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Finding Aid to The Albert Einstein Archives


Albert Einstein Archives
The Library Authority
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Jerusalem 91904, Israel.
Tel.: +972-2-6585781
FAX: +972-2-6586910
email: aearequests@savion.huji.ac.il

Originally published in 2003. Updated in 2012.


XML file created by SPI Technologies Ltd, UK in March 2002 on the basis of “The Guide to the Albert Einstein Archives, created 2002 by Ze’ev Rosenkranz.

Finding aid written in English.

Description of the Collection
Title of the Collection

The Albert Einstein Archives

Dates of the Collection

1712, 1859-60, 1869, 1871, 1878-1887, 1891-present (bulk 1901-1955)

Location of the Collection

Edmond J.Safra Campus, Giva’at Ram
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Jerusalem, Israel

Extent and medium of the Collection

c. 80,000 items (54 meters)

Name of creator

Einstein, Albert (1879-1955)

Short Description of the Collection

This collection contains the personal papers of Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and supplementary material collected at the Albert Einstein Archives. The material documents the life and career of Albert Einstein. The collection includes the manuscripts of Einstein’s scientific and non-scientific writings, his correspondence with scientific colleagues and non-scientific contemporaries, his general correspondence as well as his personal documents and family correspondence. The collection also includes non-textual materials such as photographs, sound recordings and film footage.

Language/scripts of the Material

Material chiefly in German and English; some material in French, Italian, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, and other languages. Small amount of the material in German is in Gothic script.

