This magisterial annotated bibliography of the earliest mathematical works to be printed in the New World challenges long-held assumptions about the earliest examples of American mathematical endeavor. Bruce Stanley Burdick brings together mathematical writings from Mexico, Lima, and the English colonies of Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and New York. The book provides important information such as author, printer, place of publication, and location of original copies of each of the works discussed.
Burdick’s exhaustive research has unearthed numerous examples of books not previously cataloged as mathematical. While it was thought that no mathematical writings in English were printed in the Americas before 1703, Burdick gives scholars one of their first chances to discover Jacob Taylor’s 1697 Tenebrae, a treatise on solving triangles and other figures using basic trigonometry. He also goes beyond the English language to discuss works in Spanish and Latin, such as Alonso de la Vera Cruz's 1554 logic text, the Recognitio Summularum; a book on astrology by Enrico Martínez; books on the nature of comets by Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora and Eusebio Francisco Kino; and a 1676 almanac by Feliciana Ruiz, the first woman to produce a mathematical work in the Americas.
Those fascinated by mathematics, its history, and its culture will note with interest that many of these works, including all of the earliest ones, are from Mexico, not from what is now the United States. As such, the book will challenge us to rethink the history of mathematics on the American continents.