Agnes Scott College

Bird Margaret Turner

April 18, 1877 - September 5, 1962

Bird Margaret Turner was born in Moundsville, West Virginia. She graduated from the Moundsville High School in 1893. After five years of teaching grade school, Turner returned to Moundsville High School in 1900 as a mathematics teacher. During several summer sessions between 1900 and 1914, she studied mathematics at the University of West Virginia, with additional summer studies at Harvard University in 1906 and Bethany College in 1908. In 1913, at the age of thirty-six, she left Moundsville High School to enter the University of West Virginia where she was a student assistant in mathematics. Turner earned her B.A. degree two years later. She continued her graduate studies at the university while serving as principal of the Moundsville High School during 1915-1916. She officially received her master's degree in mathematics from the University of West Virginia in 1917. However, in 1916 Turner had actually entered Bryn Mawr College as a Scholar in Mathematics, where she was granted the President M. Carey Thomas European Fellowship for her first year's work. During the year 1917-18 she was Assistant Director of the Phebe Anna Thorn Model School at Bryn Mawr College, in 1918-19 was a part time Reader in Mathematics at Bryn Mawr College, and was a Resident Fellow during 1919-20. At Bryn Mawr she studied under the direction of Charlotte Scott, Anna J. Pell, Matilde Castro and Olive Clio Hazlett. She completed her Ph.D. dissertation in 1920 with a work on "Plane cubics with a given quadrangle of inflexions," published in the American Journal of Mathematics, Vol. 44, October, 1922 [Abstract]. Her thesis involved the following idea:

That every non-singular cubic has nine points of inflexion, lying in related positions on the curve, is a classical fact in mathematics. Of these points four may be chosen arbitrarily; and when such a quadrangle is fixed, the finding of the positions of the remaining five presents a question worthy of consideration. It appears that all the sets of five combine into a group of fifteen points whose relative positions with respect to the given four depend upon equianharmonic properties; but that the equianharmonic relations follow as a consequence of a combination of harmonic functions and hence, in a number of cases, the points may be determined by linear and quadratic constructions.

After receiving her Ph.D. in 1920, Turner taught for three years at the University of Illinois, then returned to West Virginia University as an assistant professor of mathematics. She remained there for the next twenty-four years, rising through the ranks to become an associate professor in 1925, and a full professor in 1931. She published four additional papers after her dissertation:


  1. Helen Brewster Owens Papers. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College
  2. Vita, Ph.D. dissertation, Bryn Mawr College Library.
  3. Kenschaft, Patricia. "The Students of Charlotte Angas Scott," Mathematics in College, Fall 1982, 16-20.
  4. Personal Data Memorandum, West Virginia University Archives.
  5. Author Profile at zbMath
  6. Mathematics Genealogy Project