Sex and Drugs Come to Harvard


Book aficionados, counter-culture lovers, and scholars rejoice: Harvard has recently acquired a massive collection of books, posters, film reels, letters, and other sex and drug related ephemera. Leslie Morris, curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts at Harvard's Houghton Library, discovered the collection during a trip to Europe last year, and is now part of the team at Harvard working to unpack and catalogue it.

It is no small task: the collection, the largest of its kind in the world, has an estimated 30,000 books and 25,000 posters, photographs, and other ephemera.

The collection was originally assembled by Colombian businessman Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr. when he had the foresight to combine the collections of Gerard Nordmann, an aficionado of erotica, and the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library's collection containing 10,000 items related to psychoactive drugs. 

This collection is unique because it will be able to serve scholars in a wide range of disciplines. Within the Harvard library, the collection will be dispersed to libraries with specialties such as medicine, art, film, poetry, and rare books, among others. According to Morris, the collection even includes "three shelves of cookbooks on how to make hash brownies and other hallucinogenic foods." 

Some more kitschy items include law enforcement patches, a large box of rolling papers in bright packets, and a game called "Stoner Trivia. 

It's enough to make Timothy Leary, a one-time Harvard faculty member who was fired for psychedelic transgressions, almost proud of his former employer.


Image by Paul Lowry, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.