Image: Einstein signature
Menahem Kahana  /  AFP - Getty Images
The signature of Albert Einstein is seen on a letter displayed with other documents during a news conference at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Monday.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/19/2012 2:56:12 PM ET 2012-03-19T18:56:12

All 80,000 items in Albert Einstein's archives, including personal correspondence with half a dozen lovers and a poignant postcard to his ailing mother, are going online.

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, which owns the Einstein collection, is slowly uploading high-resolution photographs of scientific papers, letters on social issues including nuclear disarmament and the Arab-Israeli conflict, and other texts.

Archivists said Monday's launch of the online repository will give scholars around the world direct access to Einstein's papers. Most have been locked in storage at the university, and only half of the collection appears online.

The university has also published a complete inventory of all 80,000 items in the Einstein collection.

Among the documents is a 1929 letter to Azmi El-Nashashibi in which Einstein suggests the establishment of a secret council, consisting of four Jews and four Arabs, that would meet weekly to thrash out Middle East problems.

"When decisions have been adopted to which at least three Jews and three Arabs agree, it can be decided to make them public, but the publication must be made in the name of the entire council," Einstein wrote. The idea wasn't implemented.

Einstein's postcard, sent to his mother in 1919, gives her the "happy news" that his general theory of relativity was confirmed by observations made during a solar eclipse, but also expresses dismay "that you not only have a lot of pain but that you also have morose thoughts."

"How much I wish I could keep you company again so you aren't left to such nasty musing," he wrote. His mother died of cancer months later.

The archive also offers a look at the wedding announcement sent out for Einstein's first marriage to Mileva Maric in 1903, the honorary doctoral degree he received from Princeton in 1921, and a travel diary he kept during a U.S. visit in 1930-1931.

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Eventually, the online archive will include personal correspondence between Einstein and his mistresses — including his cousin Elsa, who would later become his second wife; and Betty Neumann, a secretary who became his mistress while he was married to Elsa.

As papers are scanned, the bulk of them in Einstein's native German, the university will publish English translations and notes, said Hanoch Gutfreund, whose committee oversees the archive.

"This is going to be not only something to satisfy the curiosity of the curious," he said. "But it also will be a great education and research tool for academics."

For a sampling of the documents, check out the Einstein Archives Online database and a carousel of featured items.

This report includes information from The Associated Press, Reuters and msnbc.com.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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