A collection unlike others

During her 20 years at Harvard, Leslie Morris has led what any book lover might see as a charmed life. As the curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts at Houghton Library, she has befriended John Updike, corresponded with Gore Vidal, pored over cross-written letters by Jane Austen, and archived Emily Dickinson’s teacups. But about a year ago, during a three-day business trip to Europe, Morris experienced cultural astonishment on a new scale. She viewed a vast collection of boxes, drawers, shelves — whole rooms — full of eccentric treasures dating back to the 16th century, all expressions of a top cultural engine: altered states of mind. “I always explain it as sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll,” said Morris of the collection, now being unpacked, examined, described, and indexed at Harvard, a process known as accessioning. But the music collection and related artifacts went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland. Harvard, she said, “got the sex and drugs.”

via Harvard Gazette

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