Einstein's Biographical Timeline

The Early Years
1879 Born March 14 at 11:30 AM in Ulm, Germany
1880 Einstein family moves to Munich
1885-1888 Pupil at Catholic elementary school in Munich
Private lessons in Judaism at home
1888-94 Pupil at Luitpold-Gymnasium, Munich
Religious instruction at school (until 1892)
1894 Parents move to Milan
Six months later, Einstein leaves Gymnasium without completing his schooling and joins his family in Pavia, Italy
The Swiss Years
1895-96 Pupil at cantonal school in Aarau, Switzerland
1896 Renounces his German citizenship
1896-1900 Student at the Polytechnic (later the Federal Institute of Technology), Zurich
1901 Acquires Swiss citizenship
Completes his first scientific paper
1901-02 Temporary teaching position at school in Schaffhausen, Switzerland
1902 Daughter Lieserl born to Mileva Marić in Novi Sad, Hungary
Appointed as technical expert third class at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern
1903 Marriage to Mileva Marić in Bern
Founds "Akademie Olympia" with Conrad Habicht and Maurice Solovine
Daughter Lieserl probably put up for adoption
1904 Son Hans Albert born in Bern
1905 The annus mirabilis : completes papers on light quanta, Brownian motion, and special theory of relativity
Receives Ph.D. from Zurich University
1906 Promoted to technical expert second class at the Swiss Patent Office
1907 Discovers the principle of equivalence
1908 Appointed lecturer at Bern University
1909 Resigns from Patent Office
Appointed Associate Professor of theoretical physics at Zurich University
1910 Second son Eduard born in Bern
1911 Predicts bending of light
1911-12 Professor of theoretical physics at German University of Prague
1912-14 Professor of theoretical physics at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
The Berlin Years
1914 Appointed Professor at University of Berlin (without teaching obligations) and Member of Prussian Academy of Sciences
Separates from his wife, Mileva Marić - she returns to Zurich with the two sons
Signs anti-war "Manifesto to Europeans"
1915 Joins pacifist "New Fatherland League"
Completes logical structure of the general theory of relativity
1916 Publication of the general theory of relativity
1917 Writes first paper on cosmology
Appointed Director of Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics in Berlin
1917-1920 Suffers from a liver ailment, a stomach ulcer, jaundice and general weakness - his cousin Elsa
Einstein Loewenthal takes care of him
1918 Supports the new Weimar Republic in Germany
1919 Divorces Mileva Marić
Bending of light observed during solar eclipse in West Africa and Brazil
First discussions on Zionism with Kurt Blumenfeld
Marries his cousin Elsa
Announcement at joint meeting of Royal Society and Royal Astronomical Society that Einstein's theories have been confirmed by eclipse observations
Sensational headlines in The Times and The New York Times : Einstein becomes a world figure
1920 Mass meeting against the general theory of relativity in Berlin
Appointed special visiting professor at Leiden University
1921 First visit to the U.S. with Chaim Weizmann: fund-raising tour for The Hebrew University
Lectures at Princeton University on theory of relativity
1922 Completes first paper on unified field theory
Visit to Paris contributes to normalization of French-German relations
Joins Committee on Intellectual Cooperation of the League of Nations
Lecture tours in Japan and China
Awarded Nobel Prize for Physics for 1921
1923 Visit to Palestine: holds inaugural scientific lecture at future site of The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, named first honorary citizen of Tel Aviv
Visit to Spain
Lecture in acknowledgment of Nobel Prize in Göteborg, Sweden
Edits first collection of scientific papers of The Hebrew University
1924 The "Einstein-Institute" in Potsdam, Germany, housed in the "Einstein-Tower" starts its activities
1925 Trip to South America: Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay
Signs manifesto against obligatory military service
Joins Board of Governors and Academic Council of The Hebrew University
1927 Begins intense debate with Niels Bohr on the foundations of quantum mechanics
1928 Suffers temporary physical collapse - enlargement of the heart is diagnosed
1930 Intensive activity on behalf of pacifism
1930-32 Three trips to U.S.: stays mainly at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, during winter semesters
1932 Supports conservation of the Weimar Republic
Public correspondence with Sigmund Freud on the nature of war
Appointed Professor at The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton
Plans to divide his time between Berlin and Princeton
Leaves Germany for the last time
The Princeton Years
1933 Declares that he will not return to Germany Resigns from Prussian Academy of Sciences
Spends spring and summer in Belgium and Oxford
Emigrates to U.S. in September
Why War? published
1934 Collection of essays The World As I See It published
1935 The Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox is published
1936 Elsa Einstein dies
1938 Publication of The Evolution of Physics
1939 Signs famous letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt recommending U.S. research on nuclear weapons
1940 Acquires U.S. Citizenship
1943 Works as consultant with the Research and Development Division of the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance, section Ammunition and Explosives
1944 Handwritten copy of his 1905 paper on special relativity auctioned for six million dollars in Kansas City, as a contribution to the American war effort
1945 Shattered by the extent of the Holocaust of European Jewry
Shocked by the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
1946 Becomes chairman of the Emergency Committee for Atomic Scientists
Expresses public support for the formation of a world government
1947 Intense activity on behalf of disarmament and world government
1948 Supports creation of the State of Israel
First wife, Mileva Marić, dies in Zurich
Intact aneurysm of the abdominal aorta disclosed
1949 Publication of "Autobiographical Notes"
1950 Signs Last Will and Testament: Otto Nathan and Helen Dukas named co-trustees
The Hebrew University named as the ultimate repository of his personal papers
Collection of essays, Out of My Later Years , published
1952 Offered presidency of the State of Israel
1953 Public support for individuals under investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee
1955 Co-signs the Russell-Einstein Manifesto warning of the nuclear threat
Rupture of the aortic aneurysm
Dies April 18 at 1:15 AM in Princeton Hospital at the age of 76
Body cremated and ashes scattered at an undisclosed place

Archival History

The core of the material in the Albert Einstein Archives was accumulated by Einstein during his lifetime. Following Einstein’s death in Princeton in 1955, the Estate of Albert Einstein was established. In the 1960s, Einstein’s papers were arranged and described by Einstein’s secretary, Helen Dukas, and Harvard professor of physics, Prof. Gerald Holton. Additional material was collected by the executor of the Einstein Estate, Dr. Otto Nathan, and by Helen Dukas from 1955 to 1982.

In the late 1970s, the papers were gradually transferred to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where the first editorial office of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein (CPAE) was located. The material remained the property of the Einstein Estate. An itemized index was compiled by the first editor of the CPAE, Prof. John Stachel, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Einstein’s Last Will and Testament of 1950 stipulated that the Hebrew University would eventually become the final repository of his personal papers and the heir of all of his intellectual property. The papers were transferred to the Jewish National and University Library (JNUL) in Jerusalem. The papers were incorporated into the Department of Manuscripts and Archives as the Albert Einstein Archives. Since 1982, additional material pertaining to Einstein has been collected by the Albert Einstein Archives from various sources around the world.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The personal papers of Albert Einstein were transferred to the Hebrew University from the Estate of Albert Einstein in 1982 in accordance with Einstein’s Last Will and Testament of 1950 and as a result of the transfer agreement between the Estate of Albert Einstein and the Hebrew University of 1982.

