In answer to the Uncertaintist‘s inquiries about its 2008 catalog translation of excerpts from the Einstein-Gutkind letter, a spokesman at Bloomsbury Auctions wrote, “I am afraid I don’t know who Joan Stambaugh is, we did not use her translation.” When asked to clarify this statement, the spokesman added, “It was translated by a member of staff in house.”
As has been reported previously, there are difficulties with a widely used translation, an abridged version of which ran in the Guardian newspaper in May 2008, after quotes from it appeared in reporting by the Guardian‘s James Randerson. The shorter excerpts which had been printed in the Bloomsbury auction catalog agreed with the Guardian translation verbatim.
The Guardian translation has often been reprinted and adapted in the years since, as has the Guardian‘s attribution of the translation to a woman named Joan Stambaugh. Bloomsbury had not named who translated the letter for them in the catalog listing for the lot.
The Guardian did not identify Joan Stambaugh except for her name, nor did it explain why it thought that was the name. There has been speculation that the attribution referred to Professor Joan Stambaugh, graduate of Vassar College in 1955, who had received professor emeritus status, that is, was retired, from the Philosophy Department of Hunter College in 2001. (Update: Professor Stambaugh died on July 7, 2013, age 81).