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Eric Reissner Papers
MSS 0416  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Creator: Reissner, Eric
    Title: Eric Reissner Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1930 - 1996
    Extent: 11.60 linear feet (29 archives boxes)
    Abstract: Papers of Eric Reissner (1913-1996), professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1938-1969) and professor of applied mechanics and engineering sciences at the University of California, San Diego (1970-1979). Reissner's research interests included problems of turbulence and aerodynamic wing theory, the theory of elasticity and problems concerning the behavior of elastic beams, plates and shells. The collection includes biographical materials, Reissner's publications, correspondence, research reports, and teaching materials. The Eric Reissner Papers are arranged in five series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS, 4) TEACHING MATERIALS, and 5) SUBJECT FILES.
    Repository: University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Collection number: MSS 0416
    Language of Material: Collection materials in English


    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available

    Preferred Citation

    Eric Reissner Papers, MSS 0416. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.


    Eric Reissner was born in 1913 in Aachen, Germany, the eldest son of Hans Reissner, a pioneer in German aviation. From 1931 to 1936, Reissner attended the Technische Hochschule Berlin, where his father taught applied mechanics. Reissner received a Dipl. Ing. in applied mathematics in 1935 and a Dr. Ing. in civil engineering in 1936, summa cum laude. In response to the political developments in Germany, Reissner accepted a scholarship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and went on to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1938. Reissner taught at MIT until his retirement in 1969; he became an American citizen in 1945.
    During several summers in the late 1940s and 1950s, Reissner held temporary staff appointments in government and industry including positions at the Langley Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (1948, 1951), Ramo-Wooldridge (1954, 1955), and the Palo Alto Research Laboratory of the Lockheed Corporation (1956, 1957). Between 1949 and 1960, Reissner served as Consulting Mathematics Editor for the Addison-Wesley Publishing Company.
    In 1970, Reissner accepted a professorship at the University of California, San Diego in the growing Department of Applied Mechanics and Engineering Sciences, where he served as its chairman (1972-1973). He retired from UCSD in 1979 as professor emeritus.
    Throughout his career Reissner was awarded many honors. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1950, and in 1964, he received an honorary doctorate in engineering from the University of Hannover in Germany for his groundbreaking work in the field of elastomechanics. In 1964, Reissner was also awarded the von Karman Medal of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) awarded Reissner the Timoshenko Medal in 1973 and elected him as an honorary member in 1991. In 1976, he was elected a member of the prestigeous National Academy of Engineering. In 1980, Pergamon Press published an anniversary volume of MECHANICS TODAY dedicated to Reissner on his 65th birthday. In 1984, he received the Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for his contributions to the aerospace community.
    Reissner's career was dedicated mainly to research and teaching. He published over 280 articles and books, including a textbook, co-authored with William Martin, on differential equations entitled ELEMENTARY DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS (1961), and a book of his selected works, published shortly before his death in 1996, entitled SELECTED WORKS IN APPLIED MECHANICS AND MATHEMATICS (1996). During the early part of his career, Reissner's research dealt with the problems of turbulence and aerodynamic wing theory. Later, his research contributions were in the areas of variational principles in the theory of elasticity and linear and non-linear problems concerning the behavior of elastic beams, plates and shells. He is best known for his contributions in the areas of elasticity, stress and strain, and the theory of plates and shells.
