Albert Einstein’s digital archives: Pretty smart stuff

Nobel laureate Albert Einstein on the front steps of his Princeton home. Photo by Gillett Griffin.

You can now view online a rare manuscript of Albert Einstein‘s theory of relativity written in his own hand, as well as the Nobel laureate’s correspondence to and from other scientific luminaries and newsmakers of the day,
not to mention love letters to his mistress, whom he later married, and a missive from a 6-year-old girl who recommended the wild-haired theoretical physicist consider the relative merits of a haircut.

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem began digitizing its archives in 2003, and recently relaunched its website with a searchable catalogue of more than 80,000 documents and high-resolution digital images of 2,000 of Einstein’s notes, manuscripts and correspondence, both scientific and secular.

“His fame comes from his contribution to science,” says Hanoch Gutfreund, the academic head of the Einstein Archives in a phone interview before a visit to Princeton this week. “But having said that, one should emphasize that Einstein was an individual who, more than anybody else — scientist or nonscientist — expressed his views on whatever issue was on the agenda of mankind in the 20th century. He was political, he was outspoken, he had a rich public life.”

The website,, attracted more than 34 million hits and 925,000 unique visitors in its first month. It was relaunched with a grant from the Polonsky Foundation UK, which also funded the digitization of Sir Isaac Newton’s papers, and is an ongoing project between the Einstein Archives, the Einstein Papers Project at the California Institute of Technology and Princeton University Press.

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See also: Israeli Approves Plans for Einstein Museum near Hebrew University’s Albert Einstein Archives