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R. Gordon Wasson (1898-1986)


Scope and Content Note:

The Wasson Papers (over 27.5 linear feet) contain correspondence (original and carbon copies), notes, memoranda, lists, notebooks, diaries, translations, drafts, typescripts, proofs, illustrations, maps, charts, stamps, artifacts, original art work, film, audio tapes, video tapes, photographs, negatives, slides, and mounted exhibit materials relating to Tina and Gordon Wassons' ethnomycological research as well as to RGW's literary and political interests. There is no family correspondence, banking correspondence, or correspondence with Thomas Riedlinger, editor of the RGW festschrift, The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: Essays for R. Gordon Wasson (1990). Although a few letters are dated prior to 1945, including copies of notes written by RGW in 1908, the bulk of the Wasson Papers range from 1945 to 1986. The Papers contain approximately 20,300 letters, 800 photographs, 3,300 slides, 200 artifacts, and over 2,800 items (papers, notes, lists, clippings, illustrations, maps, charts, etc.). There are twelve series:

1. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to General Mycological Research, 1945-1986, 1990
2. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to International Mycological Field Work, 1945-1986
3. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to Mycological and Etymological Investigations, 1936, 1945-1985
4. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to Publishing and Publishing Activities, 1950-1985
5. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to General Interests, 1930-1931, 1942-1968
6. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to Gifts and Gift of the Wasson Library to Harvard University, 1960-1986
7. Monograph Drafts, Proofs and Typescripts, n.d.
8. Translations of Printed and Audio Materials, 1958-1971
9. Pocket Diaries & Field Notebooks, 1949-1983
10. Research Bibliographies, n.d.; 0.5 linear feet.
11. Artifacts, of varied dates and sizes.
12. Miscellaneous Materials, of varied dates and sizes.

99% of the foldered material remains labelled and organized in the order which Wasson established and maintained. Correspondents represented in one series may also be included in other series. Additionally, not all correspondents are identified in folders otherwise labelled (i.e. "Bulgarian 1968-1970; 20 letters, 4 items" contains correspondence with Professors Ivan Sechanov and Bernard Lowy). In the correspondence folders, the materials are divided into three groups: carbon copies of letters written by RGW (in chronological order); letters sent to RGW (in chronological order); and letters and/or other papers that appear to have been inserted between the first two groups at a later date, perhaps in readiness for their transfer to the Harvard University Botanical Museum. No attempt was made to interfile the three groupings.

Principal correspondents include:

Hope Emily Allen, 1941-1953; 243 letters
Paul C. Blum, 1957-1986; 141 letters
Stephan F. Borhegyi, 1953-1978; 480 letters
George M. Cowan, 1953-1984; 153 letters
Robert Graves, 1949-1984; 474 letters
Roger Heim, 1949-1981; 844 letters
Albert Hofmann, 1962-1983; 200 letters
John P. Hughes, 1945-1948; 197 letters
Roman Jakobson, 1946-1983; 271 letters
Keewaydinoquay, 1975-1984; 232 letters
George F. Kennan, 1947-1962; 150 letters
Weston LaBarre, 1953-1985; 153 letters
Donald B. Lawrence, 1969-1979; 153 letters
Claude Levi-Strauss, 1958-1983; 129 letters
Giovanni Mardersteig, 1950-1981; 1,039 letters
Georg Morgenstierne, 1952-1982; 159 letters
Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, 1961-1984; 304 letters
Chiyo Omachi, 1951-1982; 131 letters
Jonathan Ott, 1974-1985; 315 letters
Richard Evans Schultes, 1952-1984; 652 letters
Gutierre Tibon, 1957-1980, 1986; 195 letters
Irmgard Weitlaner-Johnson, 1953-1986; 848 letters

Other correspondents include: Sir Harold W. Bailey, Jorge Casares, Carlos Castaneda, Richard deMille, Abraham Flexner, Aldous Huxley, Rokuya Imazeki, Stella Kramrisch, Timothy Leary, Bernard Lowy, Herlinda Martinez-Cid, Erwin Panofsky, Edwin Way Teale, and A.F. Tschiffley.

Researchers may consult materials from the archives only by appointment or written request. Send inquiries to botref@oeb.harvard.edu. Please allow 2-3 business days for the processing of written and e-mailed requests.

Biographical Notes
Series Description
Container List

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