3-35-1. Edgar Odell Lovett to H. Poincaré

Berlin, den 3 February 1912

Hotel Atlantic — Der Kaiserhof — Berlin

My dear Professor Poincaré,

As far as may be consistent with dignity I desire to press upon you the invitation which Mr Hadamard aided me in presenting a few evenings ago.11 1 Jacques Hadamard, professor of analytical and celestial mechanics at the Collège de France, was an Adams Fund Lecturer at Columbia University in the fall of 1911, and in March 1920, he spoke in Houston about Poincaré’s scientific contributions (Hadamard 1915, 1922). You cannot estimate what your coming would mean to the new institution. Your presence would be of everlasting value to us in establishing high tradition. Your lectures would represent human achievements at their present level, and the promise and problems of the future. Your coming would be a constant source of inspiration to all future associates and students of the Rice Institute. We could neither point out a room in which Newton lived, as the Cambridge don may do at Trinity College, nor designate a laboratory where Pasteur wrought, as more the doctor of Paris, but we could be able to say “Behold, where Poincaré read and walked, if but for one day in our midst.”22 2 Louis Pasteur (1822–1895).

While the new institution is dedicated to the advancement of letters, science and art, by instruction and by investigation, in the individual and in the race, three circumstances make our choice of educational endeavour an easy one: 1° we are in a new and rapidly developing country; 2° there is no school of pure and applied science of the higher grade, in its section of our country; 3° the financial foundations, while large, is nevertheless limited, and not adequate to provide for the equipment of all faculties; for these reasons we propose to begin a university programme of the science and with a view to opening the institution with appropriate ceremonies we are inviting a few distinguished scholars and scientists to come to Houston as our guests on the occasion of the 420th anniversary of Columbus’ discovery, 19th and 20th October 1912, and to prepare say three lectures one of which to be delivered, and all three in each case to be published in a memorial volume that will be made worthy of the lectures and of the high aims of the new foundation.

For various reasons it has seemed wise to limit the fields represented as follows33 3 The manuscript features a second, barred column, with the following four entries: Letters Mackail Cato professor in Oxford Philosophy Sir Henry Jones of Glasgow History Lamprecht of Leipsic Art Altamira of Madrid

Mathematics Poincaré
Physics Thomson *
Chemistry Ostwald **
Biology De Vries ***

In Mathematics we have done ourselves the great honour in asking you; in physics we have invited Sir J. J. Thomson; in chemistry, Ostwald; in biology, De Vries.44 4 Joseph John Thomson, Wilhelm Ostwald, Hugo De Vries. We propose also to invite a representative of letters, one of philosophy, one of history, and one in art. We are also arranging a conference on national and international methods on organization for instruction and investigation in Pure and applied science, and their functions in modern civilization, to be participated in by representatives of France, Germany, Italy and England. To the publications of this conference representatives of Russia, Scandinavia, Austro-Hungary & Japan will be asked to contribute.

If have written this note to supplement our rather hurried personal interview which was hurried because unfortunately delayed beyond the hour you had been good enough to name.

ADft 3p. Lovett Family Papers, 1849–1979 (MS 494), box 83, folder 36, Rice University Fondren Library.

Time-stamp: "28.01.2016 22:52"


  • J. Hadamard (1915) Four Lectures on Mathematics Delivered at Columbia University in 1911. Columbia University Press, New York. External Links: Link Cited by: footnote 1.
  • J. Hadamard (1922) The early scientific work of Henri Poincaré. Rice Institute Pamphlet 9 (3), pp. 111–183. Cited by: footnote 1.