John C. Lilly sound recordings digitized for use by the BBC

January 14, 2014
Nathan Coy
John C. Lilly open reel audio tape

Recently a film director from the BBC visited the Stanford Libraries while seeking content for a documentary related to the noted cetacean researcher and activist John C. Lilly (1915-2001).

The researcher found many sound recordings in the Lilly papers documenting two notorious experiments; one was an attempt to teach dolphins to communicate using English and the other was administering LSD to dolphins. The English language experiment spanned 10 weeks during the summer of 1965 and attempted to replicate a human parent/child model of language development through cohabitation. The LSD experiments invloved administering LSD to the dolphin Peter. On the LSD tapes Peter is quite silent.

This is just one example of the historic audiovisual content the Stanford Media Preservation Lab helps ensure access to for both Stanford and the broader world stage.

John C. Lilly open reel audio tape

For more information on John C. Lilly and his collaborators keep an eye out for the BBC4 documentary and explore the John C. Lilly papers held by Special Collections at the Stanford University Library.