We're moving!

Our new website is coming on June 28, 2018.
Preview the site now

You can also continue to the old site.

Modern Books & Manuscripts Collection

The Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library


(Photographer unknown). Pamela des Barres. Not dated.

(Photographer unknown). Pamela des Barres. Not dated.

The Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library, the world’s largest private collection of material documenting altered states of mind, has been placed on long-term deposit with Harvard University. Including rare books, manuscripts, posters, photographs, audio material, and popular and underground cultural ephemera of all kinds, the 50,000+ item collection will support teaching and research in many fields across the University.

The collection documents psychoactive drugs and their physical and social effects, from cultivation and synthesis to the myriad cultural and counter-cultural products such altered states of mind have inspired and influenced. Rich in scientific and medical works on cannabis, hashish, opium, coca, peyote, LSD, anesthetics and various derivatives, it documents in depth both the benefits of controlled use and the horrors of addiction. The bulk of the collection, however, explores drug use by individuals and the influence such use and users had on their society, with emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries in America and France. The collections became known as the Ludlow Santo Domingo (LSD) Library, following Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr.’s acquisition and integration of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Library of San Francisco in 2001.

Turn-of-the-20th-century literature is particularly well represented, with major collections of Charles Baudelaire, Thomas De Quincey, Claude Farrère, Pierre Louÿs, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, and others. Many of the books are inscribed, have letters or drawings inserted, or are in deluxe bindings. There is also an extensive collection of French erotica, ranging in date from rare editions of de Sade’s Justine (1791, a copy with a nail puncture running through both covers and text block, and purportedly nailed to a pillory) to the manuscript of Pauline Réage’s Histoire d’O (1954) and the first printing of Emmanuelle (ca. 1960).

Post-World War II literature is another strength, with extensive collections of William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, Jack Kerouac (including 12 hours of home-made recordings of him reading, singing, and discussing Satoris in Paris), and Timothy Leary.

Material documenting mid-20th-century popular culture, and the counterculture, in America and France is extensive, and is a particularly welcome addition to the Harvard collections, as the Library did not collect these items contemporaneously.

Long runs of “pulp” fiction, including crime novels, science fiction, mass-market paperbacks, erotica, and underground and mainstream comics show how the drug culture began to permeate national cultures. There are also approximately 2,000 film posters and stills, largely documenting drug-related films and psychedelic “happenings.”

Related Photograph

Listen to Carl Williams, Maggs Bros. Ltd. "Collecting the Counterculture"

Introduction by Leslie Morris,
Houghton Library

Thursday, November 14, 2012 (54 minutes)

Return to Top


John Collier. <em>Short stories</em>. New York: Editions for the Armed Services, [1945].  SF 479.

Louis Laloy. Le livre de la fumée. Paris:
Dorbon-aîné, 1913. HV5816.L346 1913x (C)

The collection was formed by Julio Mario Santo Domingo Jr. (1957-2009), an investment advisor who resigned his business interests to devote himself to collecting. His acquisitions followed his wide-ranging personal interests, from a passion for French 19th-century poetry and fin-de-siècle culture that developed when studying comparative literature at Columbia University; to exploring man’s inner world through drugs, mysticism, the occult, sex, social taboos; to a fascination with the interrelationships of “high” and “low” culture.  In very basic terms, his collecting centered on sex, drugs, and rock and roll. In addition to the collection now deposited at Harvard, he formed a major Rock and Roll Collection (now at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland), and the world’s largest collection of opium pipes. 

The collection has been deposited on long-term loan at Harvard by his son, Julio Santo Domingo.

Return to Top

Locating Materials

The libraries began cataloging the collection in summer 2012, and new items are added to the catalog daily. To locate the collection within the HOLLIS catalog, search for Author=Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection. The Modern Books and Manuscripts Blog regularly posts items of interest from the Santo Domingo Collection.

Return to Top


(Photographer unknown). Pamela des Barres. Not dated.

Personal bookplate of Julio Mario Santo
Domingo Jr.

The Ludlow-Santo Domingo Library is not physically together in one location. Materials are housed in the Botany Libraries; the Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library; the Fine Arts Library; Schlesinger Library; and Widener Library, as well as in Houghton Library. Locations are noted in the catalog records. Readers can browse the collection “virtually” through the HOLLIS catalog, as described above.

Collection material is available for research use once it has appeared in HOLLIS. It is not possible to locate specific items within the uncataloged portion of the collection.

Many items in the collection, such as pulp paperbacks, were printed on low-quality paper, and are brittle. These are so identified in HOLLIS as “Restricted.” Readers are asked to consult other copies at Harvard, when they are available; permission to use restricted material must be obtained from the Modern Books and Manuscripts Department. Additionally, some manuscript material is uncataloged and requires permission from the Modern Books and Manuscripts Department for use.

Return to Top