Thomas Stoltz Harvey

Last updated
Thomas Stoltz Harvey
BornOctober 10, 1912
DiedApril 5, 2007 (aged 94)
Known forConducting the autopsy of Albert Einstein's brain, saving and storing it
Scientific career
Fields Pathology

Thomas Stoltz Harvey (October 10, 1912 – April 5, 2007) was a pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Albert Einstein in 1955. Harvey later kept Einstein's brain without permission for decades.

Autopsy surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse

An autopsy is a surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse by dissection to determine the cause, mode and manner of death or to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present for research or educational purposes.. Autopsies are usually performed by a specialized medical doctor called a pathologist. In most cases, a medical examiner or coroner can determine cause of death and only a small portion of deaths require an autopsy.

Albert Einstein German-born physicist and developer of the theory of relativity

Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. His work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He is best known to the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula , which has been dubbed "the world's most famous equation". He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", a pivotal step in the development of quantum theory.


Early career

Harvey studied at Yale University as an undergraduate and later as a medical student under Dr. Harry Zimmerman. In his third year of medical school he contracted tuberculosis and was bedridden for the next year in a sanatorium, claiming it to be one of the biggest disappointments of his life. [1]

Yale University Private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Yale consistently ranks among the top universities in the world.

Tuberculosis Infectious disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. Most infections do not have symptoms, in which case it is known as latent tuberculosis. About 10% of latent infections progress to active disease which, if left untreated, kills about half of those affected. The classic symptoms of active TB are a chronic cough with blood-containing mucus, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. It was historically called "consumption" due to the weight loss. Infection of other organs can cause a wide range of symptoms.

Autopsy of Albert Einstein

The autopsy was conducted at Princeton Hospital, Princeton NJ, on April 18 at 8:00 am. Einstein's brain weighed 1,230 grams - well within the normal human range. Dr. Harvey sectioned the preserved brain into 170 pieces [2] in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, a process that took three full months to complete. Those 170 sections were then sliced in microscopic slivers and mounted onto slides and stained. There were 12 sets of slides created with hundreds of slides in each set. Harvey retained two complete sets for his own research and distributed the rest to handpicked leading pathologists of the time. No permission for the removal and preservation had been given by Einstein or his family, but when the family learned about the study, permission to proceed with the study was granted as long as the results were only published in scientific journals and not sensationalised. [3]

University of Pennsylvania Private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

Theft of Einstein's brain

In August, 1978, New Jersey Monthly reporter Steven Levy published an article, "I Found Einstein's Brain", based on his interview with Dr. Harvey when he was living in Wichita, Kansas. In 1988, Dr. Harvey retired and moved to Lawrence, Kansas. In 1996, Harvey moved from Weston, Missouri to Titusville in Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey. [4] In the 1994 documentary Relics: Einstein's Brain , Kinki University Professor Sugimoto Kenji asks Harvey for a piece of the brain, to which Harvey consents and slices a portion of the brain-stem. Footage shows Harvey segmenting and handing over to Sugimoto a portion. [5] In 1998, Harvey delivered the remaining uncut portion of Einstein's brain to Dr. Elliot Krauss, a pathologist at University Medical Center at Princeton. As Marian Diamond and associates discovered, certain parts of Einstein's brain were found to have a higher proportion of glial cells than the average male brain. [6]

Wichita, Kansas City and county seat in Kansas, United States

Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas and the county seat of Sedgwick County. As of 2018, the estimated population of the city was 389,255. Wichita is the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area which had an estimated population of 644,888 in 2018.

Lawrence, Kansas City and County seat in Kansas, United States

Lawrence is the county seat of Douglas County and sixth-largest city in Kansas. It is located in the northeastern sector of the state, astride Interstate 70, between the Kansas and Wakarusa Rivers. As of the 2010 census, the city's population was 87,643; though by 2017 the population rose to 96,892. Lawrence is a college town and the home to both the University of Kansas and Haskell Indian Nations University.

Weston, Missouri City in Missouri, United States

Weston is a city in Platte County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,641 at the 2010 census.

