With the coming of modern manufacturing methods following World War I, statistics grew into a separate discipline of the mathematical sciences. Statistical quality control and sampling schemes, two of the major developments of the 1920s, had far-reaching consequences for industrial development prior to World War II. However, the training ground for the statistician was still the mathematics graduate programs.
In the late 1920s, the American mathematical community grew rapidly, aided by new support from foundations and a National Research Council fellowship program funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. The top research universities established research instructorships in mathematics, a precursor to the postdoctoral positions of a later era. These instructorships were nonrenewable term appointments for two to four years with slightly reduced teaching loads. They were funded by the universities and increased the opportunity for postdoctoral experience at research universities.
For mathematics as for other sectors of society, the Depression brought an increase in unemployment and a decrease in salaries. The job market remained difficult during this period, and many new job seekers found only temporary employment or positions at the pre-college level. In spite of the prevailing poor economic conditions, the 1930s were a period of growth for the mathematical sciences community: the number of doctorates awarded increased from 351 in 1920–1929 to 780 in 1930–1939. PhD production during the 1930s was fairly constant, with some 80 degrees awarded annually. About 15% of the degrees in mathematics came from three departments (at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and Princeton University) that were rated as “distinguished” and a further 50% from a group of about 15 “strong” departments. Opportunities for postdoctoral education were increased with the establishment of the Institute for Advanced Study in 1932. The Institute for Mathematical Statistics, a professional society for mathematical statistics, was organized in 1935.
In the United States through the 1930s, teaching was emphasized, both in the way departments conducted their business and in the way graduate students were educated. The heavy teaching load of U.S. university and college faculty allowed little time for research. In much of Europe, however, the emphasis was on research, and faculty had a normal teaching load approximately half that of their American counterparts.
In the mid-to late 1930s, the political conditions in Nazi Germany induced a number of mathematicians at universities in German-controlled areas to emigrate to the United States. World-renowned mathematicians such as Richard Courant, Hermann Weyl, and Hans Rademacher were among the emigrés. The U.S. mathematical community was infused with mathematical talent that would have an effect for generations to come. The additional strain on the U.S. job market for mathematicians was noticeable but not severe. By the end of 1939, 51 mathematicians had left their posts at German-speaking universities and come to the United States. Some were hired directly by the Institute for Advanced Study and a few universities, while others were placed in temporary positions. Although