Ernst Mach as an Applicant and the Candidate secundo loco for two Professorships of Physics in Prague in 1866–67

  • Emilie TěšínskáEmail author
Part of the Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook book series (VCIY, volume 22)


Within the winter semester of school year 1866/67, two professorships of physics were announced to be vacant in Prague with the beginning of the following summer semester, namely the only professorship of physics at “Karl Ferdinands-Universität” (KFU) and one of two professorships of general and technical physics at the “Polytechnisches Landes-Institut des Kőnigreiches Böhmen” (PLI). Ernst Mach, a 28-year-old Professor of Physics at “Karl Franzens-Universität” in Graz, applied for both of the Prague professorships at the end of 1866. By the Supreme decision of 11 March 1867, he was appointed as professor of physics at the KFU, where he then spent a full 28 prolific years of his life and professional career.

This paper focuses on the consideration of Ernst Mach’s candidacy for the two Prague Professorships of Physics by the bodies of professors of the respective higher education establishments in the context of other applicants and the qualification criteria set for either of the posts.

The paper is predominately based on historical sources found in archives in Prague, which, however, are quite fragmentary on the topic. Complementary documents and data were provided by courtesy of some foreign archives. The aim of the paper is to contribute, though just a small amount, to the existing biographical literature on Ernst Mach. It can also serve as a case illustration on career mobility and professional contacts within the academic community in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and neighbouring German-language countries in the second half of the nineteenth century.



It is my pleasant duty to thank all the archives and people who were helpful and encouraged me to the research on the topic.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Contemporary History AS CRPragueCzech Republic

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