In 2005, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death, the 92-year-old Harvey gave interviews regarding the history of the brain from his home in New Jersey. [7]

Harvey died at the University Medical Center at Princeton on April 5, 2007.[ citation needed ]


In 2010, Harvey's heirs transferred all of his holdings constituting the remains of Albert Einstein's brain to the National Museum of Health and Medicine, including 14 photographs of the whole brain (which is now in fragments) never before revealed to the public. [8] [9]

Cultural references

The story of Harvey's theft of Einstein's brain, and its subsequent study, was exploited in an episode of the Science Channel show Dark Matters: Twisted But True , a series which explores the darker side of scientific discovery and experimentation, which premiered on September 7, 2011. "The Secrets of Einstein's Brain" aired on the History Channel on June 4, 2016. [10]

Related Research Articles

Forensic pathology sub-specialty of pathology that focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a corpse

Forensic pathology is pathology that focuses on determining the cause of death by examining a corpse. A post mortem is performed by a medical examiner, usually during the investigation of criminal law cases and civil law cases in some jurisdictions. Coroners and medical examiners are also frequently asked to confirm the identity of a corpse. Also see forensic medicine.

Hopewell Township, Mercer County, New Jersey Township in New Jersey, United States

Hopewell Township is a township in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. The township is within the New York metropolitan area as defined by the United States Census Bureau, but directly borders the Philadelphia metropolitan area and is part of the Federal Communications Commission's Philadelphia Designated Market Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 17,304, reflecting an increase of 1,199 (+7.4%) from the 16,105 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 4,515 (+39.0%) from the 11,590 counted in the 1990 Census.

Harvey Cushing American neurosurgeon

Harvey Williams Cushing was an American neurosurgeon, pathologist, writer and draftsman. A pioneer of brain surgery, he was the first exclusive neurosurgeon and the first person to describe Cushing's disease. He wrote a biography of William Osler in three volumes. Together with Ernest Sachs, he is known as the Father of Neurosurgery.

Hans Albert Einstein was a Swiss-American engineer and educator, the second child and first son of Albert Einstein and Mileva Marić. Hans A. Einstein was a long-time professor of Hydraulic Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Albert Einsteins brain the preserved brain of scientist Albert Einstein

The brain of Albert Einstein has been a subject of much research and speculation. Einstein's brain was removed within seven and a half hours of his death. The brain has attracted attention because of Einstein's reputation as one of the foremost geniuses of the 20th century, and apparent regularities or irregularities in the brain have been used to support various ideas about correlations in neuroanatomy with general or mathematical intelligence. Scientific studies have suggested that regions involved in speech and language are smaller, while regions involved with numerical and spatial processing are larger. Other studies have suggested an increased number of glial cells in Einstein's brain.

Operculum (brain) cover the insula as the opercula of insula

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Einstein's Brain is a 1994 documentary by Kevin Hull following Japanese professor Kenji Sugimoto in his search for Albert Einstein's brain. It is produced by BBC Films.

Helen Dukas was Albert Einstein's secretary. She also co-authored Albert Einstein: Creator and Rebel and co-edited Albert Einstein: The Human Side with Dr. Banesh Hoffmann. Dukas was one of two trustees chosen by Einstein, according to his Last Will and Testament, to hold the literary rights to all of his manuscripts, copyrights, publication rights, royalties, and royalty agreements. The other trustee was the economist Dr. Otto Nathan. In short, Dukas and Dr. Nathan were the "executors of his literary heritage." They collaborated on the compilation of The Collected Papers of Albert Einstein, using documents that were subsequently donated to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Albert Einstein in popular culture overview about Albert Einstein in popular culture

Albert Einstein has been the subject of, or inspiration for, many works of popular culture.

Albert Einstein House United States national historic site

The Albert Einstein House at 112 Mercer Street in Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey, United States was the home of Albert Einstein from 1935 until his death in 1955. His wife Elsa Einstein died in 1936 while living in this house.

