For some background on Lang and his files, one can read the first part of Lang's obituary in the AMS Notices at http://www.ams.org/notices/200605/fea-lang.pdf.

The book "Challenges" was published in 1997. I guess Lang went on to gather documentation regarding several cases dealt with in the book after its publication. Consequently, several related files must have contained much more documentation at the time of Lang's demise than at the time of "Challenges" publication. Besides, "Challenges" does not deal with all the cases Lang has been involved with and interested in.

In addition, the AMS obituary mentions that Lang "has some unpublished books of a political nature".

Are the full (i.e. the whole documentation that Lang had gathered and arranged) files regarding the "Challenges" cases (i.e. those dealt in that book) published somewhere? If not, are they available in some other form? What has happened to Lang's related personal papers?

What about other files not reproduced in "Challenges"? What are they, and where is the documentation?

Same question for Lang's "unpublished books of a political nature".

EDIT 1 (27 November 2012). For some bad reasons, it has taken me several months to decide to write to the Yale librarian. I can now provide a partial answer to my question, that is: these papers have not been deposited at Yale's library. I will follow the librarian's suggestion to write to the University of Texas. If someone there (or elsewhere) reads this post and wants to provide help to locate Lang's papers, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have copied below the message I have received from Yale's librarian following my query. I have hidden the name of the sender, although that may be unnecessary.

November 26, 2012

Dear Mr. Chiche:

I am writing in reply to your e-mail inquiry of October 22, 2012, regarding former Yale professor Serge Lang.

Our on-line catalog shows that the Yale University Library holds a number of Professor Lang’s published works but, if I am interpreting your query correctly, you wish to know about his unpublished writings. The Manuscripts and Archives department does not hold a collection of Professor Lang’s papers. They were offered to us following his death but we declined since the subject matter was outside our collecting areas. We suggested the University of Texas, where a number of mathematical collections are held. I searched OCLC’s World Cat to see if I could locate the papers but I did not find any results. You may wish to contact the library directly to see if the Serge Lang Papers were ever received. Information and assistance is available at http://www.cah.utexas.edu/collections/math.php

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.




Manuscripts and Archives

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    $\begingroup$ There is also the earlier (1981) 'The File' on Ladd--Lipset survey, 700+ pages. (I did not check in detail but just from the page count I guess it should be more detailed than what is on this subject in Challenges). $\endgroup$
    – user9072
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 11:28
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree with your evaluation of Lang's opinions. But I agree that they should be available, and I hope that his full archive is housed at some library somewhere, +1. Have you asked the Yale librarian? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 12:24
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    $\begingroup$ You should definitely contact the Yale library. Hosting a famous person's unpublished papers is a routine activity for American research libraries. This looks like the right place to start: library.yale.edu/mssa $\endgroup$
    – arsmath
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ As a side remark, I'm a bit astonished that Yale's library would decline to keep Lang's papers. $\endgroup$
    – Emerton
    Commented Nov 27, 2012 at 16:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Emerton - Maybe. I had a friend who was writing a thesis with Lang and got fed up with either Lang or his thesis, and told Lang off with some very choice words. Half the department was outraged, the other half cheered. Lang was not universally loved, I guess. Might have influenced Yale's decision. $\endgroup$ Commented May 30, 2013 at 23:13

2 Answers 2


I've got about 70 xeroxed pages received from Lang, some from the 1970s re Lipset (and presumably reproduced in "The File", though I haven't checked this) and some from the 1980's re Huntington, including one sharply worded page addressed to me personally and the rest presumably widely distributed.

(The one addressed to me includes a PS asking me to Xerox it and send copies to Mac Lane and Koblitz; I don't remember if I did so. It's dated "19 May 1927", which I believe is a typo for "19 May 1987".)

If there's sufficient demand, and if these are not available elsewhere (I haven't fully checked), I can have these scanned and posted to the web.


I have a lengthy document entitled "The Fire Without, The Fire Within" written by Lang in 1969 about the Vietnam War, student unrest, why he left Columbia U, etc. I'd be glad to donate it to any interested institution or person. Please contact me for more info.

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    $\begingroup$ How can I contact you? As a mathematician born in Vietnam I am certainly interested. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 17, 2021 at 19:48

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