Americans and Mushrooms in a Naturalistic Environment: A Preliminary Report.
Cambridge: Harvard University Center for Research in Personality, 1962.
4to. 10-page document mimeographed in purple ink, signed by Timothy Leary at top of first page, stapled at top left corner. First and only printing of this paper limited to "not more than 100 copies" for distribution by the authors. The earliest known report on the groundbreaking research into magic mushrooms by Leary and the Harvard Psilocybin Project, an important precursor to the Psychedelic Revolution that began a few years later. When a 1957 issue of Life magazine published Gordon Wasson's account of the mind-altering properties of the magic mushrooms he discovered in Mexico it piqued Leary's interest. Shortly after he was hired by Harvard in 1959 to conduct doctoral research in the Psychology Department's Center for Research in Personality Leary went to Mexico and tried the mushrooms firsthand. Upon his return he and Richard Alpert established the Harvard Psilocybin Project, the first research where the drug was given in "comfortable home-like surroundings" rather than a clinical setting, often with Leary and Alpert taking the drug along with the students. The majority of the participants reported "pleasant, educational, and even life-changing experiences," and Leary's mushroom experiments went on to include Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Huxley, Watts, and many other artists and musicians (before Leary was expelled from the university). The beginning of the worldwide cultural change brought about by the Psychedelic Revolution and the burgeoning hippie subculture can be traced to this paper. Published a couple of years before the Acid Tests and before Leary's experimentation with LSD (a drug that would remain legal for another four years). Fine. Very rare, the only copy we've encountered and OCLC turns up just one copy, appropriately enough, at Harvard University.