Historical Note
In 1965, a Section of Mathematics and Antique Instruments was created in the Division of Physical Sciences under Uta C. Merzbach, associate curator. The Section was renamed the Section of Mathematics in 1968, and Merzbach reported to Silvio A. Bedini, assistant director for the Museum. In 1970 the Section of Mathematics became part of the Division of Electricity and Nuclear Energy. Merzbach became involved in the Computer History Project (CHP), which included Henry S. Tropp as principal investigator. CHP was a joint research effort between the Smithsonian Institution and the American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) to gather information on the development of computer technology. The project closed in 1974.
From 1974 to 1977, the Section of Mathematics reported to the chairman of the Department of Science and Technology. In 1978 it became the Division of Mathematics in the Department of History of Science; and in 1987, it merged with the Division of Physical Sciences to form the Division of Physical Sciences and Mathematics.
The Division of Mathematics and its predecessors were concerned with the history of mathematical calculating instruments, both domestic and foreign, dating back to the eighteenth century. The Division prepared exhibitions for the Hall of Mathematics and collected artifacts such as planimeters, slide rules, mechanical calculators, digital electronic computers, and astrolabes. Curators and staff of the Division and its predecessors included Robert P. Multhauf, curator of Physical Sciences and Measurement, 1955-1957, curator of Physical Sciences, 1957-1964; Uta C. Merzbach, associate curator of Physical Sciences, 1964, associate curator of Mathematics and Antique Instruments, 1965-1968, associate curator of Mathematics, 1968-1970, Curator of Mathematics, 1970-1988; and Henry S. Tropp, principal investigator of the Computer History Project, 1971-1974.