Agnes Scott College

Marian Marsh Torrey


December 9, 1893 - September 16, 1971

Marian Torrey was born in Malden, Massachusetts. She earned her A.B. degree in mathematics at the Women's College of Brown University in 1916. As a senior she won the 1916 Emma Josephine Arnold Fellowship for post-graduate work in higher mathematics. She used this $500 award to complete her master's degree from Brown in 1917. After several years of work as a mathematics teacher, in 1920 she was hired as an instructor in mathematics at West Virginia University at a 9-month salary of $1350. During her three years at WVU, she also spent several summers studying at the University of Chicago. When her thesis advisor at Chicago experienced health issues, she moved to Cornell University where she received her Ph.D. in 1924 under the direction of Virgil Snyder (and thus her "mathematical grandfather" was Felix Klein). Her thesis was on "Classification of Monoidal Involutions Having a Fixed Tangent Cone" [Abstract]. This was published in the American Journal of Mathematics, Vol. 47 (1925), pp181-206.

After a one-year position as a mathematics instructor at the University of Illinois, Torrey joined the faculty at Goucher College in 1925 where she spent the rest of her professional career. In 1932 her paper on "Some Properties of the Fundamental Curves of a Birational Transformation in Space" was published in the American Journal of Mathematics. Torrey rose through the academic ranks and was promoted to professor in 1942. She was the chair of the mathematics department for 14 years, from 1943 to 1957, before retiring from Goucher in 1959.

The Mathematics and Computer Science Club at Goucher College held it annual Torrey Dinner each April to honor graduating mathematics and computer science majors. The Marian M. Torrey Prize in Mathematics was awarded at the dinner to "senior majors in mathematics who are selected by the department for their excellent records, firm grasp of subject matter, creative imagination, incisive thinking, and ability to present ideas clearly." Goucher College eliminated the mathematics major in 2018.


  1. Green, Judy and Jeanne LaDuke. Pioneering Women in American Mathematics: The Pre-1940 PhD's, History of Mathematics, Vol. 34 (2009), American Mathematical Society and London Mathematical Society, 301-302. [Google Books Preview]
  2. Goucher College mathematics website with information about Special Prizes and Awards. (Last accessed August 4, 2017-no longer available)
  3. Mathematics Genealogy Project

Photo Credit: Photograph used with permission of the Archives of Goucher College.