Want to See Albert Einstein's Wedding Invitation? Go Online, Young Physicist

Hebrew University's online archive will now feature 2,500 documents related to Einstein's scientific work and his public and private life.

A 1930 letter by Albert Einstein proposing that Jewish and Arab sages work together to find a solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict will now be available online, as part of a project to expand the digital version of the Einstein archives, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced yesterday.

The online archive will now feature 2,500 documents related to Einstein's scientific work and his public and private life, up from 900, said the university, which owns the archive.

Albert Einstein

In addition, the second half of the archive catalog is being digitized, bringing the number of items listed online to 80,000.

"Einstein placed the archives in our hands so we could share it with you," Hebrew University president Menahem Ben-Sasson said at a press conference yesterday. "Knowledge is a matter of openness." In addition to Einstein's letter on the Jewish-Arab conflict, which was sent to the editor of the Arab newspaper Falastin, other newly accessible documents include a postcard to his ill mother; a letter from a former lover, Betty Neumann, 15 years after their relationship ended; and an invitation to the wedding of Einstein and his first wife, Mileva.

The Einstein archive initially went online in 2003 with a catalog listing 43,000 of the documents the famed physicist bequeathed to the university. The digitization is funded by the London-based Polonsky Foundation.

Leonard Polonsky of the foundation, which also initiated the digitization of the Isaac Newton archives at Cambridge University, said the Newton papers had more than 23 million views within the first 24 hours of going online.

He said he expected the expanded online presence of the Einstein archive to attract similar interest.

Einstein archives - Emil Salman - March 2012
Emil Salman

But the archive's academic chairman said the Einstein project is unique.

"There are other similar cultural collections that have been put on the Internet in recent years, but this project is the broadest, with the most sophisticated technology, with digitization at the highest resolution," said former Hebrew University president Hanoch Gutfreud.