Megan Rosenbloom--a collection strategies librarian at the UCLA library, president of the Southern California Society for the History of Medicine, research team leader of The Anthropodermic Book Project, and author of Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin--delves into the who, what, when, where, and, most importantly, why of books bound in human skin. She discusses with Eve and Julie how the desensitization and clinical distancing of doctors’ attitudes towards patients during the 19th century led to an increase in the production of books bound in human skin; how public hangings and dissections were used to dissuade people from becoming criminals; and how our understanding of societal ills like political propaganda and systemic racism can be deepened by the study of books bound in human skin. Eve and Julie also get an answer to the question, Can a whole book--ink, paper, binding--be made entirely from a human body?
Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin
Winner of the 2021 Best Monograph Award from LAMPHHS (Librarians, Archivists, & Museum Professionals in the History of the Health Sciences)
Driven by an engine of curiosity, Rosenbloom moves through history at a brisk pace, bookending each chapter with excellent hooks and cliff hangers, all of which makes for propulsive reading . . . A species of reparative writing, Dark Archives excavates the hidden stories stitched into the binding of anthropodermic books and, in doing so, restores some humanity to victims of medical exploitation. Delightful and propulsive, Rosenbloom's measured balance of bloody thrills with historical fact and ethical nuance makes Dark Archives a titillating Halloween read. ―Connor Goodwin, NPR