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Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin

$44.99

$44.99

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, a medical librarian and a cofounder of the Death Salon, seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind this anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these books still sit on the shelves of the world’s most famous libraries and museums. What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, mental patients, beautiful 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—are developing tests to discover these books and sorting through the ethics of custodianship.

A whip-smart and witty writer, Rosenbloom has crafted a narrative that is equal parts detective work, academic intrigue, history, and medical curiosity. Thrilling, captivating, and macabre in all the right ways, Dark Archives encourages us to take another look at the very serious ways in which the powerful have objectified people over time—perfect for fans of Mary Roach, Lindsey Fitzharris, and the art of collecting.

Book Information

  • ISBN: 9780374134709
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pub Date: 14/12/2020
  • Category: Lifestyle, sport & leisure / Antiques & collectables: books, manuscripts, ephemera & printed matter
  • Imprint: Farrar Straus Giroux
  • Pages: 288
  • Price: $44.99

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, a medical librarian and a cofounder of the Death Salon, seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind this anthropodermic bibliopegy. Dozens of these books still sit on the shelves of the world’s most famous libraries and museums. What are their stories? Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, mental patients, beautiful 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—are developing tests to discover these books and sorting through the ethics of custodianship.

A whip-smart and witty writer, Rosenbloom has crafted a narrative that is equal parts detective work, academic intrigue, history, and medical curiosity. Thrilling, captivating, and macabre in all the right ways, Dark Archives encourages us to take another look at the very serious ways in which the powerful have objectified people over time—perfect for fans of Mary Roach, Lindsey Fitzharris, and the art of collecting.

Author Information

Megan Rosenbloom is a medical librarian who studies the history of medicine and rare books. Formerly a journalist, she now serves as associate director for Instruction Services at the Norris Medical Library of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She is also the obituary editor of the Journal of the Medical Library Association and serves on the board of the George Dock Society for the History of Medicine. She is also the cofounder and director of the Death Salon, the event arm of the Order of the Good Death, and is a leader in the Death Positive movement.

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