The journal began as The Analyst in 1874, founded and edited by Joel E. Hendricks. It was "intended to afford a medium for the presentation and analysis of any and all questions of interest or importance in pure and applied Mathematics, embracing especially all new and interesting discoveries in theoretical and practical astronomy, mechanical philosophy, and engineering". It was published in Des Moines, Iowa, and was the earliest American mathematics journal to be published continuously for more than a year or two. This incarnation of the journal ceased publication after its tenth year, 1883, giving as an explanation Hendricks's declining health, but Hendricks made arrangements to have it taken over by new management, and it was continued from March 1884 as the Annals of Mathematics.
An important period for the journal was 1928-1958 with Solomon Lefschetz as editor. During this time, Annals became an increasingly well-known and respected journal. The rise of Annals, in turn, stimulated American mathematics.
Princeton University continued to publish the Annals on its own until 1933, when the Institute for Advanced Study took joint editorial control. Since 1998 it has been available in an electronic edition, alongside its regular print edition. The electronic edition is available without charge, as an open access journal.
The current editors of the Annals of Mathematics are:
The Annals should not be confused with the Mathematische Annalen, an unrelated German mathematical journal.