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Personal Papers of Joan Kirkham

Call Number: PP 569


This collection includes correspondence, research, employment documentation, and photographs pertaining to Joan Kirkham's career as a mathematician with such institutions as the Denver Research Institute, McDonnell Aviation, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD); and information related to her personal life.


  • Creation: 1926 - 2015


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Joan Kirkham

Joan Kirkham was born December 21, 1926 in Topeka, Kansas. After graduating from Seaman high school in 1944, she attended the University of Kansas in Lawrence, starting as a music major and playing the trumpet before switching to mathematics.

Kirkham graduated with her B.A. in math in 1948 and received her M.A. in 1960 from the University of Denver. Throughout her career she worked at the Denver Research Institute, McDonnell Aviation in St. Louis, Mo., and for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs. While at NORAD she tracked reflective objects in space, such as satellites and manmade debris.

After retiring in 1987, Kirkham continued being active in the National Association of Parliamentarians, serving as president of the Colorado division from 1988-1990. Eventually she moved back to Lawrence, Kan. and established the Joan Kirkham Mathematics Opportunity Award for graduate students in the mathematics department to help them pay for travel to conferences or summer research.

Joan Kirkham passed away October 11, 2015.


2.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes + 1 oversize box)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 569

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Jane Berger, 2015.


Guide to the Joan Kirkham Collection
Personal Papers of Joan Kirkham
Finding aid prepared by rar. Finding aid encoded by rar.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Joan Kirkham, PP 569, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States