This website is made possible by generous donations from users just like you. $18 helps keep JWA online for one day.  Please consider making a gift to JWA today!
Close [x]


You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Lillian R. Lieber

Frustrated with the way math is taught in schools, Lillian R. Lieber created unconventional, popular books to excite young readers and incite their curiosity. Lieber studied at Barnard and Columbia before earning her PhD from Clark University in 1914. From 1917–1918 she led the physics department at Wells College in Aurora, New York and taught at various schools before joining the math department at Long Island University in 1934. Her husband, Hugh Gray Lieber, was chair of the math department, but when he moved to chair the art department, Lillian R. Lieber succeeded him as math department chair from 1945–1954, when she retired. Lieber often pointed out that although most developments in math happened after 1800, students didn’t learn about those exciting, newer aspects until college. Beginning in 1931, she began creating books written in free verse, illustrated by her husband, that explained concepts like non-Euclidean geometry, lattice theory, and Einstein’s theory of relativity in an approachable but mathematically rigorous way, a precursor to Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time. Lieber’s books engaged readers and encouraged them to question long-held assumptions as a path to discovery and innovation.

More on Lillian R. Lieber
Lillian Lieber
Full image
Mathematician Lillian Lieber.
Courtesy of Robert Jantzen.
Date of Birth
July 26, 1886
Place of Birth
Date of Death
July 11, 1986

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Lillian R. Lieber." (Viewed on December 17, 2018) <>.


Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

The JWA Podcast

listen now

Sign Up for JWA eNews


Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs