Advancing Research with the Open Court


The Open Court 33, no. 3 (March 1919)

Paul Carus, Mary Carus, Libby Carus, and Paula Carus

Paul, Mary, and daughters Libby and Paula (left to right), c. 1918

<em>The Carus Mathematical Monographs</em>

The Carus Mathematical Monographs


Gilbert Ames Bliss, Calculus of Variations, vol. 1, The Carus Mathematical Monographs


Mary Hegeler Carus, "The Geology of La Salle County" (n.d.)

Mary at nearly the age of 60 would add another impressive achievement to her already very complete and successful life. Upon the passing of her husband in 1919, she assumed the position of the president of the Open Court Publishing Company. Concurrent with her executive role with M&H, she served in this capacity for the remainder of her life. Her daughter Elisabeth, now in her 20s, would also serve alongside her in managing the publishing company.

Paul Carus had published The Open Court up to its 33rd volume. Mary’s period overseeing the journal would extend its life from volume 33 to 50; this amounted to about 200 issues. Moreover, she would manage the publication of 18 volumes (approximately 70 issues) of The Monist and would further introduce two new special publishing initiatives to the Open Court. The first was the establishment of a book series in honor of her late husband, The Carus Mathematical Monographs. The series was published under the aegis of The Mathematical Association of America with the Open Court serving as financial backer. To support its longevity, Mary with her son Edward established the Edward C. Hegeler Trust Fund in 1921, which made an annual contribution of $1200 for five years. Her intended purpose for the series was to have experts write monographs on cutting-edge mathematical ideas while making them accessible to the largest possible audience. As she put it, the purpose was to be “the diffusion of mathematical and formal thought as contributory to exact knowledge and clear thinking, not only for mathematicians and teachers of mathematics but also for other scientists and the public at large.” While Mary’s involvement with the book series to this end shows her continued interest in pure research, it also shows her continued interest in education and desire to advance the intellectual growth of the greater society.

Mary’s second new initiative with the Open Court was likewise in honor of her husband. She helped fund the establishment of the biennial lecture series, the Paul Carus Lectures. Beginning in 1925 and still funded by the Open Court today, they occur in the form of a series of three lectures presented over three consecutive days at a meeting of the American Philosophical Association (APA). The first award winner was John Dewey, and since then many of the most reputable philosophers have received the honor, such as George Herbert Mead (1931), C. I. Lewis (1944), W. V. Quine (1971), Hillary Putnam (1985), Stanley Cavell (1988), Arthur Danto (2001), and Nancy Cartwright (2017).

Unlike her prolific husband, Mary did not publish books or articles of her own with the Open Court. Yet, this was not for a lack of expertise or skill as a creative writer. Her unpublished manuscript “The Geology of La Salle County” is evidence of her ability as a researcher and scientific thinker. It describes the natural history of the earth as an ever-changing substratum, covers the geographical features of La Salle County, and mentions the wealth of the region’s natural resources for industry. Although the precise date of the manuscript is unknown—sometime after her marriage in 1888—it contains editorial marks throughout suggesting that it may have been prepared for publication. Whatever was the intended use of the essay, it reflects Mary’s expertise as a geologist and perspective as an industrialist. In its final section, “Retrospect,” it also reflects a kind of progressive ideology that is in line with her husband’s philosophical progressivism or “meliorism.” This was an ethical view about the development of history undergoing an evolutionary progress toward a final end of the amelioration of the present condition. Transformed into Mary’s conclusion about geology it becomes: “Thus we see that the past history of this region influences the present, it helps to form the character of our life, and thus becomes a most potent factor in building up the future, whatever the future may have in store for us we know that all these changes are but phases of one grand evolution. In spite of all transiency there is a continuity that connects the remotest past with the most distant future.”

Advancing Research with the Open Court