Shroomer Publications

Editor’s Note: This cross-posting is part of a series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo collection recently acquired by Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Thanks to Alison Harris, Santo Domingo Project Manager, Gretchen Wade, and Judith Warnement of Harvard’s Botany Libraries for contributing the original post at Houghton’s Modern Books and Manuscripts blog.

What to do if you are looking for the “ultimate guide for safe mushroom picking”? Frank and Cheeri Rinaldo had the answer in 1979 with Safe-pik, a flip book of handy mushroom identification cards featuring photographs by John W. Allen. Measuring only about 2 1/2 by 4 inches it could easily fit in your pocket and deals mainly with Psilocybins, the type of mushrooms that contain a naturally occurring psychedelic compound. There is a helpful disclaimer that children should not take mushrooms, one should never trespass, and that mushrooms should be used for the purpose they were intended … mind expansion.

Safe-pik mushroom identification cards / [Frank & Cheeri Rinaldo; photographs by John Allen]. [Seattle?]: Shroomer Publications, c1979.
Visual identification of mushrooms is hardly a new concept, as seen by the German publication Naturgeschichte des Pflanzenreiches in Bildern by Dr. Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert.

Read more

Drugs and the Military

Editor’s note: As a law professor, Buford Terrell specialized in controlled substances law. He now hosts a public interest television program in Houston called Drugs, Crime, and Politics, produced by the Drug Policy Forum of Texas, and publishes a blog called Marijuana Musings and Drug Law Diversions. We cross-post this recent entry of his because it surveys the use of drugs by American personnel in various armed conflicts, with the aim of generating interest in the topic among students and historians.

This piece is a confession of ignorance. I’m going to tell you what I don’t know about drug use in the military in hopes I can attract the eye of some historian eager to spend a little time – perhaps a few decades – excavating through musty warehouses crammed with military records.

The ignorance I am talking about here is about how much drug use has taken place in the American military and what effect, if any, that use has had on military structure, discipline, and effectiveness. While I am woefully ignorant, I have found some clues indicating that more knowledge about those questions is available and can be discovered.  These clues are tantalizing and I’ll share them with you in hopes that you can add to them or share them with a historian who may want to do the work. I’ve arranged these clues by the major military engagements the U. S. has had, beginning with the Civil War.

Civil War: Many people know that after the Civil War, opiate dependency was known as the “Old Soldier’s Disease,” but most of these addictions probably came from treatments for intractable and neuropathic pain incurred after the patients had left the army. At least one report has surfaced of a Union officer who made his troops drink a daily dose of opium to prevent dysentery.

Read more

Higher Ed in the Halfway House

recent article from Stanford University’s in-house news service highlights a continuing ed program that has made humanities coursework an aid to both addiction recovery and the broader social stability needed to sustain it. The Hope House Scholars Program was founded in 2001 by Stanford philosophy profs Debra Satz and Rob Reich, who were inspired by the Clemente Course in the Humanities program founded by Earl Shorris in 1995. Each term, two Stanford profs team up to teach a course to the residents of Hope House, a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility for women, many of whom have recently been released from prison. The courses focus on themes including ethics, social justice, and moral responsibility. Each of the roughly 16 graduates per term receives college credit and a voucher for another continuing ed course. Corrie Goldman reports:

Wende C. is a grandmother who worked in banking for 27 years. She is also a crack addict who checked herself into Hope House, a residential drug and alcohol treatment facility in Redwood City, Calif., so she could learn the skills she needs to recover from her addiction.

As a resident in the all-female facility, she participated in group and individual therapy sessions, and health and nutrition seminars. She also attended a weekly humanities course.

Each session focused on one historical female figure, including medieval philosopher Hildegard of Bingen, poet Emily Dickinson, African American abolitionist Sojourner Truth and Hatshepsut, one of the most successful pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

At first, Wende wondered about the merit of studying “old and dead people,” but she said that learning about influential women made her feel “empowered” and helped her realize that it’s “OK for women to take a stand.”

One of the reasons I find this kind of program fascinating is the way it interacts with the humanist traditions built into the various mutual-aid and talk therapies used in recovery facilities and beyond.

Read more

“Crack is Wack”: The Crack Era Narrative of Keith Haring

ImageToday, a two-sided mural painted over a handball court stands at 128th Street and 2nd Avenue in East Harlem.  Demonstrably overlooking busy FDR Drive, the mural reminds all onlookers that “Crack is Wack,” standing as a monument, or perhaps a relic of a different time.  The story of the mural, as well as its artist, tell us much about the historical context of the Crack Era. 

