Einstein at Glasgow University

Einstein at the University, photograph from the John S. Allison collection (DC/399/2)

133 years ago today, in Ulm, Germany, Albert Einstein was born. To celebrate the Birthday of the great Theoretical Physicist, born on the 14th March 1879, we have had a look in our archives for memories of his visit to Glasgow University.  Einstein received an honorary degree from the University on the 21st of June 1933, having been unable to attend the ceremony the previous year. The Glasgow Herald at the time said:

“Glasgow to Honour Einstein:
The Senate of the University of Glasgow announces that in addition to the honorary degrees already intimated the honorary degree of LL.D. has been offered to Albert Einstein, Professor of Physics, Academy of Science, Berlin, … Professor Einstein, on account of his engagements, will be unable to be present this year, but he is making arrangements to attend the graduation in 1933.” (Source, The Glasgow Herald On-line)

The photograph above is from the John S. Allison collection which includes photographs and correspondence originally belonging to Allison and donated to the Archives by John McCaffrey, department of Scottish History. Here, a cheerful Einstein is joined in the quadrangle by other Honorary Graduates: the Rt.Hon. Sir Robert Stevenson Horne, Heriot, and Harry Lumsden.

Programme for the 1933 Honorary Graduation ceremony

We also found this letter (below) to a Mr. J. F. Dick of the Glasgow University Men’s Union. The letter is dated the 1stof October 1947 and has been sent from The Institute for Advanced Study, School of Mathematics, Princeton, New Jersey, from Albert Einstein.  In the letter Einstein declines to become ‘a candidate for such an important position in the British intel[l]ectual sphere’ and this refers to him  declining the suggestion to become a rectorial candidate.

DC94/6/14, letter and envelope (click to enlarge)



Special Collections at the University of Glasgow Library hold documents relating to Einstein also. They, in fact, have a copy of the Gibson Lecture Einstein gave at the University of Glasgow in which he talked about general relativity and the history of his own scientific work. This was the first Gibson Lecture, delivered on the 20th June 1933.

Happy Birthday Einstein!

Categories: Archive Services

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. Or even the British “intelectual” sphere!


  1. Reflections on a year in the Archive « University of Glasgow Library

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: