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Faces & Places:
Sorting Photos in the Shulgin Archive
by Stacy Simone
Feb 2016
Citation:   Simone, S. "Faces & Places: Sorting Photos in the Shulgin Archive". Erowid Extracts. Feb 2016;28:2. Online edition: Erowid.org/culture/characters/shulgin_alexander/shulgin_alexander_article4.shtml
A photo of Ann and Sasha Shulgin circa 1995.
Ann Shulgin and Stacy Simone review scans of historical photos to add meta data.
Ann and Alexander Shulgin at their wedding in 1981.
Alexander Shulgin through the open doorway of his research lab, circa 1990.
Alexander Shulgin wearing an orange parka on a boat, circa 1978.
Ann Shulgin as baby circa 1932 on the beach with her mother, interacting with a black cow.
Laura Ann Gotlieb (later Ann Shulgin) in the early 1960s.
Sasha Shulgin playing his viola, circa 1981.
Alexander Shulgin standing in his lab. Circa 1980.
Most of the Shulgin research group: Darrel Lemaire, unknown, Myron Stolaroff, Dale, Phyllis, Sasha, Ann, Peyton, circa 1980.
Myron Stolaroff and Mark Kleiman at a conference circa 1995.
Alexander Shulgin at Giants game, 1983.
Ann Shulgin at Giants game, 1983.
For the past ten months I've been brushing aside dust, cobwebs, stuffed animals, and tchotchkes to discover buried-but-not-forgotten photographs. Some are pasted into albums or sit neatly in their original envelopes with negatives still intact, while others are strewn haphazardly in random boxes, or displayed on shelves.

Whether it's images of Sasha engrossed in laboratory experiments, antique photos of the Shulgins' extended families dating back to the early 1900s, heartwarming baby pictures of newer family members, or perplexing portraits such as a one-year-old Ann holding a young cow on a leash at the beach, each box or envelope is a surprise--I never know what will surface. While uncovering these treasures, I have gotten to know the Shulgins and their families in a uniquely intimate way, from infancy to their elder years and to Sasha's final days. I have joined them in the raising of children, attending Burning Man, and travelling the world. And most of all, I have joined them in celebrating their life's work, which has been such an inspiration to so many.

Reviewing these photos involves setting aside those that are higher quality, scanning them, importing them into Aperture, rating them for quality, and labeling for faces and places. Ann and I spend about an hour each week sitting at the kitchen table and going through images, identifying people and moments. Each one triggers fascinating stories and anecdotes.

Recently, a few photos of Ann and Sasha at a Giants game surfaced. Surprised to see them at a ball game, I asked Ann if they were secret sports fans. No--apparently this was the only ball game Ann has ever attended. On this outing, they were experimenting with one of Sasha's creations, the name of which Ann can't remember "but it was one of the T's", she says.

At the game, the substance seemed to have no effect at all. A few weeks later, they consumed the same compound at the same dosage with their research group in Palo Alto. This time, there was a blast of reaction! "The wallpaper in the bathroom was doing amazing things", Ann comments. That substance "became famous as the non-effective drug that was more than effective."

Unearthing these jewels of time is like exploring an archeological dig. I look forward to seeing what's under the next rock! By preserving these treasures, the Shulgins' legacy will be carried on for generations to come.


Photo Credits #
  1. All photos from the Shulgin Archive.
Revision History #
  • v1.0 - Feb 2016 - published in Erowid Extracts.
  • v1.1 - Aug 2016 - Erowid - Published on Erowid.org.