Glass Stereopticon Slides

I have three boxes of glass stereopticon slides dealing with the history of mathematics. They come from two sources, Louis Charles Karpinski (1878-1956) and David Eugene Smith (1860-1945). After some general information, I will describe them separately. 

glass-1.jpg (37992 bytes)     glass-2.jpg (37403 bytes)     k-al1-1.jpg (40081 bytes)     k-al1-2.jpg (40859 bytes)     s-49.jpg (39481 bytes)

The boxes hold 100 slides, so you can estimate how many I have. The slides are 4 inches wide and 3 and 1/4 tall, but my "magic lantern" is in need of repair, so I cannot display them. I tried to display the slides by using an ordinary overhead, but the results are less than desirable. The middle picture is the first slide in Karpinski's History of Algebra slide, the fourth is a blow up of part of that slide. The last is a detail of slide 49 of Smith. 

1. There are three series of slides by Karpinski:

These are listed by title on three typed sheets enclosed in the boxes of slides. The references at the bottom of the page are D. E. Smith, History of Mathematics and F. Cajori, History of Mathematics. As I looked through these the illustrations looked familiar, but as yet I have not attempted to match them up with these books. When I do that, I will put this information on this web page.

There is one additional sheet of paper in the boxes I have. It is titled

None of these are in the three boxes that I have. Conceivably then, there could still be one more box of slides at Bowling Green State University, but I have never seen them. 

2. David Eugene Smith designed a series of slides (about 275 in number) that were produced by James Huntington. Eisso Atzema of the University of Maine located a document in the library of Columbia Teachers College, entitled

Illustrations for Lectures on the History of Mathematics. 8pp. and Illustrations for Lectures on the History of Mathematics and Modern Mechanical Computation. Second Series. 8pp. Teachers College Library: TC3 G52 1907 C.2. These two documents are bound and classified as one. There are brief descriptions of the individual slides and each is assigned a number. 

A list of these slides is also to be found in the 1968 Columbia University Teachers College dissertation entitled Educational Contributions of David Eugene Smith, pp. 258-267. [With a password, this is on line at]. She notes that the above document is not dated. However, if the call number is to be believed the date is 1907.

Each of these slides in my possession bears the printed label:

Made by James Huntington, 610 St. John's Place, Brooklyn, N.Y.

and then the number of the slide is written in by hand. 

Eileen F. Donoghue, of the College of Staten Island, has numbers 91 and 177. Those in my possession bear the following numbers:

1, 5-6, 8, 10 ,12-16 ,19-21 ,25-28 ,31-43 ,49 ,51, 53-58 , 60, 62-74 ,85-95, 120, 122-123, 125-126, 129, 131-134, 137, 139, 141, 143, 159-161, 253-266.

When time permits I will provide more information about each of these.

Almost certainly, these slides were acquired by J. Robert Overman (1888-1978). After receiving his bachelor's degree at Indiana University in 1909 and teaching school for several years, he became the first faculty at Bowling Green [then "normal school"] in 1914. He soon received a master's from Columbia and then a PhD from Michigan (dates not yet known). Since this would have brought him in contact with both Smith and Karpinski, it is natural that he would have acquired these slides.

I do not know when these slide were purchased. Perhaps the following will help:

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When there is a missing slide in the Smith series, a piece of a blotter has been inserted to prevent a slide from being put in that slot.  The blotter is for a leap year starting on a Thursday. Examination of a perpetual calendar shows that these blotters must be from 1914, 1925, 1931, or 1942.

The upper blotter (and there are several like this) comes from the Northwestern Mutual [Life?] Insurance Company. Their phone is 357-A. Others list the number of the agent, A. Earl Harger, as 35. The Northern Ohio Telephone Directory for 1925 lists a J. D. Conclin & Son agency at 125 N. Main with a phone of 35; there is no listing for a Harger Agency. The 1926 directory was not available. But the 1927, 1928 and 1934-36 directories list Harger with a phone number of 25 at 125 N. Main. The 1937 directory lists them at 175 N. Main with a four digit phone number of 6221. So in that year they moved (or street numbering was changed) and got a new phone number.

The conclusion is that the blotters were printed in either 1925 or 1931. Of course, these blotters could have been inserted anytime after they were printed, and long after the slides were acquired.

I own a projector that bears a plate reading

Victor Portable Stereopticon
Model ??  Serial No.  ?????
Patented May 27, 1913, Jan. 5, 1914
Victor Animatograph Co.
Davenport Iowa USA

This is the company of the motion-picture pioneer Alexander F. Victor. The name of the company was changed to the "Victor Animatograph Co." in 1915. On May 27, 1913 they received patent number 1,062,622 for a Cylindrical Steriopticon and on January 5, 1914, number  1,062,622 for a Steriopicon.

Page updated, February 2007.