Charles B. Morrey, Jr.

Charles B. Morrey, Jr.

Charles B. Morrey, Jr. in 1974
Born (1907-07-23)23 July 1907
Columbus, Ohio
Died 29 April 1984(1984-04-29) (aged 76)[1]
Nationality United States of America
Fields Mathematics
Patrons Griffith Conrad Evans
Alma mater
Doctoral advisor George Birkhoff
Doctoral students
  • Oscar Criner
  • Gregers Krabbe
  • Gregory McAllister
  • Edward Silverman
Known for
Notable awards National Academy of Sciences membership (1962),[2] American Academy of Arts and Sciences fellowship (1965),[3] Berkeley Citation (1973),[4]

Charles Bradfield Morrey Jr. (23 July 1907 – 29 April 1984)[1] was an American mathematician who made fundamental contributions to the calculus of variations and the theory of partial differential equations.


Charles Bradfield Morrey Jr. was born 23 July 1907 in Columbus, Ohio; his father was a professor of bacteriology at Ohio State University, and his mother was president of a school of music in Columbus, therefore it can be said that his one was a family of academicians.[5] Perhaps from his mother's influence, he had a lifelong love for piano,[6] even if mathematics was his main interest since his childhood.[7] He was at first educated in the public schools of Columbus and, before going to the university, he spent a year at Staunton Military Academy in Staunton, Virginia.[5]

In 1933, during his stay at the Department of Mathematics of the University of California, Berkeley as an instructor, he met Frances Eleonor Moss, who had just started studying for her M.A.:[8] they married in 1937[7] and had three children.[9] With summers off the family enjoyed traveling: they crossed the United States by car at least 20 times, visiting many natural wonders, and looked forward to the AMS meetings, held each year in August. They usually spent abroad their sabbatical leaves, and doing so they visited nearly every European country, witnessing many changes succeeding during the period from the 1950s to the 1980s.[8]

Academic career

Morrey graduated from Ohio State University with a B.A. in 1927 and a M.A. in 1928,[10] and then studied at Harvard University under the supervision of George Birkhoff, obtaining a Ph.D. in 1931 with a thesis entitled Invariant functions of Conservative Surface Transformations.[11] After being awarded his Ph.D, he was a National Research Council Fellow at Princeton, at the Rice Institute and finally at the University of Chicago.[7] He became a professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley in 1933, hired by Griffith Conrad Evans,[12] and was a faculty member until his retirement in 1973. In Berkeley, he was early given several administrative duties,[13] for example being the Chairman of the Department of Mathematics during the period 1949–1954,[14] and being the Acting Chairman, the Vice Chairman and the Director of the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics at various times. During the years 1937–1938 and 1954–1955 he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies:[15] he was also Visiting Assistant Professor at Northwestern University, Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago and Miller Research Professor at Berkeley.[7] During World War II he was employed as a mathematician at the U.S. Ballistic Research Laboratory in Maryland.


In 1962 he was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences:[2] on 12 May 1965 he was elected fellow member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3] From 1967 to 1968 he was president of the American Mathematical Society.[16] On the fifth of June 1973 he was awarded the prestigious Berkeley Citation.[4] Maull (1995a, p. 10) refers also that other honors were granted him, but she does not gives any further detail.

Tracts of his personality

Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 107) describe him as really very gifted for friendship, having a charming sense of humor[17] and being continuously attentive for people, mathematics and musics. His human qualities are described as the complement to his ability in administrative duties and in scientific research:[18] as a confirmation of his skills in scientific research, also Maull (1995a, p. 10) states that he was one of the strongest workers in analysis.

The Charles B. Morrey, Jr. Assistant Professorship

In 1985 his widow, Frances Eleonor Morrey, née Ross, established the Charles B. Morrey, Jr. Assistant Professorship at the Berkeley Mathematics department, to honor his memory.[19]


Research activity

Con l'opera di Morrey il metodo diretto del Calcolo delle Variazioni riprendeva il suo cammino ed i problemi esistenziali rimasti aperti trovavano soluzione.[20]
Gaetano Fichera, (Fichera 1995, p. 21).

Morrey worked on numerous fundamental problems in analysis, among them, the existence of quasiconformal maps, the measurable Riemann mapping theorem, Plateau's problem in the setting of Riemannian manifolds, and the characterization of lower semicontinuous variational problems in terms of quasiconvexity. He greatly contributed to the solution of Hilbert's nineteenth and twentieth problems.

Teaching activity

Charles B. Morrey, Jr. was a very effective teacher.[13] His book (Morrey 1962) was the forerunner of a sequence of texts on calculus and analytic geometry, written in collaboration with Murray H. Protter. According to Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 106) and to Maull (1995a, p. 10), these books have had a wide influence on both university and high school teaching of mathematics. Morrey was also a successful advanced level teacher and thesis supervisor: at least 17 Ph.D. dissertations were written under his supervision.[13]

Selected publications

See also


  1. 1 2 According to sources (American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2011, p. 384), (American Mathematical Society 1984, p. 474), (National Academy of Sciences 2011) and to Pitcher (1988, pp. 209): in the commemorative paper by Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989) and in the two interviews (Maull 1995a), (Maull 1995b) it is not stated the precise date.
  2. 1 2 See Maull (1995a, p. 10), reference (National Academy of Sciences 1962, p. 1274) and (National Academy of Sciences 2011) for the year of election.
  3. 1 2 See Maull (1995a, p. 10), references (American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2011, p. 384) and (American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1964–1965, p. 1) for the exact election date.
  4. 1 2 According to Maull (1995a, p. 10), Mitchell (1980, p. 281), Morrey's Community of Scholars web site Profile and to the list of recipients of the prize: this last reference is the only one which states the exact date of the awarding.
  5. 1 2 See Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 105).
  6. According to Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 107) he had a continuing concern for music.
  7. 1 2 3 4 According to Maull (1995a, p. 10).
  8. 1 2 According to Maull (1995b, p. 10).
  9. See Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 107). Also Maull (1995a, p. 10) alludes to their children, however without giving any detail except the birth year of their first born, i.e. 1941.
  10. See (Morrey 1928). According to Maull (1995a, p. 10), this work contains a short proof of the measurability of Dini derivatives of a measurable function, and it is probably his first scientific contribution.
  11. See (Morrey 1931).
  12. According to Sarah Hallam (see her interview by Maull (1995c, p. 11)) and to Rider (1985, pp. 288–289). In this last reference, the author also describes briefly but comprehensively the events leading to his hiring.
  13. 1 2 3 See Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 106).
  14. Which, according to Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 106), "was a period of great stress because of the loyalty oath controversy".
  15. See (Maull 1995a, p. 10), (Mitchell 1980, p. p=281), (Morrey's Community of Scholars web site Profile).
  16. According to Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 107) and Pitcher (1988, pp. 208–209): He was precisely the 39th president of the American Mathematical Society. See also reference (American Mathematical Society 2011).
  17. With a weakness for spoonerisms, as Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson (1989, p. 107) refer.
  18. (Kelley, Lehmer & Robinson 1989, p. 107).
  19. According to Maull (1995b, p. 11).
  20. An English translation reads as:-"With the work of Morrey the direct method in the Calculus of Variation found its path and the open existence problems found their solution".


Biographical references

Scientific references

External links

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