Albert Einstein was born Mar. 14, 1879. Einstein is probably the best-known 20th-century scientist in the world, and his name is a universally-understood epithet for “very smart person.” In 1905, he published revolutionary papers on Brownian motion, the photoelectric effect, and special relativity, all in the same volume of the Annalen der Physik (a volume we keep in the vault of our History of Science Collection). He followed these up ten years later with his paper on general relativity, also in the Annalen der Physik (and also in our vault). When his prediction that starlight would be bent by the sun’s gravitational field was verified in 1919, Einstein rose from obscurity to world fame almost overnight, and he has maintained that eminence ever since.

There are many well-known photographs of Einstein; today we show some less common images, three of which you will find in our Library. The first image is a photo of Einstein taken in his office in Berlin in 1920, when he was as the peak of his powers. The second shows a bronze bust by Sir Jacob Epstein; there are ten copies in the world, and this one sits in our History of Science Rare Book Room. The third is an original oil painting by Frank Szasz that was given to the Library. The fourth is another oil portrait, painted by Rich Liebermann in 1931, just before Einstein emigrated to the United States. These last two hang in the Reading Room of the History of Science Center at the Library.

Dr. William B. Ashworth, Jr., Consultant for the History of Science, Linda Hall Library and Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Missouri-Kansas City. Comments or corrections are welcome; please direct to