October 15, 2020 • Noon
Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin
Presented by Megan Rosenbloom, Collection Strategies Librarian at UCLA and cofounder of Death Salon
There are books out there, some shelved unwittingly next to ordinary texts, that are bound in human skin. Would you know one if you held it in your hand? In Dark Archives Megan Rosenbloom seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these alleged human skin books still sit on the shelves of the world’s most famous libraries and museums; one of them may even be at Bancroft! What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, women, and indigents whose lives are bound together in this rare, scattered, and disquieting collection. It also tells the story of the scientists, curators, and librarians like Rosenbloom—interested in the full complicated histories behind these dark artifacts of nineteenth-century medicine—who are developing tests to discover these books and sorting through the ethics of custodianship. In her talk, Rosenbloom will give us a background on the historical practice of binding books with human skin and read from her upcoming monograph on the subject.
You can pre-order a signed copy of Dark Archives through Skylight Books in Los Angeles.