Lehmer, Derrick Norman.

Alternative names
Birth 1867-07-27
Death 1938-09-08

Biographical notes:

Professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Derrick Norman Lehmer was also an accomplished writer of poems and sonnets, and composer of numerous songs, many based on American Indian lore, and two operas.

From the description of Derrick Norman Lehmer musical compositions, 1926-1937. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 38295444

Derrick Norman Lehmer (July 27, 1867-September 8, 1938) was an American mathematician and number theorist. He was appointed instructor in mathematics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1900, promoted to professor in 1918, and continued to teach there until retiring in 1937.

John Dee (1527-1608) was an English mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, occultist, navigator, imperialist, and consultant to Queen Elizabeth I. He devoted much of his life to the study of alchemy, divination and Hermetic philosophy.

Sir Edward Kelley, also known as Edward Talbot (August 1, 1555-November 1, 1597) was an ambiguous figure in English Renaissance occultism and self-declared spirit medium who worked with John Dee in his magical investigations. Besides the professed ability to summon spirits or angels on a crystal ball, which John Dee so valued, Kelley also claimed to possess the secret of transmuting base metals into gold.

From the description of The crystal gazers : a drama of Old Prague, 1936 / by Derrick Norman Lehmer. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 758544855


(from the Berkeley Gazette, September 8, 1938).

Dr. Derrick Norman Lehmer, professor of mathematics emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley, poet and composer, died at his home, 2736 Regent Street, this morning after an extended illness. He retired from the University on July 27, 1937 after a service of 37 years as instructor, assistant professor, and professor.

Dr. Lehmer was born on July 27, 1867 at Somerset, Indiana, the son and grandson of Pennsylvania pioneers and the great grandson of a Hessian tropper who later joined the Continental Army and settlted in Pennsylvania. His mother was Isabel Smith Perry, born in 1823 in Covington, Kentucky.

His primary education was received in the schools of Nebraska and he received his A.B. degree from the University of that State in 1893. His master's degree followed from the same institution in 1896, and he received his doctorate at the University of Chicago in 1900, in which year he came to the University of California as instructor in mathematics. In the same year he married Eunice Mitchell at Decatur, Illinois.

Professor Lehmer's talents as poet and composer matched his skill as a mathemetician. While achieving a high place in the world of mathematics, he also held membership in the Poetry Society of London and the Poetry Society of America and wrote numerous poems and sonnets that won wide recognition. His production of the Indian opera "The Necklace of the Sun" was seen twice in Oakland and once in San Francisco, and his songs, particularly those taken from Indian lore were well received everywhere.

Memberships in distinguished societies included Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Epsilon, American Mathematical Society, Circolo Refinconti de Palermo, Mathematical Association of America and member of its executive council; American Geographical Society, American Anthropological Society, Poetry Society of America, Poetry Society of London, California Writers' Club, Bookfellows, Nebraska Writers Guild, League of Western Writers. He was also a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science.

During his service at the University of California at Berkeley, Dr. Lehmer also filled the position of fellow in mathematics at the University of Nebraska, University of Chicago and research assistant at the Carnegie Institution.

Professor Lehmer is survived by his widow, Mrs. Eunice Mitchell Lehmer, and by four daughters and sons: Mrs. Charles Henry Blake of Lincoln, Mass., Mrs. Henry Colman Coffee of Berkeley, Prof. Derrick H. Lehmer of Lehigh University and Stephen M. Lehmer of Mountain View. He also leaves four grandchildren.

From the guide to the Derrick Norman Lehmer Musical Compositions, 1926-1937, (The Music Library)


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Ark ID:


  • Metaphysics--Drama
  • Composers
  • Magic--Drama
  • Psychics--Drama
  • Parapsychology--Drama
  • Occultism--Drama
  • Alchemy--Drama
  • Mediums--Drama
  • Clairvoyance--Drama
  • Songs--Scores
  • Crystal gazing--Drama
  • Indians of North America--Songs and music--Adaptations


  • Composers


  • Staré Město (Prague, Czech Republic) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • California--Berkeley (as recorded)