View Bruce & Katharine Cornwell's
and Journey to the Center of a Triangle
As a World War II WAC, Katharine Marie Seremal was involved in investigating the ENIAC computer for bomb survey analysis, which fueled her interest in mathematics. Bruce Haynes Cornwell, who in WWII set up radio transmitters in the South Pacific, eventually returned to earn a degree in cartography at at University of Wisconsin. Bruce created graphics for a television station in Madison, Wisconsin, where he was also engaged with the local public radio station. The Cornwells were married in 1956 and eventually moved to Brooklyn, NY. Like many other makers of quality academic film, the Cornwells found it made better financial sense to have additional careers. In New York, he worked in the brand new Geographic Information Services department of an industrial engineering firm, Gibbs & Hill, starting in the late 1970s, working on a 640x480 raster graphics display system with 24-bit color. Later he supervised aspects of computerized mapping for the NYC Department of City Planning, and his last position was with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden doing similar work on a much smaller scale for their plant records department. Katharine became a consultant specializing in executive compensation. Eventually, Bruce taught at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, the New School, and the School of Visual Arts.
Bruce has stated that his interest in math films was influenced by his seeing Disney’s ‘Donald in Mathmagic Land,’ which prompted his comment "anyone with half a brain and one hand tied behind his back could make a better film." Bruce passed away on January 26, 2012, and Katharine on March 4, 2013, at the age of 93.
For the Mathematical Association Of America in conjunction with Stanford University, a number of films of at least fourteen titles were produced at the Cornwells' studio for the MAA Calculus series from 1965-1968, under various directors. This may be an incomplete list (hanks to researcher Greg Javer for contributing many of these titles). We do not have the names of most of these films, but among them are:
Area Under a Curve
For Houghton Mifflin, the Cornwells, in conjunction with Duane W. Bailey, made a 1973 series called 'Calculus in Motion,' consisting of eight 3 minute, color, animated, silent 8mm loops. They were available as either Technicolor Magicartridges or Kodak Cassettes. They are:
Concavity and Points of inflection
They also made a series for Houghton Mifflin in 1974 called 'Relativity: a Series of Computer animated Films, in conjunction with Robert Ehrlich, again on Super 8mm silent cartridges. All are 4 minutes in length. The films are:
Cornwell films distributed by Film Associates (BFA)