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Albert Hofmann correspondence and other materials

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSP 89

Scope and Contents

The Albert Hofmann correspondence and other materials contains correspondence with Ralph Metzner and Rolf von Eckartsberg, a photocopy of Hofmann's patent for LSD, photographs of Hofmann, a brochure for U.C. Santa Cruz Symposium (1982), and clippings on Hofmann.


  • 1948 - 2006


Language of Materials

Collection material is in English and German.

Access Information

This collection is open for research.

Copyright and Use Information

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Biographical Information

Albert Hofmann was born on January 11, 1906 in Baden, Switzerland.  He began studying science at the University of Zurich when he was twenty years old; four years later, he finished his doctoral thesis in chemistry.   Hofmann’s thesis concerned vineyard snails and how they produce the carbohydrate, chitin.  By the time he earned his Ph.D., Hofmann was already working for Sandoz Laboratories in Basel.  He began working on a project at Sandoz, where he was deriving drug compounds from ergot.  In the 1930s, he worked to fuse lysergic acid with other compounds in hopes to make the lysergic acid more stable.  In November of 1938, Hofmann created that stable synthetic version, naming it “Lyserg-Saure-Diathylamid-25” (LSD-25) or “Lysergic-Acid-Diethylamide-25” in English.  The “25” represents that it was Hofmann’s 25th compound for this Sandoz project.  Eventually, the project finished and nothing further was done with LSD-25. It was not until April 16, 1943 when Hofmann accidentally handled the substance and then rubbed his eye; he began feeling the effects shortly thereafter.  He left the laboratory and rode his bicycle home, which became known as his famous bicycle ride.  The following work day, Hofmann deliberately ingested .25 milligrams (about ten times the “normal” amount unbeknownst to him) of LSD-25 and had to be taken home; the effects were too strong and Hoffman experienced some rather frightening hallucinations.  Once he was checked by a doctor and told he was not, in fact, dying, Hofmann relaxed and eventually fell asleep.  The next morning he felt reborn and his senses renewed.  Hofmann reported what had happened to his supervisors at Sandoz, and LSD-25 was tested on three more employees.  These results were shared with a researcher at the University of Zurich, where LSD-25 was identified as a non-toxic psychotropic compound.  Sandoz began offering LSD-25 to qualified researchers and medical professionals after 1947, and many psychologists and psychiatrists were very excited about the promising effects LSD-25 had on troubled patients, especially those suffering from schizophrenia.  The drug was then used by the CIA in a controversial covert project called MKULTRA, where it was used during the interrogation of enemy combatants and captured foreign intelligence agents.  It is said that experiments were also conducted on U.S. military personal and civilian subjects in psychiatric hospitals. Unfortunately, the counterculture of the 1960s helped to demonize the potentially useful LSD-25; and by the late 1960s, LSD was outlawed in most countries, which hindered scientific studies of the drug.  Hofmann was disappointed in the casual use of LSD-25 and wrote a book in 1983 titled LSD, My Problem Child: Reflections on Sacred Drugs, Mysticism and Science. Hoffman asserted that LSD-25 should be a controlled substance, just as morphine.  On April 29, 2008, Hofmann passed away from a heart attack; he was 102 years old.   Source: "Albert Hofmann." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Vol. 30. Detroit: Gale, 2010. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.


0.25 Cubic Feet (One half-width legal-size manuscript box)


Collection material is arranged according to subject matter.

Acquisition Information

Collection material purchased from Michael Horowitz of Flashback Books, June 1, 2011.
Albert Hofmann correspondence and other materials
Under Review
Stephanie Schmitz, Kristin Leaman, and Serena Potter
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
Second edition. Collection description was first completed November 17, 2011.

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States