Einstein Becomes An American Citizen, 1940

Einstein Becomes An American Citizen

A photo by Al Aumuller from October 1, 1940 shows Albert Einstein becoming an American citizen.  Here’s the caption from the Library of Congress photo:

“Photograph shows Albert Einstein receiving from Judge Phillip Forman his certificate of American citizenship.”

Einstein was born in Germany but decided not to return to his native country during a trip to the United States in 1933, when he realized how powerful the Nazis were getting.  As a Jew, Einstein was not able to teach under new Nazi laws.  He returned to Europe and arrived in Belgium, renouncing his German citizenship.  He lived in Belgium and England before getting a university job at Princeton and permanently settling in the United States.

Even cooler, his Declaration of Intention form (from January 15, 1936) is also available online at the National Archives.  It lists his hair colour as grey, his eye colour as brown, his height as 5″7, and his weight as 175 pounds.  His photo and signature are at the bottom of the form.  It states that his wife, Elsa accompanied him, but that his two grown sons (from his first marriage) were living in Switzerland.  Elsa, unfortunately, died at the end of this year in December 1936.


Source: [Library of Congress] and [National Archives] and [Wikipedia]

This entry was posted in 20th Century, Cool Document, European History, Historical Photos, Modern History, Museum Artefact, U.S. History, World War Two and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Einstein Becomes An American Citizen, 1940

  1. itwasjudith says:

    love his pic on the form 🙂

  2. Interesting – looking at his form the Department of Labor looked after immigration and naturalization…is that still the case?

    • Good catch! 🙂 I’m not too sure…it’s handled today by Homeland Security and I think in the past it was handled by the INS. But somehow I’m thinking that Einstein’s immigration would have ‘sidestepped’ these traditional routes because it was employment-based. I don’t know the specifics about American rules but in many countries academics are able to apply for citizenship through different channels because of their education/potential employment.

  3. auntadadoom says:

    Gawwww. Lucky America.

  4. Gypsy Bev says:

    These connections to the past are very fascinating. Thanks for exploring historic people and events all over the world. The US was fortunate to have many German scientists arrive here during that time in history.

    • Thanks for the nice comment! 🙂 So true – in a conflict those with transferable skills usually find it easier to relocate when they find themselves kicked out of their land (as many Germans were post-WWII in the remapping of Europe). What I found interesting from some of the stuff I read was that Americans were less tolerant of Germans immigrants at the time of World War One rather than World War Two! An interesting paradox, since today I think more people know of the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust rather than the Great War.

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