From the Harvard Gazette:
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.”
The Santo Domingo collection is on long-term deposit at Harvard. “We do not own it,” said Morris, but the owners “want us to catalog it, and they want it available for research.”
The Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection is now the largest of its kind in the world, and will gradually be available to scholars of literature, fine art, photography, film, history, medicine, popular culture, and more. This is a range of disciplines that makes the collection uniquely rich even within Harvard’s enormously diverse collections. “Its size is really unprecedented,” said Morris.