Albert Einstein (1879–1955)

Professor of theoretical physics

Albert Einstein was born in Ulm, Germany, on 14 March 1879 and grew up in Munich. When his parents moved to Italy, he initially remained in Munich before eventually joining them. After failing an entry examination for the Polytechnic in Zurich in 1895, he completed his schooling at Aargau Cantonal School in Aarau and passed the Swiss Matura.

Graduation at the Federal Polytechnic School

From 1896 to 1900 he studied at the Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich, obtaining a teaching diploma in mathematics and science. After graduating, he initially struggled as a private tutor until he was appointed as an expert, class III, at the Patent Office in Berne in 1902.


In 1905 he published his celebrated paper on the special theory of relativity along with four other key articles.   

Years as Professor and theory of relativity

He was an associate professor at the University of Zurich from 1909, a professor at the Karl-Ferdinand University in Prague from 1911 and taught at ETH Zurich as a professor of theoretical physics from 1912 to 1914. In Berlin, where he held a professorship from 1914, which relieved him of all teaching duties, he made his breakthrough in the general theory of relativity in 1915. In 1921 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on the photoelectric effect back in 1905. When the Nazis seized power in Germany in 1933 and put a bounty on his head, he emigrated to Princeton (New Jersey, USA). At the Institute for Advanced Study, he continued with the generalisation of the theory of gravitation, which he had been working on constantly since 1916.       

Albert Einstein died in Princeton on 18 April 1955 after a brief illness.


Einsteins Handschrift

Hs 91:557 (Letter from Albert Einstein to Hermann Weyl)


All the original documents by Albert Einstein stored in the ETH Zurich University Archives can be accessed electronically in Einstein Online. Physically, the files are spread among various holdings. The Einstein collection donated by Einstein biographer Carl Seelig, the index (external link) of which can be accessed online, is particularly extensive.