Thomas Harvey may refer to:

Political views of Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein was widely known during his lifetime for his work with the theory of relativity and physics in general. He was also an important peace activist, a believer in a very limited form of world government and a socialist. His political opinions were of public interest through the middle of the 20th century due to his fame and involvement in political, humanitarian and academic projects around the world. He was often called upon to give judgments and opinions on matters often unrelated to theoretical physics or mathematics. Einstein's visible position in society allowed him to speak and write frankly, even provocatively, at a time when many people were silenced due to the rise of the Nazi movement.

Yehuda Hiss is a retired Israeli pathologist. He served as the Chief Pathologist at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine between 1988 and possibly as late as 2005. Hiss has also served as part of the faculty for the Terrorism and Medicine Program at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at IDC Herzliya and in the Department of Pathology for the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

Evelyn Einstein was the adopted daughter of Hans Albert Einstein, the son of Albert Einstein. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley with a Master's degree in Literature, and had several jobs in her life including animal control officer, cult deprogrammer, and reserve police officer in Berkeley, California.

Rudolph Nissen German physician

Rudolph Nissen was a surgeon who chaired surgery departments in Turkey, the United States and Switzerland. The Nissen fundoplication, a surgical procedure for the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, is named after him. Nissen completed the first pneumonectomy by a Western physician in 1931. In 1948, he performed an abdominal surgery that extended the life of Albert Einstein by several years. He trained under German physicians Ludwig Aschoff and Ferdinand Sauerbruch.

Marian Diamond American professor of human anatomy and neuroanatomy

Marian Diamond was a pioneering scientist and educator who is considered one of the founders of modern neuroscience. She and her team were the first to publish evidence that the brain can change with experience and improve with enrichment, what is now called neuroplasticity. Her research on the brain of Albert Einstein helped fuel the ongoing scientific revolution in understanding the roles of glial cells in the brain. Her YouTube Integrative Biology lectures were the second most popular college course in the world in 2010. She was a professor of anatomy at the University of California, Berkeley. Other published research explored differences between the cerebral cortex of male and female rats, the link between positive thinking and immune health, and the role of women in science.

Michael Paterniti is an American writer known for magazine articles in publications such as Harper's, the New Yorker, GQ, and Esquire, as well as his book The Telling Room (2013).

Sandra Freedman Witelson is a Canadian neuroscientist best known for her analysis of specimens from Albert Einstein's brain, as well as exploring anatomic and functional differences regarding male and female brains, handedness, and sexual orientation. She and her colleagues maintain the world's largest collection of "cognitively normal" brains at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.


  1. Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain, Dial Press, 2001
  2. Andrews, Lori B.; Nelkin, Dorothy (2001). Body bazaar: the market for human tissue in the biotechnology age. Crown Publishers. p. 9. ISBN   978-0-609-60540-0.
  3. Sperlin, Daniel (2008). Posthumous interests: legal and ethical perspectives. Cambridge University Press. p. 144. ISBN   978-0-521-87784-8., Chapter 4, p. 144
  4. Staff. "Doctor Kept Genius's Brain in a Jar 43 Years", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , April 17, 2005. Accessed December 3, 2012. "He's 93, living in a small New Jersey town called Titusville."
  5. "Relics: Einstein's Brain (1994)". 2006-08-03. Retrieved 2010-06-16.
  6. Diamond MC, Scheibel AB, Murphy GM Jr, Harvey T,"On the Brain of a Scientist: Albert Einstein","Experimental Neurology 1985;198-204", Retrieved February 18, 2017
  7. The Long, Strange Journey of Einstein's Brain.
  8. Falk, Dean, Frederick E. Lepore, and Adrianne Noe (2012), "The cerebral cortex of Albert Einstein: a description and preliminary analysis of unpublished photographs", Brain ; 135: 11.
  9. Balter, Michael, "Rare photos show that Einstein's brain has unusual features", The Washington Post , Tuesday, 27 November 2012; E6.
  10. "I Have Einstein's Brain, Unidentified Flying Nazis, Killer Thoughts". Dark Matters: Twisted But True. September 7, 2011. Science Channel.

Further reading