Scope and contents of the Collection

Papers of Albert Einstein (1879-1955). The material includes manuscripts of scientific articles, lectures, notebooks and working sheets and articles, lectures, statements, forewords and poems; and correspondence with scientific colleagues and prominent contemporaries and general correspondence; personal and official documents and family correspondence; curiosity items, reprints, newspaper clippings, posters, etc.

The papers reflect Einstein’s personal life, his groundbreaking scientific work, his intense political activities in Europe and the U.S.A., his humanitarian efforts and his involvement with Jewish affairs.

The papers include material relating to the special and general theories of relativity, the quantum theory and quantum mechanics, and the unified field theory in the field of physics; pacifism, militarism, fascism, nationalism, McCarthyism, world government and nuclear disarmament in the field of politics; Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the field of Jewish affairs.

The correspondence includes Einstein’s exchange of letters with fellow physicists such as Planck, Bohr, Schrödinger and Heisenberg and with famous contemporaries such as Sigmund Freud, F.D. Roosevelt, Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, Chaim Weizmann and Thomas Mann. The Albert Einstein Archives also includes sub-collections of non-textual materials: photographs, medals, honorary diplomas, Einstein trivia and collectibles, sound recordings and film footage.

System of Arrangement

The holdings of the Albert Einstein Archives can be divided into the following main sub-collections (according to format):

  1. Textual Materials

    1. The original dispatch of Einstein’s papers from Princeton in 1982. This material is organized into 3 sections – scientific material, non-scientific material and biographical material. Each of these sections is further divided into two sub-sections each. The individual archival items were numbered in accordance with the sequence in which they were microfilmed in the 1970s. The reel numbers listed here pertain to the sequence of the items in the microfilming.

      1. Scientific material
        A.1 Scientific manuscripts and notebooks 1894-1955 (Reels 1-5)
        This sub-section contains the manuscripts of Einstein's scientific articles, papers and lectures, notebooks and working sheets. This material includes the original manuscripts of Einstein's articles on such topics as the general theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, and the unified field theory.
        A.2 Scientific correspondence 1901-1955 (Reels 6-27)
        This sub-section contains Einstein’s correspondence with his scientific colleagues, including Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Max Born, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, and Hendrik A. Lorentz.

      2. Non-Scientific material
        B.1 Non-Scientific manuscripts 1915-1955 (Reel 28)
        This sub-section contains the manuscripts of Einstein’s articles, speeches, lectures, poems and aphorisms in such non-scientific fields as politics, society, philosophy and culture. This material includes Einstein's writings on such subjects as pacifism, Judaism, the nuclear threat, and civil rights.
        B.2 Non-Scientific correspondence 1901-1955 (Reels 32-61)
        This sub-section contains Einstein’s correspondence with prominent contemporaries, e.g., Sigmund Freud, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Walther Rathenau, Thomas Mann, Bertrand Russell, and Albert Schweitzer and on specific topics. It also contains Einstein’s correspondence on non-scientific issues with non-prominent correspondents.

      3. Biographical material
        C.1 Travel diaries 1922-1933 (Reel 29)
        This sub-section contains Einstein’s travel diaries to various locations around the world.
        C.2 Personal documents and correspondence 1879-1955 (Reels 29-32)
        This sub-section contains Einstein’s personal documents, his correspondence with various family members, and his correspondence pertaining to honorary degrees, awards and birthdays.

      Internal organization:
      Each sub-section is divided into series and sub-series according to record type.

      Arrangement within individual series and sub-series:
      Chronological within each record type - published manuscripts, unpublished manuscripts, notebooks, drafts and notes, documents and poems. Alphabetical within correspondence and chronological within the alphabetical order.

    2. Additional archival material collected from various repositories around the world from 1982.
      • Einstein’s working sheets (Reels 62-63) This section contains c. 2,000 working sheets, mainly from Einstein’s attempts to develop a unified field theory.
      • Miscellaneous accruals since 1982 (Reels 65-69 and 120-125) This section contains miscellaneous materials acquired by the Einstein Archives since 1982.