    Eric Reissner died in 1996.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Eric Reissner Papers document the career of a well-known mathematician in the area of applied mechanics who studied problems of turbulence and aerodynamic wing theory, elasticity, and linear and non-linear problems concerning the behavior of elastic beams, plates and shells. The collection is highly technical and includes biographical materials, most of Reissner's published papers, several unpublished articles, research reports, and teaching materials from classes given at MIT and UCSD. Also included are Reissner's class notes from graduate school at the Technische Hochschule Berlin. The materials are arranged in five series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS, 4) TEACHING MATERIALS, and 5) SUBJECT FILES.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series contains professional awards, certificates and diplomas, articles about Reissner, articles dedicated to Reissner, photographs of Reissner, and personal ephemera.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged in two subseries: A) General and B) Chronological, 1973-1979. The General subseries contains Reissner's academic correspondence, arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent. There is correspondence with former students who became prominent in the field, including Fred Wan, Jim Simmonds, Satya Atlluri, and James Knowles. Other prominent correspondents include S. Timoshenko, Ernest Axelrad, Charles W. Bert, Hans Bufler, Robert Clark, and the Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, where Reissner acted as a consulting editor from 1949 to 1960. There is also a lively correspondence with scholars around the world, mostly on technical mathematical issues.
    The subseries Chronological, 1973-1979, contains a file of Reissner's outgoing correspondence from 1973 to 1979, while he was at UCSD. Reissner came to UCSD in 1970, and during 1972-1973 he was chair of the Department of AMES. The series is composed mostly of personal correspondence to colleagues around the world.
    The WRITINGS series is arranged in five subseries: A) Publications, B) Unpublished Works, C) Reports for Companies, D) Class Notes 1931-1935, and E) Unfinished Papers.
    A) The Publications subseries contains most of Reissner's published materials. Also included are some early handwritten manuscripts, which are filed along with the published reprints. This series is arranged numerically according to the Publication List of Eric Reissner that appears at the beginning of the series.
    B) The Unpublished Works subseries contains materials written by Reissner that were not published.
    C) In the 1940s and 1950s, Reissner spent his summers holding staff appointments at various companies including the Langley Research Center at NASA, the Space Technology Laboratory of TRW Corporation, and the Palo Alto Research Laboratory of the Lockheed Corporation. The subseries Reports for Companies contains the reports he wrote for these companies during his temporary appointments. The series is arranged alphabetically.
    D) The subseries Class Notes 1931-1935 contains Reissner's class notes from his time as a graduate student at the Technische Hochschule Berlin. It is arranged alphabetically by title of course.
    E) The Unfinished Papers subseries was identified by Reissner as his "unfinished work" and includes writings from the 1940s through the 1970s. There is work on generalized, three-dimensional plate theory (1970), helicoidal shells, plates on elastic foundations (1965), post-buckling behavior, and work from 1940-1950 on aerodynamics. This series is arranged alphabetically by title.
    This series is arranged in three subseries: A) Class Notes - MIT, B) Class Notes - UCSD, and C) Serminars, Talks and Lectures.
    A) The first subseries, on Class Notes - MIT, contains class notes taken by Reissner's students during his lectures, as well as some of Reissner's own lecture notes. It is arranged alphabetically by course name or number.
    B) The Class Notes - UCSD subseries contains Reissner's own notes for the classes he taught in the Department of AMES at UCSD, as well as some notes taken by his students during his lectures.
    C) Throughout his career Reissner travelled extensively to other universities to deliver talks and seminars. The subseries Seminars, Talks and Lectures contains many of his notes for these talks. The series is arranged alphabetically either by title of the talk or by the name of the institution at which the talk was given.
    This is a small series arranged alphabetically and contains material on plate theory history, including notes for an oral presentation by Reissner, his correspondence on plate theory history, and a file of reprints of important papers on plate theory. It also includes a file on an elasticity workshop held at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, in 1983, as well as information on Reissner's visiting appointment to Berlin in 1965.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Reissner, Eric -- Archives
    University of California, San Diego -- History -- Archival resources
    University of California, San Diego -- Faculty -- Archival resources
    University of California, San Diego. -- Dept. of Applied Mechanics and Engineering Sciences -- Archives
    Civil engineers -- Biography
    Civil engineering -- Research
    Mechanical engineering -- Research
    Elastic plates and shells


    Alturi, Satya, -- correspondent
    Axelrad, E. L. -- (Ernest L.), 1927- -- correspondent
    Bert, Charles Wesley, 1929- -- correspondent
    Bufler, Hans, -- correspondent
    Clark, Robert A., -- correspondent
    Naghdi, P. M., -- correspondent
    Steele, Charles W., -- correspondent
    Wan, Fred Y. M., -- correspondent
    Addison-Wesley Press, -- correspondent