In July 1929, Albert Einstein (1879-1955) wrote an apologetic letter to a respected Bulgarian colleague who he hoped would get him out of “a very difficult position.” Physicist Georgi Manev (1884-1965), an assistant professor of theoretical physics at the Sofia University, had developed a gravitational theory that ran counter to Einstein’s theory of relativity. Einstein’s less-than-glowing assessment of Manev’s theory had complicated his colleague’s prospects for a full professorship at the University. Einstein was offering to help make the situation “good again.”
The typewritten letter, signed “A. Einstein,” has become a treatment project for Winterthur/University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation (WUDPAC) Fellow Yungjin Shin, who is specializing in library and archives. The letter belongs to Manev’s family, which includes great grand-daughter and 2018 WUDPAC graduate Mina Porell. Mina now works at the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. The letter was creased, partly from being folded, mailed, and tucked into a book for safekeeping during World War II. Mina asked that the creases be retained, so Yungjin’s goal was to remove adhesive tape without damaging the typed words on the paper.