Sixty years ago this month, Albert Einstein left this Earth. The prolific scientist’s impacts on how we perceive the universe are well known; Einstein’s funeral and cremation, however, are not.
Only LIFE photographer Ralph Morse was able to capture the events of that unfolded following the 76-year-old’s death to heart failure. However, almost all of these photos are collecting dust in LIFE archives, with Morse honoring the request of Einstein’s son to respect the family’s privacy while they mourned.
While most journalists and photographers had crowded around the Princeton Hospital where Einstein passed away, Morse ventured to Einstein’s office at the Institute for Advanced Studies. And then, because of course, Morse bought a case of scotch. Said Morse in a Time interview, “I knew people might be reluctant to talk, but most are happy to accept a bottle of booze, instead of money, in exchange for their help. So I get to the building, find the superintendent, give him a fifth of scotch and like that, he opens up the office.”
On Einstein’s desk we see his signature pipe and a nest of papers. Behind him, a mosaic of mathematical scribblings. It’s true; Einstein worked until the day that he died.