Biography and History

Kurt Friedrich Gödel was born April 28, 1906, in Brünn, Moravia, and died January 14, 1978, in Princeton, New Jersey. His life may be divided into three periods, corresponding both to his place of residence and to the nature of his intellectual endeavors.

Gödel's childhood and youth were spent in Brünn, where his father worked as a manager of a textile factory. He attended German-language primary and secondary schools, graduating with honors in 1924. After graduation he enrolled at the University of Vienna, where he joined his brother Rudolf (born 1902). Gödel remained at the University of Vienna, first as student and later as Privatdozent (an unpaid lecturer), until his emigration to America in 1940. He became an Austrian citizen in 1929. Later that year, in his doctoral dissertation, Gödel established the completeness of the first-order predicate calculus, a work that marked the beginning of a decade of fundamental contributions to mathematical logic, including especially his proofs of the incompleteness of formal number theory (1930, published 1931) and of the relative consistency of the axiom of choice and the generalized continuum hypothesis (1935 and 1937, published 1938-1940). His residence in Vienna was interrupted by three trips to the United States, where he visited the Institute for Advanced Study (1933-1934, Autumn 1935, and Autumn 1938) and the University of Notre Dame (Spring 1939). He married Adele Nimbursky (née Porkert) in Vienna, September 20, 1938.

In January 1940, fearing conscription into the Nazi army, Gödel left Europe with his wife via the trans-Siberian railway. Arriving in San Francisco on March 4, 1940, the Gödels settled in Princeton, where he resumed his membership in the Institute for Advanced Study. He became a permanent member in 1946, a U.S. citizen in 1948, professor at the Institute in 1953, and professor emeritus in 1976. At the Institute, Gödel's interests turned to philosophy and physics. He studied the works of Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz in detail and, to a lesser extent, those of Immanuel Kant and Edmund Husserl. In the late 1940s he demonstrated the existence of paradoxical solutions to Albert Einstein's field equations in general relativity. His last published paper appeared in 1958. He shared the first Einstein Award in 1951 and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1975. He also received honorary doctorates from Yale, Harvard, and Rockefeller universities, and from Amherst College.

Source: From the finding aid for C0282

Occupations

  • Mathematicians -- United States -- 20th century..
  • Kurt Gödel Papers. 1905-1980 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0282

    The papers comprise documents relating to all periods of the life of Kurt Gödel, foremost mathematical logician of the twentieth century, including scientific correspondence, notebooks, drafts, unpublished manuscripts, academic, legal, and financial records, and all manner of loose notes and memoranda.

  • Kurt Gödel Papers. 1905-1980 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0282

    The papers comprise documents relating to all periods of the life of Kurt Gödel, foremost mathematical logician of the twentieth century, including scientific correspondence, notebooks, drafts, unpublished manuscripts, academic, legal, and financial records, and all manner of loose notes and memoranda.