What was the funding structure of pure math research before NSF grants and other modern government or private financial aid? In the recent past in North America and Western Europe (say, 100-200 years ago), did mathematicians ever need to write grant proposals? Did they seek funding outside the university they were employed by?

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1 Answer 1


I believe mathematicians could apply for funding from the Carlsberg Foundation as far back as 1876. See the history page [1] of the foundation.

Patronage was the more common form of support, I think, in the 19th century. Ramanujan had a patron in 1910, it seems [2].

I hope someone knows more of the history than I.

[1]: https://www.carlsbergfondet.dk/en/About-the-Foundation/The-Carlsberg-Foundation/The-Carlsberg-Foundation%E2%80%99s-History-

[2]: Borwein, Jonathan M., and Peter B. Borwein. "Ramanujan and pi." Scientific American 258.2 (1988): 112-117.

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