Sally Elizabeth Carlson


Sally Elizabeth Carlson (October 2, 1896 – November 1, 2000) was an American mathematician,[1] the first woman and one of the first two people to obtain a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Minnesota.[1][2]

Sally Elizabeth Carlson
Born(1896-10-02)October 2, 1896
DiedNovember 1, 2000(2000-11-01) (aged 104)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
ThesisThe Convergence of Certain Methods of Closest Approximation (1924)
Doctoral advisorDunham Jackson
Academic work
Sub-disciplineFunctional analysis
InstitutionsUniversity of Minnesota
Notable studentsMargaret P. Martin

Early life and educationEdit

Carlson was born in Minneapolis to a large working-class family of Swedish immigrants. She became her high school valedictorian in 1913, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1917, and earned a master's degree there in 1918. After teaching mathematics for two years, she returned to graduate study in 1920, and completed her Ph.D. at Minnesota in 1924. Both students were supervised by Dunham Jackson;[1] Carlson's dissertation, in functional analysis, was On The Convergence of Certain Methods of Closest Approximation.[3]

Career and contributionsEdit

She joined the Minnesota faculty, and remained there until her retirement in 1965 as a full professor.[1] She has no record of supervising doctoral dissertations,[3] and published little research after the work of her own dissertation. However, she supervised several master's students, and was described as a mentor by Margaret P. Martin, who completed her Ph.D. at Minnesota in 1944.[4]


Carlson won a Distinguished Teacher Award at Minnesota.[1] After her 2000 death, the library of the University of Minnesota memorialized her in an exhibit, titled "Elizabeth Carlson, notable alumna".[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Green, Judy; LaDuke, Jeanne (2008), "Carlson, Elizabeth", Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD's, History of Mathematics, vol. 34, American Mathematical Society, The London Mathematical Society, pp. 153–154, ISBN 978-0-8218-4376-5
  2. ^ Riddle, Larry (June 2, 2016), "The First Ph.D.'s", Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Agnes Scott College, retrieved 2017-11-18
  3. ^ a b Sally Elizabeth Carlson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  4. ^ Murray, Margaret A. M. (2001), Women Becoming Mathematicians: Creating a Professional Identity in Post-World War II America, MIT Press, p. 100, ISBN 9780262632461