Karl Menger’s Unfinished Biography of His Father: New Insights into Carl Menger’s Life through 1889

Reinhard Schumacher and Scott Scheall
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Publication Date: 
Thursday, January 9, 2020

During the last years of his life, the mathematician Karl Menger worked on a biography of his father, the economist and founder of the Austrian School of Economics, Carl Menger. The younger Menger never finished the work. While working in the Menger collections at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, we discovered draft chapters of the biography, a valuable source of information given that relatively little is known about Carl Menger’s life nearly a hundred years after his death. The unfinished biography covers Carl Menger’s family background and his life through early 1889. In this article, we discuss the biography and the most valuable new insights it provides into Carl Menger’s life, including Carl Menger’s family, his childhood, his student years, his time working as a journalist and newspaper editor, his early scientific career, and his relationship with Crown Prince Rudolf.

University of Potsdam (Schumacher) and Arizona State University (Scheall)