Women Mathematicians and NMAH Collections Frances Baker: Daughter of a Mathematical Model Maker

Photo of Frances Baker, about 1957.
Frances Baker, ca 1957. Gift of Frances E. Baker. (2006.3037.02)

Frances Ellen Baker (1902–1995) is one of many women mathematicians who had a close relative who was also a mathematician. Her father was the England-born mathematician Richard Philip Baker, who is best known in the mathematical community for constructing mathematical models. Frances Baker spent most of her career teaching at women’s colleges, Mount Holyoke and Vassar. She was particularly involved with honor students, both by directing honor’s papers and through local chapters of the honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi.

Questionnaires for both Bakers are preserved in the collection honoring American women in mathematics. In addition, the mathematics collections also include several objects donated by Frances Baker. Among these are the two doctoral hoods from the University of Chicago that she and her father received when they were awarded their PhD’s and a large number of mathematical models constructed by her father.

Image of a Riemann Surface. R. P. Baker Model #411z (w3=z). Gift of Frances E. Baker
Riemann Surface. R. P. Baker Model #411z (w3=z). Gift of Frances E. Baker.