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

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

by Megan Rosenbloom


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by Tuesday, December 7


On bookshelves around the world, surrounded by ordinary books bound in paper and leather, rest other volumes of a distinctly strange and grisly sort: those 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—the practice of binding books in this most intimate covering. Dozens of such books live on in the world’s most famous libraries and museums. Dark Archives exhumes their origins and brings to life the doctors, murderers, and indigents whose lives are sewn together in this disquieting collection. Along the way, Rosenbloom tells the story of how her team of scientists, curators, and librarians test rumored anthropodermic books, untangling the myths around their creation and reckoning with the ethics of their custodianship.

A librarian and journalist, Rosenbloom is a member of The Order of the Good Death and a cofounder of their Death Salon, a community that encourages conversations, scholarship, and art about mortality and mourning. In Dark Archives—captivating and macabre in all the right ways—she has crafted a narrative that is equal parts detective work, academic intrigue, history, and medical curiosity: a book as rare and thrilling as its subject.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374134709
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 10/20/2020
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 111,768
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Megan Rosenbloom is a librarian with a research interest in the history of medicine and rare books. Formerly a medical librarian and journalist, she is now the collection strategies librarian at UCLA Library in Los Angeles. She is also the president of the Southern California Society for the History of Medicine. She is a member of the Anthropodermic Book Project, a multidisciplinary team scientifically testing alleged human skin books around the world to verify their human origin. A proponent of the death-positive movement, she was also the cofounder and director of Death Salon, the events arm of the Order of the Good Death.

Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Prologue: Under Glass 3

1 The First Printing 19

2 This Dreadful Workshop 35

3 Gentlemen Collectors 49

4 Skin Craft 67

5 Secrets of the Sages-Femmes 79

6 The Long Shadow of the Night Doctors 95

7 The Postmortem Travels of William Corder 115

8 Echoes of Tanner's Close 131

9 The Highwayman's Gift 147

10 Ghosts in the Library 161

11 My Corpse, My Choice 185

12 The French Connection 197

Epilogue: Humane Anatomy 211

The Anthropodermic Book Project's List of Confirmed Human Skin Books as of March 2020 229

Notes 231

Acknowledgments 259

Index 263

Customer Reviews