Add this to the Burroughs, Kerouac, and Terry Southern archives that the NYPL already possesses.
When the Harvard psychologist and psychedelic explorer Timothy Leary first met the Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in 1960, he welcomed Ginsberg's participation in the drug experiments he was conducting at the university.
"The first time I took psilocybin - 10 pills - was in the fireside social setting in Cambridge," Ginsberg wrote in a blow-by-blow description of his experience taking synthesized hallucinogenic mushrooms at Leary's stately home. At one point Ginsberg, naked and nauseated, began to feel scared, but then "Professor Leary came into my room, looked in my eyes and said I was a great man."
Ginsberg's "session record," composed for Leary's research, was in one of the 335 boxes of papers, videotapes, photographs and more that the New York Public Library is planning to announce that it has purchased from the Leary estate. The material documents the evolution of the tweedy middle-aged academic into a drug guru, international outlaw, gubernatorial candidate, computer software designer and progenitor of the Me Decade's self-absorbed interest in self-help.
The archive will not be available to the public or scholars for 18 to 24 months, as the library organizes the papers. A preview of the collection, however, reveals a rich record not only of Leary's tumultuous life but also of the lives of many significant cultural figures in the '60, '70s and '80s.
Robert Greenfield, who combed through the archive when it was kept in California, for his 2007 biography of Leary, said: "It is a unique firsthand archive of the 1960s. Leary was at the epicenter of what was going on back then, and some of the stuff in there is extraordinary."
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