Altered States: Sex, Drugs, and Transcendence in the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library

September 5 – December 16, Edison and Newman Room

Altered States exhibitionThe search for something beyond the limits of ordinary experience—for transcendence—has preoccupied humanity for millennia. Religion, the occult, music, drugs: various paths have been taken in the hope of achieving it. In Altered States: Sex, Drugs, and Transcendence in the Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library, one collector’s quest to document the history of this search through rare books, manuscripts, photographs, posters, comics, and ephemera is celebrated.

Investment advisor Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr. (1957-2009) assembled the world’s largest private collection documenting psychoactive drugs and their physical and social effects. He was a man of restless intelligence, with a pronounced and often off-beat sense of humor, engaged by both high and popular culture. His collection, the Ludlow-Santo Domingo (LSD) Library, documents in depth the interrelated themes of drugs and sex over the past 400 years.

The exhibition, including some 120 objects drawn from the 50,000+ LSD Library items at Harvard, focuses on six of the many topics represented in the collection: opium, psychedelics, cocaine, marijuana, sex, and social protest. The items chosen represent different aspects of each topic: cultivation or synthesis, medical uses and legal constraints, and artistic and literary works, manifested in the rare and precious, the common and the ephemeral.

Highlights include illustrations of poppies in a 16th-century doctor’s manual; an album of delicate 19th-century Chinese paintings showing stages of opium production; self-portraits drawn under the influence of LSD; and posters from the Black Panthers and the May 1968 student protests in Paris. A selection of classic literature, including work by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincy, Charles Baudelaire, William S. Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg; and association copies such as Adolf Hitler’s annotated Kokain by Pitigrilli and Timothy Leary’s notes on Aleister Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend, rub shoulders with pulp fiction, and underground comics illustrated by R. Crumb and Trina Robbins. Medical works on therapeutic drug use, and true-life tales of crime and addiction, provide a sobering reminder of the danger of excess. Sex, another path towards transcendence, is explored through poet Pierre Louÿs’s sex diary; erotica by Guy de Maupassant, Pauline Réage and others; and the first X-rated comic, Barbarella.. Works on birth control, AIDS prevention, the Illustrated Presidential Report . . . on Obscenity and Pornography, and a female condom, show the individual and social consequences such exploration may provoke.

Curated by Leslie A. Morris, Curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts, Houghton Library, with assistance from Harvard Library colleagues.

Companion exhibition: Altered Gazes: Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll at Schlesinger Library (Oct. 2017-Jan. 2018), curated by Marylene Altieri, Curator of Printed Material

The Russian Revolution: Actors and Witnesses in Harvard Library Collections


September 6 – December 21, Amy Lowell Room

Russian RevolutionThe Russian Revolution has been called the most momentous event of the last century. To mark its centennial, Houghton Library presents an exhibit showcasing original documents from the period, assembled from its own holdings as well as those of other Harvard Library collections. Highlights include handwritten notes by Lenin, and photographs and manuscripts of journalist John Reed. Together, these striking artifacts tell the story of the Revolution's leaders, their opponents, the thousands of ordinary people they mobilized, and the American expatriates who witnessed these events first-hand.

Centenary of the Russian Revolution at Harvard

This exhibition is presented in collaboration with the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Slavic Division at Widener Library. It forms part of a number of commemorative events taking place across Harvard in the fall of 2017. For further details, visit the Davis Center’s website.

Guido Adler: Father of Musicology

September 11 – December 19, Chaucer Case

Guido AdlerThis fall sees Harvard launch a new curriculum for undergraduate music study. The small exhibit marks the beginning of the new era of the University’s music concentration by re-examining the origins of musicology--the study of sound as a scholarly pursuit--through the working papers of its founder Guido Adler (1855-1941). Acquired by the University in 2015 after a long passage from Austria to America, Adler’s papers not only reveal his method but are also a testament to a story of tragedy, atonement, and justice.

Guido Adler – Musicology Then and Now at Harvard University

The exhibit was co-sponsored by Houghton Library, Harvard University Department of Music and the Loeb Music Library. Learn more about Adler at the companion exhibit Guido Adler’s Library (October 13, 2017 – January 22, 2018), and attend a Boston Trio concert of music by Adler’s students and contemporaries (Friday, October 13, 2017, 8pm).


William Henry Fox Talbot and the Birth of Photography: Salted Paper Prints from the Harrison D. Horblit Collection

September 8 – October 14, Keats Room

Talbot photographThis exhibition presents a rare opportunity to see a dozen original photographs from the earliest days of photography on paper, as invented by William Henry Fox Talbot in late-1830s England and practiced by him and a circle of friends in the 1840s and 1850s. On display will be photographs by Talbot himself, including his landmark publication, The Pencil of Nature, and photographs by some of his earliest followers, Calvert R. Jones, John Dillwyn Llewelyn, and Nevil Story Maskelyne. Also included are early photographs of manuscripts and printed books in the collection of the famous British bibliophile Sir Thomas Phillipps. Prone to fading already in their day due to the experimental techniques used to create them, these light sensitive prints are on view for five weeks only.

View the exhibition with Hope Mayo, Philip Hofer Curator of Printing and Graphic Arts, on Tuesday, September 26, 12:30-1:00 pm, and Wednesday, October 11, 5:30-6:00 pm, and by appointment. For further details, email

Salted Paper Prints

This exhibition is presented in conjunction with the two-day symposium Salted Paper Prints: Process and Purpose: A Collaborative Workshop in Photograph Conservation (September 14 – 15, 2017). For further details and registration see the symposium website.

On the Rise: Theodore Roosevelt, the Spanish-American War, and American Imperialism

May 23, 2017 – June 1, 2018, Theodore Roosevelt Gallery

Theodore RooseveltThrough political cartoons from Houghton Library’s Theodore Roosevelt Collection, this exhibition examines the Spanish-American War and its role as the start of the United States as a world power. The exhibition was curated by Houghton Library 75th Anniversary Undergraduate Fellow and history concentrator Arthur Schott-Lopes ’19. It is free and open to the public.

The Theodore Roosevelt Gallery is located next door to Houghton in Lamont Library, Lower Level (enter through the West Door). For a wheelchair-accessible entrance, please use Lamont Library’s main door and take the elevator to level B.

© 2017 The President and Fellows of Harvard College