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William Richards collection of Walter Pahnke papers

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: MSP 68

Scope and Contents

William Richards Collection of Walter Pahnke papers (1952-1972; 0.2 cubic feet) contains materials that document the life and works of Walter Pahnke. Article reprints, a listing of his publications, a photograph of Pahnke, a summary of his doctoral thesis, his CV from 1970, an account of his first LSD experience, a poem by his wife, personal manuscripts, and his obituary are included in the collection.


  • 1952-1972
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1964-1971
  • Other: Date acquired: 05/04/2010


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Consult a reference archivist for details.

Biographical or Historical Information

Walter Pahnke (1931-1971) earned his Artium Baccalaureus (magna cum laude) from Carleton College in 1952, his MD from Harvard Medical School in 1956, his BD (cum laude) from Harvard Divinity School in 1960, and his PhD from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1964. He completed training in LSD therapy and research with Hanscarl Leuner at the University of Göttingen and completed his psychiatric residency at the Massachusetts Mental Health Care Center. Pahnke’s main research interests were psychopharmacology (especially psychedelic drugs in regard to psychotherapeutic usefulness, sociological abuse, and religious implications), psychiatric and ethical issues in the care of the dying patient, and psychology of religion. He held many esteemed positions in the field of psychiatry and served as the Director of Clinical Sciences at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine before his untimely death in 1971. Pahnke wrote many articles concerning the therapeutic use of LSD including his 1969 article “The Psychedelic Mystical Experience in the Human Encounter with Death.” He was a Phi Beta Kappa member, a Kent Fellow, and an Ingersoll Lecturer at Harvard University. Pahnke passed away at the age of forty in a scuba diving accident in the Atlantic off the coast of Maine on July 10, 1971 leaving behind his wife and three children. Pahnke was “admired by his friends for his boundless energy and enthusiasm and for the diversity of his interests.” Source: “William Richards Collection of Walter Pahnke papers.” Purdue University Special Collections and Archives.

Note written by


0.20 Cubic Feet

5 folders other_unmapped

1.00 mss._boxes

Source of Acquisition

William Richards

Method of Acquisition


Existence and Location of Originals

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Related Materials

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Processing Information

All materials have been place in archival housing.
William Richards collection of Walter Pahnke papers
Kristin Leaman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 W. State Street
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States