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Einstein Papers Project at Caltech

Einstein Papers Project at Caltech


The Einstein Papers Project, the decades-long effort to compile and preserve the scientist’s professional work and personal writings, is today opening to the public as a free searchable database containing thousands of documents.

The launch of the Digital Einstein Papers includes more than 5,000 documents that span the first 44 years of Albert Einstein’s life. As the organizations collaborating on the project -- the California Institute of Technology (the project’s home), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (which houses the Albert Einstein Archives) and Princeton University Press -- work to sort through tens of thousands of articles and letters, the website will grow to one day feature what the publisher said may be the first free digital collection of a prominent scientist’s complete works.

“The best Einstein source is now available to everyone, everywhere through the web,” said John D. Norton, a University of Pittsburgh professor of history and philosophy of science who wrote his dissertation on the history of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “This is a great moment for Einstein scholarship.”

The collection goes beyond Einstein’s scholarly work. Seminal works such as “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies” are obviously included, but so are letters to family members, friends and contemporaries such as Niels Bohr, as well as academic recommendations, grant applications and nominations for prizes.

The quest to collect the documents began shortly after Einstein’s death in 1955, but it took another three decades before Princeton University Press published the first volume ofThe Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, in 1987. Thirteen total volumes and 27 years later, the collection has covered Einstein’s writings through March 1923. It is expected to reach at least 25 volumes.

New volumes will be added to the website about 18 months after print publication, the publisher said in Friday’s announcement.

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Einstein was astonishingly prolific. It would take someone YEARS to read all of this.