The 1930s saw the flowering of a unique mathematical community at Princeton University with the construction of a luxurious new building Fine Hall (now Jones Hall) dedicated to the mathematician and Dean Harry Fine and designed to facilitate a real community of mathematicians engaged in research and closely linked with mathematical physicists in the attached Palmer physics laboratory to which it was connected and shared a joint math-physics library. This community was unlike any other in America before that time and perhaps afterwards, and had important consequences for American mathematics. With the planning and founding of the Institute for Advanced Study at the beginning of the decade, originally having only a mathematics department, which then shared Fine Hall with the university mathematics department as a single institute during the period 1933 to 1939, starting with three of the university's leading mathematicians joined by Einstein and Gödel and attracting many visitors, a very exciting environment developed which many students and faculty were loath to leave. Half century later in 1984, one of the original participants Albert Tucker, himself a former mathematics department chair at Princeton, was motivated by Princetonian historian of science Charles Gillispie to capture some of the personal reminiscences of the remaining survivors of the period on tape himself with the help of William Aspray, which were then transcribed and organized into a body of written transcripts by then graduate student Rik Nebeker.

The original recordings of these conversations are housed at Princeton's Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, and transcripts are available below: