Papers of Professor William Henry Young,
and Grace Chisholm Young

Biographical notes

William Henry Young

MA, ScD (Cambridge); Dr es Sc.Math (Geneva); Hon DSc (Calcutta); FRS; Hon Dr Univ Strasbourg; President London Mathematical Society 1922-1924; President of Union Internationale de Mathematiciens 1929-1936, etc. Born London 1863, married G.C.Young 1896. died 1942; 2 sons, 3 daughters. Educated City of London School; Peterhouse College, Cambridge (Fellow 1868-1892). Lecturer at Girton College, Cambridge; Chief Examiner to Central Welsh Board, 1902-1905; examiner at universities of Cambridge, London, Wales. Resident many years at German, Swiss and Italian universities; travelled twice round the world, and visited South America 1936-1937; visited most of the chief universities of Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, Manchuria, China, India, Sri Lanka, sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa. Hardinge Professor of Mathematics at University of Calcutta, 1913-1916. Professor of the Philosophy and History of Mathematics, University of Liverpool, 1913-1919. Professor of Pure Mathematics, University of Wales, 1919-1923.

Publications: Fundamental Theorems of the Differential Calculus, 1910; nearly 200 mathematical papers, as well as articles on educational and academic topics; jointly with his wife, Theory of Sets of Points, 1906; First Book of Geometry, 1905 (translated into German as Der Kleine Geometer, 1908, also Italian, Swedish (1920), and Magyar (1925).

Grace Chisholm Young

Born 1868, married 1896. Educated at Girton College, Cambridge, also Oxford (1892); Doctorate from Gottingen 1895 (first woman allowed a degree in Prussia). Studied medicine at Gottingen and Geneva. Publications: for joint books with her husband see above; articles in Nature; poems; mathematical and astronomical papers.

Arrangement of the archive

The Young papers have been listed in the categories into which they had been sorted before their deposit in the University Archives in 1976. This organisation was preserved as adding a valuable extra dimension to the archive since it was the work of successive persons with detailed knowledge of the family and mathematical background. One of these organisers of the archive was the eldest daughter, Dr Cecily Tanner, who wrote a note explaining the background thus:

"Both William Henry and Grace Chisholm Young had as their first love an interest in history and this included family history. William Henry Young particularly hoped that as it did for him, their own life and the upbringing of their children, as far as preserved letters might show, would give the next generation a conscious sense of their background in their own careers. Other papers were systematically destroyed because each successive home was to be a temporary one, and last no more than seven years at the outside, until in the later 1920s the idea of a return to England for permanent family residence was abandoned.

"After the family home in Switzerland was cleared out (after the Second World War, when both parents had died) the papers directdly relating to their life were brought over and gradually listed by their eldest daughter with informal secretarial help, until "Dr Ivor Grattan-Guinness undertook to see through the whole collection, finish ordering it, and write a Life of William Henry and Grace ChisholmYoung, based on its contents. This he did, and not finding a publisher speedily to undertake its printing, abridged it into a biographical article and published it in the 1972Annals of Science .

"The second edition of the Theory of Sets of Points was planned by Grace Chisholm Young. It was carried out by Dr Grattan-Guinness."

Summary guide to the archive

D140/1-3 Papers of those who worked on organising the archive, 1960-1972

Papers concerning the Theory of Sets of Points, including an account of the preparation of the first edition, 1906.

Notes by Cecily Tanner, some in German, on her parents' contributions to mathematics, the development of their partnership, and biographical summaries of their children.

Letters and papers on Sets of Points, and other matters concerning William Henry Young

D140/4-7 Correspondence, general 1768-1944

Manuscript notebooks summarising Young correspondence with details of family history derived from wills and other sources. Earliest entries are by Grace Chisholm Young. Period covers 1768-1939.

Bundle of pages torn out of pocket diaries, entries by Grace Chisholm Young, 1908-1939.

Original correspondence of the Young family, sorted into chronological order by Grace Chisholm Young and Celia Tanner (some categories kept separate: see
D140/8 . Period covers 1857-1944.

Unsorted, provisionally dated and miscellaneous letters, and manuscript notes by Grace Chisholm Young, with views on the war and contemporary society, 1917. Period covers 1886-1941.

