Friday, January 06, 2006

They found me in the library!

This story is SO strange it is hard to imagine it being legitimate, but it is! So which book would you choose to be bound in? Something to think about...

Some of nation’s best libraries have books bound in human skin


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Brown University’s library boasts an unusual anatomy book. Tanned and polished to a smooth golden brown, its cover looks and feels no different from any other fine leather.


But here’s its secret: the book is bound in human skin.


A number of prestigious libraries—including Harvard University’s—have such books in their collections. While the idea of making leather from human skin seems bizarre and cruel today, it was not uncommon in centuries past, said Laura Hartman, a rare book cataloger at the National Library of Medicine in Maryland and author of a paper on the subject.


An article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from the late 1800s “suggests that it was common, but it also indicates it wasn’t talked about in polite society,” Hartman said.


The best libraries then belonged to private collectors. Some were doctors who had access to skin from amputated parts and patients whose bodies were not claimed. They found human leather to be relatively cheap, durable and waterproof, Hartman said.


In other cases, wealthy bibliophiles may have acquired the skin from criminals who were executed, cadavers used in medical schools and people who died in the poor house, said Sam Streit, director of Brown’s John Hay Library.

(Here is the rest of the story that really must be read as it is TOO odd!!)


Anonymous said...

Eeewwwwwww! I wish I had something more intelligent to say, but . . . . blech!

SusannahCox said...

That is very odd.

Of course, I don't approve of treating people like animals, for any reason. We don't make tanned leather of people. Imago Dei, and all that. It's an exceedingly strange way to "honor" someone. I think the highway robber/victim story freaked me out the most!

Janne said...


I guess you learn something new every day.

sparrow said...

I am NOT reading the rest of that story. ;)

Thanks for the midday gross-out, Kate!

Anonymous said...

That is a piece of trivia I could do without.

Miss you lots and think fondly of drinking coffee with you while surrounded by a bevy of adorable children.

Blessings for your new year

JenIG said...

First thing that popped into my head when I read this was:

red singlet dust jacket