Princeton University Press releases digital editions of Einstein’s papers| Dec 11, 2014
The Princeton University Press recently released digital editions of thousands of crucial papers by Albert Einstein that span the first 44 years of his life, director of the press Peter Dougherty said.
He explained that the approximately 5,000 documents include crucial scientific papers, as well as professional, personal and administrative correspondence.
There are currently 13 print volumes, with a 14th volume scheduled to be published in January, Dougherty said, adding that many of the volumes published over the last 30 years are in their original German script.
“All these documents are now available on a digital platform, accessible globally by anyone with Internet,” Dougherty said.
He said that although there are already 14 published print editions of Einstein’s papers, science researchers all over the world who need Einstein’s works cannot access any of the print editions due to location. The aim of last week’s digital release, Dougherty said, was to make the collected papers available to researchers, historians of science, physicists and anyone else who might need access to them.
Having both digital and print versions of the same papers will allow researchers to go back and forth between the published version and the original documents, and easily navigate the two sources, Dougherty said.
“It’s just a wonderfully robust and convenient resource for researchers,” he added.
The reason that all these documents have only now been digitally released, Dougherty said, was that the necessary technology was not available until recently. Ten years ago, he said, any digital release, if there was one, would have looked very different. Now, Dougherty noted, many people have complimented the quality of presentation of the digital papers, as well as the efficiency of navigating the database.
He added that the volumes, which include edited versions, reflect all aspects of Einstein’s scientific work and correspondence.
“Einstein was a many-faceted person," Dougherty said."He was a great scientist, but he was also a pacifist, a citizen of the world and a colleague to his fellow scientists.”
Diana Kormos-Buchwald, the director and general editor of the Einstein Papers Project and a professor of history at the California Institute of Technology, explained that this project has been very long in the making, beginning around the time of Einstein’s death.
Einstein’s secretary served as the creditor of his literary estate, and after his death, reached an agreement with the University Press that it would publish Einstein’s collected papers.
Kormos-Buchwald noted that the realization of this project took several decades.
Dougherty noted Kormos-Buchwald’s role in the general publishing process, explaining that she currently leads a team of editors to collect papers from archives and people all around the world and then organizes them according to chronological periods in Einstein’s life.
John Norton, a member of the advisory board for the Einstein Papers Project, said that the digital release of the documents will be a tremendous boon to future research on Einstein. He added that the edited Einstein volumes are a crucial resource for anyone interested in doing serious Einstein scholarship and digitalizing these resources will greatly help many researchers.
Norton has also been a contributing editor to several Einstein volumes and currently teaches in the history and philosophy of science department at the University of Pittsburgh.