D140/8-9 Correspondence, particular, 1893-1943

Correspondence, mainly between Grace Chisholm Young and William Henry Young, from the time (1893) Grace Chisholm Young was in Gottingen studying for her doctorate until their marriage (June 1896), 1893-1896.

Box file entitled "Important letters from mathematicians". These letters had been selected from the main body and arranged in alphabetical order of surnames. The main subject is criticism of books and papers published by the Youngs; also efforts to obtain outstanding continental mathematicians to lecture at Aberystwyth. Many letters are in French or German. Correspondents include GD Birkhoff (Harvard), LEM Brouwer (Holland), C Caratheodory, HS Carslaw (Sydney), EF Collingwood, A Denjoy (Montpellier), P Dienes (Aberystwyth), D Egoroff (Moscow), G Fichtenholz (St Petersburg), HH Field, G Fina, G Gibson (Glasgow), BP Haalmeyer (Amsterdam). F Hausdorff, GH Hardy (Cambridge), O Heaviside, P Hertz, Hilbert,EW Hobson, P Holder, S Janiszewski, G Juvet, B von Kerekjarto, F Klein, H Lebesgue, JE Littlewood (Cambridge), AEH Love, Lusin, GM Minchin, MG Mittag-Leffler, D Mirimanoff, P Montel, A Ostrowski (Gottingen), E Picard (Paris), M Plancherel (Fribourg), G Polya (Zurich), A Pringsheim (Munich), Bertrand Russell, GFC Searle, C Segre (Turin), GA Schott, C Sherriff, Speiser, T Thommasina (Louvain), L Tonelli (Bologna), G Vitali, K Weber.

D140/10-18 Papers and correspondence relating to the Young family, 1868-1965

Passports, birth and marriage certificates etc, 1868-1940.

Notes on William Henry Young's will; material from Peterhouse College, Durham University, social and publications, 1891-1965

Papers by or about Grace Chisholm Young and her Cambridge, Gottingen and family background, publications, and death of William Henry Young, 1884-1957

Portrait photograph of Grace Chisholm Young.

"Grace Chisholm Young: poems, stories, paintings", 1882-1940s.

"Bimbo": letters to Frank Young(1897-1917): war service in the Royal Flying Corps. 1906-1917.

Per Ardua: manuscript account by Grace Chisholm Young of the upbringing of her eldest son Frank [Post 1917].

"Pat & Laurie": letters from sons Laurence (b.1905) and Patrick (b.1908). Subjects include their careers at Cambridge, Pat's career in industry, 1913-1940s.

"Cecily & Janet": letters by daughters Cecily (b.1900) and Janet (b.1901): medical training at Freiburg, Girton College Cambridge, career matters, 1909-1950.

D140/19-28 Papers and correspondence on specific subjects, 1898-1954

Notes on lectures by Professor Corrado Segre, Turin, 1898-1899.

Notes on Roman Law, 1909-1922.

Notes on conditions in Portugal and Brazil, [?1915].

Notes on Yugoslavia and Serbia, [1929].

Notes on many subjects, such as France, Poland, visit to England 1935, Abyssinia, interview with Mussolini, economic theory, politics. Mainly 1925-1940.

Manuscript diary entries and extracts from letters, some marked "Algerian trip" and "Calcutta diary"; also Yokohama (1915), India, Japan and China. 1900-1926.

Letters from Antonia Zimmern (1853-1929) about spiritualist experiences, precognition, automatic writing and poltergeists, by aunt Amy Jessy Pratt. 1909-1930.

File "Extracts from Amy J Pratt Diaries" copied by A Zimmern; life of Mrs Pratt. 1885-1923

International Research Council and International Mathematical Union, 1919-1931.

Correspondence with Professor Fehr and family affairs in Switzerland. 1940-1954.

D140/29-30 Works of the Youngs, general. 1894-1963

Correspondence with publishers and solicitors, 1894-1939.

Letters on mathematics with Otto Holder, S Pincherle, Tonelli, Oskar Bolza, Max Dehn: mentions the Schonfliess controversy, encyclopaedia, Lebesgue, Fourier, examinations; other papers about mathematicians 1891-1963.

D140/31-35 Mathematical notes.

Notes on Legendre Coefficients or zonal functions.

Group theory, geometry, number theory.

The Geometry of Projective Transformations.

