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Wasson Family papers

Identifier: BUSC-2015-001

Scope and Contents

The Wasson family papers include the diaries, photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, publications and ephemera belonging to the Wasson family. The core of the collection draws its strength from materials related to Edmund Atwill Wasson, Mary DeVeny Wasson and their sons, Thomas Campbell Wasson and Richard Gordon Wasson. The bulk of materials date to the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, providing a unique perspective on historical events and social attitudes.

Materials housed in the collection encompass a broad range of subjects and interests, but the majority of the collection is made up of correspondence between family members.

The other focus of the collection is centered around the career of Thomas Campbell Wasson. Wasson served as a member of the American Foreign Service between 1924 and 1948. His career was brought to an abrupt end shortly after his appointment to the Truce Commission in Jerusalem. Wasson was shot by a sniper’s bullet and fatally wounded after returning from a meeting at the French Consulate. The collection is a testament and memory to Thomas, which was largely curated and preserved by his devoted brother, Richard Gordon.

The Richard G. Wasson papers contain mostly personal correspondence between family and business colleagues. Richard Wasson’s career as Vice President of Social Media Relations at J.P. Morgan and contributions to the field of ethno-mycology, brought him into contact with figures such as Richard Schultes, Bern Dibner, and Albert Hofmann.


  • 1850 - 1987
  • Majority of material found within 1880 - 1987


Conditions Governing Access

This collection has been reviewed for restrictions and is open for research.

Historical Note

The Wasson family is made up of parents Edmund Atwill Wasson (1863 - 1949), a pastor, and Mary DeVeny Wasson, and their two sons, diplomat Thomas Campbell Wasson (1896 - 1948) and mycologist R. Gordon Wasson (1898 - 1986). R. Gordon Wasson married Valentina Pavlovna (Guercken) in 1926.

For details about individual family members, see series descriptions.


16.5 Linear Feet (38 boxes and 2 folders)

Language of Materials



The Wasson Family Papers collection contain correspondence, notes, memoranda, lists, diaries, translations, drafts, typescripts, proofs, government documents and illustrations related to the principal members of the Wasson family including most notably Thomas Campbell Wasson, Richard Gordon Wasson, and Valentina Pavlovna Wasson.


The collection is arranged into series by family member, with genealogy and general family information in the last series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dr. Mary X. Britten, daughter of R. Gordon Wasson, 2015.

Related Materials

The Harvard University Herbaria holds the Tina and R. Gordon Wasson Ethnomycological Collection Archives. Additional R. Gordon Wasson papers can be found at the Wasson-Ruck Entheogenic Research Institute and Archives.

One book with no discernable connection to the Wasson family was removed from this collection and cataloged separately.

Processing Information

Starting in 2018, Madelynn Cullings worked in Special Collections processing the Wasson Family Papers. She arranged the materials into series, rehoused files, and started creating a description for the collection, including detailed biographical notes. However, in mid-March 2020, the university issued stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic and progress on the collection halted.

In 2023, Madison White finished the processing of the collection. Since the collection had already been seperated into sections of related materials, these groupings and their arrangement were left largely intact. Groupings about each family member were brought together to form each series, with a series for general family information at the end. The collection was then rehoused and a new finding aid was created.

Guide to the Wasson family papers
Madelynn Cullings (Student Assistant) and Madison White (Archival Processing Manager)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections Repository

Binghamton NY 13902 USA