2. Historical Society of Princeton and Einstein Collection
Also within the Princeton Battlefield area is the headquarters of the Historical Society of Princeton on the property that was formerly the Updike Farm, with structures dating to the 18th and 19th centuries. The Historical Society holds over 35,000 historic photographs of Princeton and its people. The main house is used for exhibitions and offices and the 1892 barn is currently being renovated into a programming and event space.
One of the highlights of the Historical Society is the Einstein Collection, one of the “larger 3D collections of Einstein materials in the United States,” says Izzy Kazdin, the executive director of the Historical Society of Princeton. The collection includes 65 pieces of furniture that were in the scientist’s house at 112 Mercer Street in downtown Princeton, where he lived when employed by the Institute for Advanced Study, a notable post graduate institution in Princeton.
The exhibit traces Einstein’s escape from Nazi-occupied Germany, describing how the scientist’s furniture was smuggled out of his Berlin apartment via diplomatic shipment under a different name. Archival photographs show Einstein sitting and using the furniture. On display currently include a beloved chair, a music stand used by Einstein when practicing violin, a grandfather clock and a record player.
Kazdin tells us that Einstein seems to have assiduously followed instructions from a telegram from the head of the Institute of Advanced Study to “enter this country quietly and inconspicuously,” even after his arrival. Contemporary newspapers write of the quest to track down Einstein, who would slip out back doors and enter at unexpected times, during events in Princeton.