Banesh Hoffmann Collection

Table of Contents

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Descriptive summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Content

Arrangement

Restrictions

Controlled Access Terms

Administrative Information

Series Descriptions and Container list

Personal 1928-1986, undated

Hoffmann and Einstein 1921-1982, undated

Articles and Works 1938-1990, undated

General 1951-1985, undated

Books 1947-1990, undated

Scientific Articles 1938-1984, undated

Education 1943-1988, undated

Film and Audio 1969-1979

Titles in the Banesh Hoffmann Library

Banesh Hoffmann Collection


Collection processed and finding aid prepared by Mark Sacha, Spring 2016

Descriptive summary

Repository: Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Department of Special Collections and Archives
Creator: Forman, James, 1928-2005
Title: Banesh Hoffmann Collection
Dates: 1921-1990
Extent: 12.0 Linear feet
Abstract: The Banesh Hoffmann Collection contains selected papers, published works, and recordings of this accomplished scientist and Queens College professor. Dr. Hoffmann is best known for his collaboration with Albert Einstein on the general theory of relativity and for his opposition to standardized testing.
Identification: INST.2016.001
Languages: English
Special Formats 16mm film reels, cassette tapes

Biographical Note

Banesh Hoffmann was born on September 6, 1906, in Richmond, England, to Jewish Polish immigrants Maurice and Leah Hoffmann. He received his bachelor’s degree from Merton College of Oxford University in 1929 and his PhD from Princeton University in 1932. While at Princeton he was the assistant of mathematician Oswald Veblen, who was to be the first member of the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), a postdoctoral research center that hosted scores of major scientific intellectuals including Albert Einstein and Kurt Gödel.

In 1935, Hoffmann himself became a member of the Institute, where he was invited to assist Einstein along with Polish physicist Leopold Infeld. They worked with him for several years on an aspect of his general theory of relativity, leading to a 1938 paper titled “Gravitational Equations and the Problems of Motion” and considered to be the capstone of Einstein’s work. Hoffmann and Einstein were personal as well as professional colleagues, and would remain friends until the latter’s death.

Banesh Hoffmann taught in the mathematics department of Queens College beginning in 1937, the year of the college’s founding, and continued to do so for the remainder of his career. In 1938 he married Doris Marjorie Goodday, with whom he had two children, Laurence and Deborah (the principal donors of this collection).

He wrote and published on topics ranging from physics to electrical engineering, ultimately authoring over 100 papers and articles and several books including The Strange Theory of the Quantum (1947), Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel (1972), and Relativity and its Roots (1983). Throughout his teaching career he was also an outspoken critic of multiple-choice standardized testing, publishing articles against the practice in American Scholar, Harper’s, and Physics Today, as well as a book, The Tyranny of Testing (1962). Other publications include work on a phonic alphabet system that he developed for the teaching of reading. Many of his works have been translated into other languages.

Dr. Hoffmann was active in numerous organizations in addition to the IAS. He was a consultant for Science Talent Search from 1944-70, a member of the American Physical Society and the American Mathematical Society, and a research associate at Harvard University from 1966-67. Privately, he was also a member of the Baker Street Irregulars, a literary society devoted to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

He retired in 1977 and continued to nurture lifelong interests in piano (he would occasionally play duets with Einstein) and the stories of Sherlock Holmes. He passed away in 1986, at the age of 79.

Sources: The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, volume II (1986-1990) “Biographical Data – Dr. Banesh Hoffmann” (in collection)

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Scope and Content

This collection contains correspondence and manuscript materials related to Banesh Hoffmann’s personal and professional life. It also contains many published works written by or about him, including newspaper and periodical articles, academic journal publications, and books.

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Arrangement

Series I-III are arranged by topic. Series IV contains audiovisual material on film and magnetic audiocassette tape. Appendix A contains a list of the volumes from the Banesh Hoffmann library donated with this collection, along with instructions for access.

Series I: Personal
Series II: Hoffmann and Einstein
Series III: Articles and Works
Subseries A: General
Subseries B: Books
Subseries C: Scientific Articles
Subseries D: Education
Series IV: Film and Audio
Appendix A: Titles in the Banesh Hoffmann Library

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Restrictions

Access

Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.

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Controlled Access Terms

General relativity (Physics)
Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906-
Hoffmann, Deborah
Hoffmann, Laurence
Multiple-choice examinations

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Item, date (if known), box, folder, Banesh Hoffmann Collection, Department of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College, City University of New York.

Source

Donated by Deborah and Laurence Hoffmann in 2015.

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Series Descriptions and Container list

Series I: Personal ( 1928-1986, undated )
The materials in this series document Banesh Hoffmann’s life as a scientist, professor, and admirer of literature. Materials on specific topics of Mr. Hoffmann’s career can be found in Series II and III.
Biography and Obituaries ( 1980, 1986 ) Box-folder 1-1
Correspondence, General ( 1932-1984 ) Box-folder 1-2
Oxford Lecture Notebooks ( 1928, 1929 ) Box-folder 1-3
Photographs, Institute for Advanced Study ( 1930-1932 ) Box-folder 1-4
Doctorate Degree, Princeton University ( 1932 ) Box-folder 6-1
Queens College ( 1937-1981 ) Box-folder 1-5
Queens College (oversize) ( 1949, 1960-1983 ) Box-folder 6-2
Sherlock Holmes/ Baker Street Irregulars ( 1950-1963 ) Box-folder 1-6
Sherlock Holmes/ Baker Street Irregulars ( 1966-1973 ) Box-folder 1-7
Photographs, Baker Street Irregulars (oversize) ( 1962-1980 ) Box-folder 7-1
Poetry ( no date ) Box-folder 1-8
Series II: Hoffmann and Einstein ( 1921-1982, undated )
This series contains correspondence, writings, and collected materials related to Banesh Hoffmann’s personal and professional relationship with Albert Einstein. The collection also contains books on Einstein from Mr. Hoffmann’s library (Series III, Subseries B).
Correspondence, Albert Einstein ( 1932-1952 ) Box-folder 1-9
Writings on Albert Einstein ( no date, 1963, 1968, 1974 ) Box-folder 2-1
Writings on Albert Einstein ( 1975-1979 ) Box-folder 2-2
Collected Materials on Albert Einstein ( no date, 1940-1982 ) Box-folder 2-3
Collected Materials on Albert Einstein (oversize) ( 1979, 1980 ) Box-folder 6-3
Photographic Prints, Albert Einstein ( no date, 1921, 1942, 1971, 1977 ) Box-folder 2-4
Photographic Negatives, Albert Einstein ( no date ) Box-folder 2-5
Series III: Articles and Works ( 1938-1990, undated )
This series comprises published works in books, newspapers, periodicals and journals written by Banesh Hoffmann or with his significant contribution. It also contains some writings by other authors on topics significant to his areas of interest.
Subseries A: General ( 1951-1985, undated )
This subseries contains works and published writings by Banesh Hoffmann on a variety of topics. Major works in science and education can be found in subseries C and D, respectively. Works on Albert Einstein can be found in Series II.
Lists of Works and Publications ( no date, 1954 ) Box-folder 2-6
Lectures and Interviews ( no date, 1975, 1985 ) Box-folder 2-7
Letters to the Editor ( no date, 1954-1968 ) Box-folder 2-8
Letters to the Editor (oversize) ( 1947, 1964 ) Box-folder 6-4
Book Reviews by Banesh Hoffmann ( no date, 1951-1959 ) Box-folder 2-9
Book Reviews by Banesh Hoffmann ( 1959-1983 ) Box-folder 2-10
In Honor of Dr. Otto Nathan ( 1978 ) Box-folder 3-1
Subseries B: Books ( 1947-1990, undated )
This subseries comprises materials in the Banesh Hoffmann Collection from Mr. Hoffmann’s personal library, as well as reviews of his works. Laid in items were removed from the texts and are listed below. Books and bound volumes are listed in Appendix A.
