Mathematical Objects Relating to Charter Members of the MAA Geometric Models - Richard P. Baker

Richard P. Baker (1866-1937) was born in England, studied mathematics and science at Oxford, and obtained a degree from London University in 1887. The next year he came to the United States, and practiced law for some years in Texas. By 1895, he had decided to take up a career in mathematics, and applied to graduate school at the newly established University of Chicago. His dissertation did not proceed rapidly, and he spent some years teaching both mathematics and music. From 1905, he was in the mathematics department at the University of Iowa.

Richard P. Baker, 1935, Gift of Gladys E. and Frances E. BakerRichard P. Baker, 1935.
Gift of Gladys E. and Frances E. Baker

Even before the founding of the MAA, Baker took an active interest in posing and solving problems in the American Mathematical Monthly. He published a solution in 1912 and posed several problems over the years 1913-1919. From 1915-1916, he served as coeditor of the problems column. Baker also was one of the mathematicians who served on the editorial board of the Monthly from 1912 until soon after it became an MAA publication in 1916. He participated regularly in meetings, particularly of the Iowa Section.

Baker devoted much of his life to designing and making models relating to advanced topics in mathematics, statistics, and physics. Sometimes he followed European examples, sometimes he developed models to illustrate relatively recent mathematical results. He published his first catalog, which showed ninety-eight models, in 1905. His second, published in 1931, had models numbered as high as 542.