Agnes Scott College

Claribel Kendall


January 23, 1889 - April 17, 1965

Claribel Kendall was born in Denver, Colorado. She received her B.A. and B.Ed. degrees from the University of Colorado in 1912, and her Master's degree in 1914, also from Colorado. Her master's thesis was on "Preassociative syzygies in linear algebra." Kendall actually started teaching in the mathematics department at Colorado as an instructor in 1913. After completing her master's degree, she began graduate work with B.F. Finkel and A. Cohen during summer sessions at Colorado. She spent the summers of 1915 and 1918 at the University of Chicago, taking graduate courses from Moore, Wilczynski, Dickson, and Bliss. She had a scholarship both summers to support her studies. In 1920 she returned to Chicago, having been granted a fellowship for the 1920-21 academic year. After five quarters of work she received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her Ph.D. thesis, written under the guidance of Wilczynki, was on "Certain Congruences Determined by a Given Surface," published in the American Journal of Mathematics in 1923 [Abstract].

Kendall taught at the University of Colorado from 1913 until her retirement in 1957, being promoted to full professor in 1944. She was by all accounts an outstanding teacher. She was the first member of the department to receive, in 1957, the Robert L. Stearns award from the university for "outstanding service or achievement." Kendall was a charter member of the Mathematical Association of America and one of the founders of the Rocky Mountain Section of the MAA (1917). She was a frequent contributor to the solutions of problems in the American Mathematical Monthly. She directed ten master's theses at Colorado; eight were by women. Her best known master's student was Edwin Purcell whose 1931 thesis was on "The properties of the foci of the general algebraic plane curve." Purcell went on to earn a Ph.D. at Cornell and to write a very successful calculus textbook.


  1. Struik, Ruth R. "Claribel Kendell (1889-1965)," in Women of Mathematics: A Biobibliographic Sourcebook, Louise Grinstein and Paul Campbell, Editors, Greenwood Press, 1987.
  2. Helen Brewster Owens Papers. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College.
  3. Jones, Burton W. and Wolfgang Thron. A History of the Mathematics Departments of the University of Colorado, 1979.
  4. Author Profile at zbMath
  5. Mathematics Genealogy Project

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado.