These and the many unpublished manuscripts and letters from prison provide a rich source for research, said William Stingone, the library’s curator of manuscript and archives.
John McWhinnie, a rare-book dealer who appraised the archive for the Leary estate, said in his report that the archive “details a program into psychedelic research that was akin to (Alfred) Kinsey’s research into human sexuality.”
The archive embraces the lives and thoughts of all the players associated with the scientific and popular movement of LSD and drug counterculture, said McWhinnie, who died last year.
McWhinnie was an associate of bookseller Glenn Horowitz, who eventually brokered the sale of the archive to the Public Library.
Among the collection’s many photographs is one of Leary standing at a chalkboard in the 1950s giving a lecture on his first book, “Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality.” The book marked his reputation in the field of clinical psychology before he went to Harvard to begin his research with psychedelic drugs.
Among other things, it contains some 1,000 floppy discs that deal with Leary’s intense interest in cyberculture and the development of computer software for his self-help games.
For now, the library has no plans to make the archive available online.