Thomas Stoltz Harvey

Thomas Stoltz Harvey

Ask a question about 'Thomas Stoltz Harvey'
Start a new discussion about 'Thomas Stoltz Harvey'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Thomas Stoltz Harvey was a pathologist who conducted the autopsy
An autopsy—also known as a post-mortem examination, necropsy , autopsia cadaverum, or obduction—is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present...

 on Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 in 1955. Harvey studied at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 as an undergraduate and later as a medical student under Dr. Harry Zimmerman. In his third year of medical school he contracted tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 and was bedridden for the next year in a sanatorium, claiming it to be one of the biggest disappointments of his life.

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- which immediately dispelled the concept that intelligence and brain size were directly related. Dr. Harvey sectioned the preserved brain into 170 pieces in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania
University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States,Penn is the fourth-oldest using the founding dates claimed by each institution...

, 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 the study was granted as long as the results were only published in scientific journals and not sensationalised.

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
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

. In 1988, Dr. Harvey retired and moved to Lawrence, Kansas
Lawrence, Kansas
Lawrence is the sixth largest city in the U.S. State of Kansas and the county seat of Douglas County. Located in northeastern Kansas, Lawrence is the anchor city of the Lawrence, Kansas, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Douglas County...

. In 1996, Harvey moved from Weston, Missouri
Weston, Missouri
Weston is a city in Platte County, Missouri, United States. The population was 1,631 at the 2000 census.-History:Lewis and Clark Expedition camped out near the location of today's city hall...

 to Titusville, New Jersey
Titusville, New Jersey
Titusville is an unincorporated area located within Hopewell Township, in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. The area includes a post office with its own ZIP code , a small village of homes, and a large park dedicated to George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River in...

. In 1994 documentary Relics: Einstein's Brain
Relics: Einstein's Brain
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.- Summary :...

, 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. In 1998, Harvey delivered the remaining uncut portion of Einstein's brain to Dr. Elliot Krauss, a pathologist at University Medical Center at Princeton
University Medical Center at Princeton
University Medical Center at Princeton is located at the borders of Princeton Borough and Princeton Township, New Jersey. It is located on Witherspoon Street. However, it is scheduled to move to a new location in Plainsboro, NJ in 2011. University Medical Center at Princeton is part of the...

. Certain parts of Einstein's brain were found to have a higher proportion of glial cells than the average male brain.

In 2005, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death, the 92-year-old Harvey was able to give interviews regarding the remarkable history of the brain from his home in New Jersey.


Harvey died at the University Medical Center at Princeton on April 5, 2007.


  • Michael Paterniti, Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America With Einstein's Brain (G K Hall & Co, December, 2000) (ISBN 0-7838-9298-5)
  • Carolyn Abraham, Possessing Genius: The Bizarre Odyssey of Einstein's Brain (St Martins Press, March, 2002) (ISBN 0-312-28117-X)

Media appearances

The story of Harvey's theft of Einstein's brain, and its subsequent study, was explored 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.

External links