Analysis notes: functions and derivatives, curves without tangents, elliptic functions, Riemann's surface, Jordan's Theorem, Sheefer's theory, Weierstrass, hypergeometry, integrals and Fourier series, integration, real integrals along curves, integral calculus for multiple integrals, sets, functions of a real variable; Mirimanoff (1917), Marxist concept of mathematics in Russia, A Fraenkel, Hugo Dingler; lecture at Coimbra; "Granny's book about the mystery of numbers"; lectures of Professor Cayley at Girton College.

Notes on philosophy of mathematics; Poincare and mathematical method, Bertrand Russell, Bernhard Riemann, 1917-1931.

D140/36-37 Notes on other subjects

"Complex individual/education". Publications, and notes on William Henry Young's tour of universities, 1915; report on the study of mathematics in Europe; Calcutta University; University of Wales; education in Switzerland; University of Strasbourg. 1915-1933.

Papers on conditions in Germany, economic theory, Hitler. 1917-1934.

D140/38-39 Published papers, 1895-1929

Related collections held at the University

D599 Papers of Mrs R.C.H.Tanner, PhD (1900-1992), 1883-1991

This deposit includes some further papers of Dr Tanner's parents, William Henry and Grace Chisholm Young, and some papers of her brothers and sisters. For details of Dr Tanner's career, see Dr Ivor Grattan-Guinness's obituary and list of her publications in the Newsletter of the British Society of the History of Mathematics, 23 (1993), p10-15.

The papers fall into three broad categories:

  1. Papers of her parents, brothers and sisters. These relate closely to the Young archive (D140).
  2. Her papers as a student and later a member of staff in the Mathematics Department at Imperial College London.
  3. Her research notes, correspondence and other papers concerning Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), including papers on the Thomas Harriot Seminars which she was instrumental in establishing
52 boxes; a box list is available at the University.

Related collections held elsewhere

International Mathematical Union

copies of some of the material from the collection is also available at the Central Archives of the
University of Helsinki as part of the archives of the International Mathematical Union a catalogue to this material is currently being produced.


'Mathematical Bibliography for William Henry and Grace Chisholm Young'. HistoriaMathematica 2, 1975.

Grattan-Guinness, I.
Obituary [William Henry Young] in Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 4th Nov 1943 (copy in the archives ref D.140/11/9)

Grattan-Guinness, I.(ed.)
'William Henry & Grace Chisholm Young' The Theory of Sets of Points, 2nd ed, 1972.

Grattan-Guinness, I.
'University Mathematics at the turn of the century: unpublished recollections of William Henry Young'. Annals of Science 28, 1972.

Grattan-Guinness, I.
'A Mathematical Union: William Henry and Grace Chisholm Young' in Annals of Science 29, 1972, pp105-286.

Grattan-Guinness, I.
'Dr R.C.H. Tanner (1900-1992)' obituary in British Journal of the History of Science vol 26, 1993, pp229-231.

Hardy, G.H.
Obituary [William Henry Young] in Journal of the London Mathematical Society 17, 1942 pp218-237. (copy in the archives ref D.140/30/5)

Hardy, G.H.
Obituary [William Henry Young] in Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society 4th Nov 1943, photographic portrait, pp306-323.

Mulhausen, Elisabeth
'Grace Emily Chisholm Young' in Traudel Weber-Reich Des Kennenlernens Werth: Bedeutende Frauen Gottingens, Wallstein Verlag, Gottingen, 1993, pp 195-211.

Perl, Teri
Math equals: Biography of women mathematicians and related activities Addison Wesley, 1978. Contains chapter on Grace Chisholm Young using material from Dr Grattan-Guinness' Annals of Science.

Rothman, Patricia
'Grace Chisholm Young and the Division of Laurels' in Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, vol 50, no. 1, 1996, pp89-100.

Sutton, Sir Graham
'The centenary of the birth of W.H.Young' The Math. Gazette 59, 1965 (copy in the archives ref D.140/11/11)

Wiegand, Sylvia
'Grace Chisholm Young and William Henry Young: A Partnership of Itinerant British Mathematicians in the early Twentieth Century' in Creative Couples Rutgers University Press, 1994.

This is one of a suite of pages about the
University Archives.

Department of Special Collections and Archives,
University of Liverpool, P.O.Box 123, Liverpool L69 3DA. Tel: (0151 794 2696)


This page was last updated 6th September 1996.