Latest NYPL Post on Processing the Leary Papers: Annotations and Fact Clarification

Photo by Jennifer Ulrich, NYPL

Jennifer Ulrich is the archivist in charge of processing the Timothy Leary Papers at the New York Public Library, their new home. She’s been blogging about the entire process, and providing a few peeks inside at a few goodies while she’s at it.

Jennifer’s latest post provides documentation directly from the archives that will correct misinformation and enhance the information we already have. She discusses how Tim liked to annotate documents in his archives, and sign them, just as he was dedicated to revising and updating his books whenever a new edition was in the works.

Jennifer’s second post explains in more detail what the project involves, and what kinds of archival resources will be accessible online when it is completed.

Her first post gave us an introduction to the current goals of the project, and some interesting history about Tim’s Starseed period, which began when he was in Folsom prison in 1973, to serve out the rest of his sentence, plus five years for the escape.

Terra II, referenced on page 63 of Tim’s Annotated Bibliography, is “a manual for space colonization” (and secondarily, a prison escape fantasy connected to the approach of Comet Kohoutek), written in Folsom Prison by Leary and co-prisoner Wayne Benner, with illustrations done by another prisoner, Harold Olson.

From the bibliography:

“The subject of the work is the evolution/migration from Terra I (Planet Earth) to Terra II (an orbiting space colony between Earth and the Moon)…Like the monographs Neurologic and Starseed, the proceeds of the sale of Terra II were intended to help pay expenses of costly legal appeals by Leary to win his freedom from prison.”

Such legal appeals did not work, and Leary wasn’t released until he was pardoned by then and now California Governor Jerry Brown, on April 21, 1976.

In Leary’s own words:

“Terra II…defined migration from the planet as the goal of our species. To me this was the ultimate escape plot.”

In some copies of the book there was inserted as a promotional bookmark, “Ticket to Ride,” designed by Michael Horowitz and Disney artist Dana Reemes who appropriated R. Crumb’s drawing of Tim from El Perfecto Comics (1973).

These were given away to the audience at the “Wake-Up for Timothy Leary,” an event held in Berkeley in 1975 to bring attention to the fact that Leary was being held deep in the federal prison system for many months without anyone having access to him.

At age 53 he was serving a 10-15 year sentence in California and threatened with a 75-year federal sentence, after being labelled the”Hippie Godfather” for his connection to the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. (More details about this in a futher post.)

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