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R. Gordon Wasson (1898-1986)


Series Descriptions:

1. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to General Mycological Research, 1945-1986, 1990; arranged alphabetically.

Contains correspondence and other papers on various topics relating primarily to Wasson's mycological research. Correspondents include Paul C. Blum, Stephan F. Borhegyi, Carlos Castaneda, Richard deMille, Robert Graves, Roger Heim, Albert Hofmann, Aldous Huxley, Roman Jakobson, Keewaydinoquay, Weston LaBarre, Donald B. Lawrence, Timothy Leary, Claude Levi-Strauss, Bernard Lowy, Georg Morgenstierne, Jonathan Ott, and Richard Evans Schultes. Included is correspondence with Jakobson (identified by Wasson as "Slavic Correspondence") relating to Wasson's efforts on behalf of Jakobson's scholarly and political activities. Also included is correspondence with various book shops through which Wasson made many of his book purchases, as well as correspondence with organizations and societies of which Wasson was either a member or a lecturer.

2. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to International Mycological Field Work, 1945-1986; arranged alphabetically.

Contains correspondence and other papers relating primarily to Wasson's mycological field work, as well as the field work of Wasson's contacts, in various Central American, European, and Asian cultures. Included under the India heading is correspondence with Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, a co-author with Wasson on the Soma monograph; and under the Mexico heading, correspondence primarily in the Spanish language with Irmgard Weitlaner-Johnson, Wasson's primary contact in Central America, 1953-1986. Other correspondents include: George M. Cowan, Rokuya Imazeki, Herlinda Martinez-Cid, Chiyo Omachi, and Gutierre Tibon. Also included with this series is Wasson's collection of Rumanian and Czechoslovakian mushroom stamps. Materials under the Siberia heading are primarily translations of articles.

3. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to Mycological and Etymological Investigations, 1936, 1945-1985; arranged alphabetically.

Contains correspondence and other papers, including clippings, gathered by RGW during the course of his mycological and etymological investigations. Correspondents include Sir Harold W. Bailey, John P. Hughes, and Stella Kramrisch. Included here is the correspondence on the soma theory and the history of caviar, a topic assigned to RGW by his wife for her Russian cookbook. The cookbook became the Wassons' monograph, Mushrooms Russia and History.

4. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to Publishing and Publishing Activities, 1950-1985; arranged alphabetically.

Contains correspondence relating to RGW's monograph publications and articles, permissions to quote and reproduce art work, and post-publication activities and reviews. Included is correspondence with Giovanni Mardersteig and Erwin Panofsky. The grouping of folders identified as "General correspondence" contains correspondence generated primarily by the publication of the article written by RGW for Life magazine (May 13, 1957), by the concurrent publication of the Wassons' monograph, Mushrooms Russia and History, and by the corresponding review article in Saturday Review. Also included in this series is correspondence relating to the publication of That Gettysburg Address, as well as correspondence with the United States Information Agency relating to the exhibition of Mushrooms Russia and History at the American National Book Exhibition in Moscow, August 1959.

5. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to General Interests, 1930-1931, 1942-1968; arranged alphabetically.

Contains correspondence and other papers relating primarily to RGW's literary and political interests outside of the field of mycology. Included is correspondence with Hope Emily Allen, editor, The Book of Margery Kemp, relating to RGW's efforts to publicize Allen's work in the United States; correspondence relating to RGW's interest in the birthplace and nature writings of W.H. Hudson; and correspondence with former United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union George F. Kennan, relating to his and RGW's efforts as trustees of the East European Fund, an organization established by the Ford Foundation to assist Soviet exiles. Other correspondents include: Jorge Casares, Edwin Way Teale, and A.F. Tschiffley.

6. Correspondence and Other Papers Relating to Gifts and Gift of the Wasson Library to Harvard University, 1960-1986; arranged alphabetically.

Contains correspondence with Harvard University relating to financial gifts, the establishment of the Wasson Library, and all the items included in the Library.

7. Monograph Drafts, Proofs, and Typescripts, n.d.; arranged alphabetically.

Contains pre-publication materials of three of RGW's monographs: Mushrooms Russia and History, Soma, and The Wondrous Mushroom.

8. Translations of Printed and Audio Materials, 1958-1971; arranged alphabetically.

Contains translations used by RGW in his research and published monographs and articles.

9. Pocket Diaries and Field Notebooks, 1949-1983; arranged chronologically.

Contains pocket diaries and field notebooks in which RGW recorded travel notes, mushroom ceremonies, and mycological investigations during his field trips.

10. Research Bibliographies, n.d.; arranged alphabetically.

Contains note cards relating to the bibliographies compiled by RGW.

11. Artifacts.

Contains primarily non-print items. This series provides detailed descriptions, as recorded for RGW by Christopher Brown, September 1985, and re-inventoried by Ying Brach, October 1993, of the artifacts contained in the Wasson Collection. From pre-classic and early classic mushroom stones, to Ching dynasty snuff bottles, to wooden and ivory netsukes depicting mushrooms, the artifacts document RGW's scholarly interest in the appearance of mushrooms in the folk art of many cultures. The artifacts housed in the display cases carry identifying numbers.

12. Miscellaneous Materials.

Contains original artwork, reproductions, specimens, photographs, mounted exhibition prints, slides, illustrations, maps, charts, artifacts, and two codex volumes relating to various of RGW's monograph publications, exhibitions, and his scholarly interest in how mushrooms are depicted in folk and contemporary art.

N.B.: According to Wasson's request, five copies of a book on the subject of mushrooms were placed at Harvard's Houghton Library, restricted until the year 2020.

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
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