Reviews of Banesh Hoffmann's Books ( 1947-1979, 1990 ) Box-folder 3-2
Reviews of Banesh Hoffmann's Books ( 1972, 1973, 1979 ) Box-folder 3-3
Reviews of Banesh Hoffmann's Books (oversize) ( 1962-1973 ) Box-folder 6-5
Inscribed Articles, Banesh Hoffmann's Library ( no date, 1953-1968 ) Box-folder 3-4
Laid in Items, Banesh Hoffmann's Library ( no date, 1964, 1978-1983 ) Box-folder 3-5
Subseries C: Scientific Articles ( 1938-1984, undated )
This subseries contains published articles on scientific topics written by Banesh Hoffmann or with his significant contribution.
Scientific Articles ( 1930-1937 ) Box-folder 3-6
Scientific Articles ( 1938, 1939 ) Box-folder 3-7
Scientific Articles ( 1940-1951 ) Box-folder 4-1
Scientific Articles ( 1952-1972 ) Box-folder 4-2
Scientific Articles ( 1974-1984 ) Box-folder 4-3
Subseries D: Education ( 1943-1988, undated )
This subseries contains writings on educational topics, such as a phonic alphabet system devised by Banesh Hoffmann and works related to his outspoken opposition to multiple-choice examinations.
Correspondence, Educational Testing ( 1965 ) Box-folder 4-4
Articles on Educational Testing ( 1943-1959 ) Box-folder 4-5
Articles on Educational Testing ( 1961-1965 ) Box-folder 4-6
Articles on Educational Testing ( 1959-1974, 1988 ) Box-folder 5-1
Articles on Educational Testing (oversize) ( no date ) Box-folder 6-6
Phonic Alphabet ( no date, 1969 ) Box-folder 5-2
Series IV: Film and Audio ( 1969-1979 )
This series contains film and audio recordings of Banesh Hoffmann speaking on scientific topics. It includes two 16mm film reels of a BBC documentary “Continuum”, in which Mr. Hoffmann explains the General Theory of Relativity.
Audiotapes ( 1969-1979 ) Box 5
"Methods and Results" at Gabriel Kron Symposium ( 1969 )
Hoffmann and Helen Dukas, Princeton, Side A ( 1969 )
Hoffmann and Helen Dukas, Princeton, Side B ( 1969 )
Recollections of Einstein, with Boris Schwarz ( 1970 )
CBS Crosstalk, Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel ( 1972 )
Radio interview, Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel ( 1972 )
CBS, "Ideas", Albert Einstein ( 1975 )
"Einstein, Scientist and Man" at Einstein Centennial ( 1978 )
Einstein Symposium, Lecture ( 1979 )
"In Conversation" radio interview ( 1975 )
Continuum, Reel 1 Box 8
Continuum, Reel 2 Box 9
Appendix A: Titles in the Banesh Hoffmann Library
All of the following titles can be located in the CUNY OneSearch catalog: http://onesearch.cuny.edu/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?vid=qc
The fields below correspond to the following sections in Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS), Second Edition.
2.6 Name of creator(s) 2.3 Title 2.1.3 Local identifier
1. Abbott, Edwin Abbott, 1838-1926 Flatland : a romance of many dimensions ( 1952 ) Volume QA699 .A13 1952
2. Aichelburg, Peter C., 1941- Albert Einstein : his influence on physics, philosophy and politics ( 1979 ) Volume QC16 .E5 A66
3. Barnett, Lincoln Kinnear, 1909- The treasure of our tongue : the story of English from its obscure beginnings... ( 1966 ) Volume PE1075 .B27 1966
4. From Parnassus : essays in honor of Jacques Barzun ( 1976 ) Volume AC5 .F79 1976
5. Barzun, Jacques, 1907- Simple & direct : a rhetoric for writers ( 1975 ) Volume PE1408 .B436
6. Barzun, Jacques, 1907- Science : the glorious entertainment ( 1964 ) Volume CB358 .B3
7. Barzun, Jacques, 1907- The house of intellect ( 1959 ) Volume AZ221 .B3
