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Albert Einstein Archives Transferred to Hebrew University

The Albert Einstein Archives, containing 43,000 documents including much of the scientist’s correspondence and more than 30 unpublished scientific manuscripts, has been transferred to its ultimate home at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Scholars at the university will immediately begin work with the papers, said Prof. Reuven Yaron, who has overall charge of the archives.

Since Einstein’s death in 1955, the papers were housed at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princetom, N.J., where the scientist-spent the last years of his life. They were flown to Jerusalem a week ago. According to Yaron, the Hebrew University will undertake the preparation of a detailed catalogue of the contents of the archive which, he said, he hoped will be published by Princeton University Press.

The Princeton University Press is editing and publishing the Einstein papers, a project which is now a joint effort with the Hebrew University. The Hebrew University plans a full program involving the papers, considered by many to be one of the greatest scientific, cultural and historical collections extant. The archives will be housed in a special section of the Jewish National and University Library, located at the university’s Givat Ram camp us in Jerusalem.

“We will pursue a liberal policy of access to the papers, “Yaron said, adding that most work would be done from photocopies, while access to the original documents are also available at Princeton University.

The university, he said, will continue the progress of acquiring additional material for the archives, either copies or originals or original documents and in some cases will purchase the originals. Plans are also being made, he said, for a major Einstein exhibition in April, 1985, marking the 30th anniversary of Einstein’s death.

SOME OF THE DOCUMENTS INVOLVED

Einstein gave several important documents to the university during his lifetime, including the original manuscript of the 1916 article outlining his theory of general relativity.

The 43,000 documents which arrived in Jerusalem include scientific and non-scientific material, with the non-scientific items outnumbering the scientific by a margin of about three to two. The great majority of the material has never been published, including most of the correspondence.

Einstein corresponded with many of the world’s leading figures — fellow scientists, political leaders, philosophers. The archive’s scientific correspondence includes letters to and from such personalities as Niels Bohr, Max Planck and H. A. Lorentz.

The archives contain more than 30 unpublished scientific manuscripts, both complete and incomplete, as well as several notebooks from his student days in Zurich. An incomplete list of the world figures with whom Einstein corresponded and whose letters are found in the archives includes Sigmund Freud, Mohandas Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer, President Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt and George Bernard Shaw.

Among the historic documents in the archives is a copy of Einstein’s famous 1939 letter to President Roosevelt warning him of the military potential of atomic energy, as well as the original of Roosevelt’s answer, informing Einstein that he was convening a board to investigate the situation, a step which led to the Manhattan Project and the eventual development of the first atomic bomb.

Einstein identified closely with his Jewish heritage and was active on behalf of the Zionist movement. The archives include a large amount of correspondence with Chaim Weizmann. He was closely associated with the development of the Hebrew University and served on its Board of Governors for several years.

He was honorary president of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, and the archives contains correspondence reflecting his deep concern for the organization’s activity on behalf of the university in the United States.

AFFECTED BY PERSECUTION OF JEWS

Germany’s persecution of Jews in Europe deeply affected Einstein. One letter sent to Eleanor Roosevelt in July, 1941, pointed out the difficulties faced by Europeans trying to find a haven in the United States.

The letter told her of a “policy now being pursued in the State Department which makes it all but impossible to give refuge in America to many worthy persons who are the victims of fascist cruelty in Europe.” The archives contains her reply stating that she had brought the letter to the attention of her husband.

Yaron is a professor of Roman Law and ancient Near East Law. From 1967 to 1971, he served as dean of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and from 1973 to 1978 as director of the Jewish National and University Library, which serves as both the university’s main library and as a national repository similar to the Library of Congress.

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