Hebrew U Launches Expanded Einstein Archives Website

March 19, 2012  

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem held a press conference on Monday to launch the updated and expanded Einstein Archives website, which contains a complete catalog of more than 80,000 documents in the University’s Einstein Archives.

The archive includes more than 40,000 documents contained in Albert Einstein’s personal papers and over 30,000 additional Einstein and Einstein-related documents discovered, since the 1980s, by the Einstein Archives staff and the editors of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein.

The launch was simultaneously marked at Princeton University Press (PUP) and the Einstein Papers Project (EPP) at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which have collaborated with the Hebrew University in a long-term project to publish The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, one of the most ambitious publishing ventures ever undertaken in the documentation of the history of science. Thanks to the these two institutions’ ongoing participation, the enhanced website makes it possible to link each document to its printed and annotated version as it appears in the “Collected Papers,” and to its English translation,(since most of Einstein’s papers were originally written in German). The website’s launch was simultaneously marked by the Hebrew University’s Friends organizations and Israeli embassies around the world.

Albert Einstein was a founder of the Hebrew University and one of its most loyal supporters. In his will he bequeathed all of his writings and intellectual heritage to the Hebrew University, including the rights to the use of his image.

The newly launched digitization project is funded by the Polonsky Foundation UK. Through his foundation, Dr. Leonard Polonsky has initiated similar enterprises, such as the digitization of the writings of Sir Isaac Newton at the University of Cambridge, which attracted 29 million hits within the first 24 hours after its launch.

The previous site, which was launched in 2003 in conjunction with EPP and PUP, has until now presented 43,000 records of documents and 900 manuscripts in Einstein’s own hand, whose digitization was made possible by a generous contribution from the David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation in Los Angeles, California.

The expanded site will initially feature a visual display of about 2,000 selected documents amounting to 7,000 pages related to Einstein’s scientific work, public activities and private life up to the year 1921. Advanced search technology will enable the display of all related documents by subject, and, in the case of letters, by author and recipient.

According to Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, former president of the Hebrew University and the academic head of the Einstein Archive, “The renewed site is another expression of the Hebrew University’s intent to share with the entire cultural world this vast intellectual property which has been deposited into its hand by Einstein himself.”

The press conference took place at the Hebrew University’s Edmond J. Safra Campus in Givat Ram. Participants were able to navigate through Einstein’s world and see documents that were not previously accessible to the general public. Participants also toured the Einstein Archive, which holds Einstein’s fully-catalogued private, non-scientific library.

With books on philosophy, classical German literature and Judaism, the library reveals the intellectual world of Einstein as a young Jew in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.

To view the Einstein Archives, visit www.alberteinstein.info

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