Timothy Leary: A User's Manual


From the collection of Harvard University’s Houghton Library, a selection of psychedelic prayers by a countercultural legend, introduced by Houghton Library 2017 Fellow Jensen Davis.

Once described by President Richard Nixon as “the most dangerous man in America,” Timothy Leary (1920–1996) was a clinical psychologist and writer best known for his advocacy of the therapeutic effects of the hallucinogenic drugs LSD and psilocybin, based on his research at Harvard University in the late 1950s and early 1960s. After being dismissed from the Harvard faculty in 1963, Leary relocated to a 64-room mansion in Millbrook, New York, where he continued his work until the project was shut down after numerous FBI raids. In 1967, Leary moved to California, where for the next 30 years, he wrote, lectured, and developed “transhumanist” concepts involving space migration, intelligence increase, and life extension. Throughout his life, Leary published more than 20 books, including The Politics of Ecstasy (1960), The Psychedelic Experience (1964), and Flashbacks (1983).

Jensen Davis is an Associate Editor at Air Mail. She received her B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University. She was selected as a 2017 Houghton Library Fellow.