  2. Audiovisual Materials

    The audiovisual materials consist of four main collections:
    • Photographs: the photograph collection consists of formal and informal portraits of Einstein from his earliest years till his death. It also includes photographs of Einstein with family members, friends, colleagues and associates and depicts Einstein at various events and occasions. This collection also contains a substantial number of cartoons featuring Einstein as well as reproductions of paintings and busts which depict him.
    • Sound recordings: this collection includes recordings of Einstein's voice in German and English, speaking on various subjects, such as the famous formula E=mc2 , the role of universities in society, and the nuclear threat.
    • Film footage: this collection features Einstein in newsreels at events such as a Palestine Campaign dinner in New York in 1931, his arrival at Los Angeles pier holding his violin case in 1933, and his meeting with David Ben-Gurion in 1951. The collection also includes video copies of documentaries on Einstein made by various production companies.
    • Multimedia products: this small collection includes CD-ROMs on Einstein or depicting the figure of Einstein

  3. The Albert Einstein Archives Library

    The Library consists of two main collections.
    • Einstein's private library: Einstein's personal library was transferred to The Jewish National & University Library in 1987, following the death of Einstein's step-daughter, Margot Einstein. The library includes books, musical scores and records collected by Einstein throughout his life. The books deal with science, European and American politics and society, literature and culture, religion and philosophy, Judaism and Israel. The musical scores contain works by Einstein's favorite composers, especially Mozart, Bach, and Handel. The records range from classical music to Israeli folk music. It is not known to what extent the library is complete - no inventory from the years in which Einstein lived is extant. But it is known that Einstein's secretary gave some books away to friends and associates following Einstein's death. Einstein's own books and records are supplemented by those of the other members of the Einstein household.
    • Secondary literature: the Einstein Archives also possesses a comprehensive collection of books by and about Einstein. Copies of new editions of Einstein's books are deposited by the publishers and the Archives acquires copies of new books about Einstein.

  4. Artifacts

    The artifact collection consists of two parts:
    • Einstein's diplomas and medals: the Einstein Archives possesses Einstein's personal collection of honorary diplomas and medals, the most prominent of these being the Nobel Prize certificate and medal.
    • Einstein trivia: Objects of trivia relating to Einstein, such as commercial calendars, posters, and postcards, T-shirts and other memorabilia, have become increasingly popular in recent years. These are collected by the Einstein Archives as evidence of Einstein's mythical status.

Conditions Governing Access

Part of family correspondence closed until July 2006 due to stipulation of donor.

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Copyright to material by Albert Einstein held by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Copyright to material by other correspondents held by them or by their heirs.

Copyright to photographic and film material held by The Hebrew University and various other institutions and individuals.

Finding Aids

Guide to the Albert Einstein Archives , compiled by the Einstein Archives, revised version 2002: Contains general administrative information on the Einstein Archives and archival information on the structure of the papers: division into sub-groups, series, sub-series and folder list.

Database to the Albert Einstein Archives , produced jointly by the Albert Einstein Archives and the Einstein Papers Project, 2003: This database provides the following information on each individual archival item: item number, date, title of manuscript, names and places of correspondents, cross-references to other items, publication information and length. Data can be retrieved according to item numbers, dates, titles of manuscripts, names and places of correspondents and publication information.

Database to the Einstein Archives Photograph Collection , compiled by the Einstein Archives, revised version 2002: This database encompasses the entire photograph collection of the Einstein Archives. The database provides the following data on each photograph in the collection: content, date, photographer, source, and copyright holder.

Existence and Location of Originals

In part, originals held by numerous repositories holding Einstein material around the world.

Existence and Location of Copies

Duplicate sets of bulk of the papers at: Princeton University Libraries; Boston University Library. Microfilm of bulk of the papers at: ETH Library, Zurich; Caltech Archives, Pasadena

Publication Note

The papers include most of the original drafts of Einstein’s own publications (books, articles, forewords, etc.). They constitute the most significant archival source material for the historical edition of Einstein’s writings and correspondence, The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein . The papers have been used as source material for numerous biographies, scholarly and non-scholarly articles, essays, films, TV programs, multimedia productions, etc.

Selected Search Terms

The Archival Database can be searched for any persons listed below by entering their name into a query - while omitting the associated dates.


Geographical Names

Folder List

A. Scientific Material

B. Non-Scientific Material