ImageThe parable of the “Crack is Wack” mural and Keith Haring might aptly begin with its inception in 1986, a pivotal year—the pivotal year in the trajectory of crack, urban spaces, and their residents.  On this day, Haring’s legitimate international career as an artist mattered little.  Because of his location and the medium of his work, Haring found himself constructed as a criminal, or at the very least, a public nuisance.  Before he finished, Haring found himself slapped with a summons by a surly policeman tired of punks defacing public property.  Haring ended up paying a $25 fine for disorderly conduct.  Then, a funny thing happened.  The ordeal helped Haring towards his goal, that of added publicity and awareness to his anti-crack message. 

More than likely, the officer in question neglected to read the message of Haring’s mural nor did he consider the artist’s considerable thought behind its location.  Haring must have been just another resentful youth tagging public property for no good reason.  In reality, Haring picked the relatively deserted site because of its visibility to thousands of motorists driving into Manhattan from the Bronx, upstate New York, and New England—many of them less familiar with the devastation wrought by crack and the exigencies of the era.  Later Haring acknowledged his strategy explaining, “the wall Imagelooks like a big billboard on the highway, it’s perfect for painting.”  Much like various grassroots, New York based, anti-crack crusaders, Keith Haring sought to increase awareness of a major neighborhood problem by speaking to folks within and without the confines of Harlem. 

Read more

The Tobacco Census v. “Ffrauds and Mischiefs”

Editor’s Note: Featured is another installment in our occasional series of fascinating cross-postings from the blogs published by various libraries and archives. Today’s post comes from Out of the Box: Notes from the Archives @ The Library of Virginia, and was authored by Sarah Nerney, senior local records archivist. 

Virginia’s agricultural production, as well as its economy, was dominated by tobacco for over three centuries, ever since John Rolfe sent his first shipment of tobacco to England in 1614. Growth of the Virginia colony and extension into the interior meant more soil and larger crops of tobacco. Despite the continuous growth in production, the tobacco trade was plagued by falling prices and decreased quality. By the 1720s, tobacco exports included large quantities of inferior product that even included shipments of “trash” tobacco—shipments that diluted tobacco leaves with foreign substances such as household sweepings. Consequently the price of tobacco sank so low that many planters struggled to recover production costs.

Tobacco growing in the streets of Jamestown. From Robert K. Heimann, Tobacco and Americans (1960). Image courtesy of Library of Virginia Special Collections.
Tobacco growing in the streets of Jamestown. From Robert K. Heimann, Tobacco and Americans (1960). Image courtesy of Library of Virginia Special Collections.

In 1723 Virginia’s General Assembly passed the first of its Tobacco Acts that attempted to control the quantity and quality of tobacco grown in the colony because it was believed that “most of the ffrauds [sic] and mischiefs which have been complained of in the Tobacco Trade” had arisen from the “planting on land not proper for producing good Tobacco” and the production of “greater Crops than the persons employed therein are able duly to tend.” The 1723 act established limits on the number of plants that certain classes of persons could grow with slave owners being allowed fewer plants. Each vestry of every parish had to appoint two people every year to count the number of plants being grown and report the numbers to the clerk of court by the month of August. Any number of plants over the allowed number were to be destroyed by the planter or, if the planter would not, by the counters. The act of 1729 provided various adjustments to and elaborations on the 1723 act. (For full text of the acts see The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 20, pp. 158-178.)

Read more

The Book of Smoke

Editor’s Note: This cross-posting is part of a series featuring items from the Julio Mario Santo Domingo collection recently acquired by Harvard University’s Houghton Library. Thanks to rare book cataloger Ryan Wheeler for producing the original post at Houghton’s Modern Books and Manuscripts blog.

The opium dens prevalent in France and the United States during the 19th century, as well as the culture surrounding them, resulted in copious literature, such as this rarely-seen work: Le livre de la fumée, by French author, musicologist, and student of Chinese culture Louis Laloy. This treatise on opium’s use and history both domestically and in China features a preface by Claude Farrère, author of the novel Fumée d’opium. It was published in 1915 by Dorbon-Ainé in a lavish limited edition of 220 numbered copies with illustrations throughout.

Fumee-1-largeThe Santo Domingo Collection includes several of the 220 copies; the one shown here is bound in full tan morocco with gilt stamping and embroidered cloth endsheets by the French bindery Marius Michel. The binding preserves the publisher’s original wrappers, themselves sumptuously illustrated in color.

Read more