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mathematics above all

George Frederick William Baehr

What is this story? And this project?

George's career began in the military. In fact, one can say he was born into it. Baehr's father was a German 1st lieutenant stationed in Antwerp, which allowed George to witness military life from childhood. Moreover, born in 1822, he was only 8 when the Belgian was for Independence erupted, and likely was in Antwerp during the bombardment of the city that year. Such experiences left a profound mark on the boy, pushing him into military service himself.

At the age of fifteen Beahr entered military service hoping to become an artillery officer like his father. Already during his years of education, George was praised for his intelligence, persistence, and talent for mathematics. In 1838 he was promoted to sergeant titular and started teaching younger officers the aforementioned subject.


A 1st lieutenant of his battalion wrote the following about Baehr in 1841: "During the years the young man F. Baehr, who belonged to his pupils, distinguished himself very favorably by a constant diligence and a particularly quick comprehension, and that he was perfectly able to fully understand the various branches of mathematics. teaching, as well as the principles of physics. Young men taught by him had passed the examination for the military academy with honors." 

With such distinctions, a year after, Baehr decided to devote himself to teaching. He went on leave and applied for a position of a teacher of the mathematical and physical sciences to be set up in Delft. In the meantime, he got accepted to teach those subjects at a Gymnasium in Middelburg. His career didn't stop there as in 1847 Baehr also was awarded a diploma from the mathematical society in Amsterdam, as well as the Zeeland Society of sciences.

The next year George arrived in Groningen for the first time. He was allowed to enroll in the preparatory hogeschool. In 1850, aged 28 and sufficiently prepared to attend academic classes, Baehr got accepted to the University of Groningen. Not long after he was already applying for candidacy in mathematics and natural philosophy. Just a year after he received his doctorate.

For thirteen years he stayed in the city teaching mathematics, moving to Delft only in 1864. In 1867 he became a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, and up until his death in 1898, he continued to build and shape mathematic and philosophical teachings in the polytechnic school in Delft. After his death, by his testament, a scholarship for the students of that school was established, in the name of his father Lorenz Ludwig, 'for one or more students who have demonstrated an excellent aptitude for mathematics'.

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