8. Bonnor, W.B., (William B.) The mystery of the expanding universe ( 1964 ) Volume QB981 .B723
9. Borel, Emile, 1871-1956 Space and time. With a new foreword by Banesh Hoffmann ( 1960 ) Volume QC6 .B63 1960
10. Borzeszkowski, Horst-Heino von The meaning of quantum gravity ( 1988 ) Volume QC178 .B635 1988
11. Costa de Beauregard, O.(Olivier) La notion de temps : équivalence avec l'espace ( 1963 ) Volume QC6 .C66
12. Costa de Beauregard, O.(Olivier) Précis de mécanique quantique relativiste ( 1967 ) Volume QC174.1 C621
13. Costa de Beauregard, O.(Olivier) Précis of special relativity ( 1966 ) Volume QC6 .C65333
14. Cowling, T. G. (Thomas George) Molecules in motion ( 1950 ) Volume QC161 .C68
15. DeFanti, Charles, 1942- The wages of expectation : a biography of Edward Dahlberg ( 1978 ) Volume PS3507 .A33 Z63
16. Some strangeness in the proportion : a centennial symposium to celebrate the achievements of Albert Einstein ( 1980 ) Volume QC16 .E5 S63
17. Dukas, HelenEinstein, Albert, 1879-1955Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- Albert Einstein, the human side : new glimpses from his archives ( 1979 ) Volume QC16 .E5 A33
18. Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955French, A. P. (Anthony Philip), 1920- Einstein : a centenary volume ( 1979 ) Volume QC16 .E5 E37
19. Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 Einstein on peace ( 1960 ) Volume JX1952 .E44
20. Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 The evolution of physics; the growth of ideas from early concepts to relativity and quanta ( 1938 ) Volume QC7 .E5
21. Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 The meaning of relativity ( QC6 .E43 ) Volume QC6 .E43
22. Barzun, Jacques, 1907-Follett, Wilson, 1887-1963 Modern American usage; a guide ( 1966 ) Volume PE2835 .F6
23. French, A. P. (Anthony Philip), 1920- Vibrations and waves ( 1971 ) Volume HC235 .F74
24. Gardner, Martin, 1914-2010 Order and surprise ( 1983 ) Volume AC8 .G334 1983
25. Greenbaum, Richard The challenge of psychology ( 1972 ) Volume BF121 .G675
26. Happ, H. H., 1928- Diakoptics and networks ( 1971 ) Volume TK3226 .H26
27. Harrison, Michael, 1907-1991 Fire from heaven : or, How safe are you from burning? ( 1976 ) Volume RA1085 .H37 1976
28. Harrison, Michael, 1907-1991 The world of Sherlock Holmes ( 1973 ) Volume PR4624 .H35
29. Harrison, Michael, 1907-1991 Murder in the Rue Royale and further exploits of the Chevalier Dupin ( 1972 ) Volume PR6058 .A694 M87 1972
30. Harrison, Michael, 1907-1991 The London that was Rome : the Imperial city recreated by the new archaeology... ( 1971 ) Volume DA677.1 .H35
31. Hlavatý, Václav, 1894- Differential line geometry ( 1953 ) Volume QA639 .H514
32. Hlavatý, Václav, 1894- Differentialgeometrie der kurven und flächen und tensorrechnung ( 1939 ) Volume QA641 .H6
33. Hodder-Williams, Christopher, 1926- The egg-shaped thing ( 1967 ) Volume PR6058 .O267 E32
34. Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- Relativity and its roots ( 1983 ) Volume QC173.52 .H63 1983
35. Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- Albert Einstein, creator and rebel ( 1972 ) Volume QC16 .E5 H64 1972
36. Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- About vectors ( 1966 ) Volume QA261 .H63
37. Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- Perspectives in geometry and relativity; essays in honor Václav Hlavatý ( 1966 ) Volume QC6 .H632
38. Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- The tyranny of testing ( 1962 ) Volume LB3051 .H68
39. Hoffmann, Banesh, 1906- The strange story of the quantum : an account for the general reader... ( 1947 ) Volume QC174.1 .H6
40. Hofstadter, Douglas R., 1945- Gödel, Escher, Bach : an eternal golden braid ( 1979 ) Volume QA9.8 .H63
41. Elkana, Yehuda, 1934-Holton, Gerald James Albert Einstein, historical and cultural perspectives : the centennial symposium in Jerusalem ( 1982 ) Volume QC16 .E5 A663
42. Houts, Paul L. The myth of measurability ( 1977 ) Volume BF431 .M87
43. Infeld, E. (Eryk) Leopold Infeld : his life and scientific work ( 1978 ) Volume QC16 .I6I54 1978
44. Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, N.J.). A community of scholars ( 1980 ) Volume LD2535 .I3 1980
45. Jones, G. O. (Gwyn Owain) Atoms and the universe ( 1973 ) Volume QC171.2 .J56 1973
46. Kirsten, ChristaKörber, Hans Günther Physiker über Physiker II ( 1979 ) Volume QC15 .P48
47. Klinefelter, Walter, 1899-1987 Sherlock Holmes in portrait and profile ( 1963 ) Volume PR4624 .K56
48. Kron, Gabriel, 1901-1968 Diakoptics; : the piecewise solution of large-scale systems ( 1963 ) Volume TK3226 .K798
49. Kron, Gabriel, 1901-1968 Equivalent circuits of electric machinery ( 1951 ) Volume TK2000 .K75
50. Lerner, Aaron Bunsen Einstein & Newton; a comparison of the two greatest scientists ( 1973 ) Volume QC16 .E5 L39 1973
51. Levinger, Elma Ehrlich, b. 1887 Albert Einstein ( 1949 ) Volume QC16 .E5 L4
52. Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity : emergence (1905) and early interpretation, 1905-1911 ( 1981 ) Volume QC173.52 .M54
53. Müller, Claus Grundprobleme der mathematischen Theorie elektromagnetischer Schwingungen ( 1957 ) Volume QC670 .M8
54. Prigogine, I. (Ilya) From being to becoming : time and complexity in the physical sciences ( 1980 ) Volume QC173.59 .S65 P76
55. Raphael, Robert, 1927 Richard Wagner ( 1969 ) Volume ML410 .W1 R33
56. Rompe, Robert Über Physik : Studien ze ihrer Stellung in Wissenschaft und Gesellschaft ( 1979 ) Volume QC19.6 .R6 1979
57. Lozansky, Edward D. (Edward Dmitrievich), 1941-Sakharov, Andrei, 1921-1989 Andrei Sakharov and peace ( 1985 ) Volume DK275 .S25 A84 1985
58. Steinmetz, Charles Proteus, 1865-1923 Steinmetz the philosopher ( 1965 ) Volume AC8 .S68
59. Stiller, Niklas, 1947- Albert Einstein ( 1981 ) Volume QC16 .E5 S74
60. Stiller, Niklas, 1947- Der Tod und das Flugzeug : Prosa, Essays, Gedichte ( 1978 ) Volume PT2681 .T525 T6
61. Sullivan, Walter Black holes : the edge of space, the end of time ( 1979 ) Volume QB843 .B55 S94 1979
62. Terletskii, Ya. P. (Yakov P.) Paradoxes in the theory of relativity ( 1968 ) Volume QC6 .T4313
63. Tonnelat, Marie-Antoinette Histoire du principe de relativité ( 1971 ) Volume QC6 .T63
64. Tonnelat, Marie-Antoinette L. de Broglie ( 1966 ) Volume QC174.2
65. Treder, Hans Jürgen Grosse Physiker und ihre Probleme : Studien zur Geschichte der Physik ( 1983 ) Volume QC7 .T74 1983
66. Weber, J. (Joseph), 1919-2000 General relativity and gravitational waves ( 1961 ) Volume QC6 .W4
67. Weiner, Howard L Neurology for the house officer ( 1978 ) Volume RC356 .W4 1978
68. Wheeler, John Archibald, 1911-2008 Einsteins Vision; wie steht es heute mit Einsteins Vision alles als Geometrie aufzufassen? ( 1968 ) Volume QC6 .W564
69. Whitehead, Alfred North, 1861-1947 Nature and life ( 1980 ) Volume QA175 .W63 1980
70. Whitrow, G. J. What is time? ( 1972 ) Volume QB209 .W47
71. Gravitation : an introduction to current research ( 1962 ) Volume QC178 .W5
72. Zemansky, Mark Waldo, 1900- Temperatures very low and very high ( 1964 ) Volume QC278 .Z4