Harvard Discovers Three Of Its Library Books Are Bound In Human Flesh
A few years ago, three separate books were discovered in Harvard University’s library that had particularly strange-looking leather covers. Upon further inspection, it was discovered that the smooth binding was actually human flesh… in one case, skin harvested from a man who was flayed alive.
As it turns out, the practice of using human skin to bind books was actually pretty popular during the 17th century. It’s referred to as Anthropodermic bibliopegy and proved pretty common when it came to anatomical textbooks. Medical professionals would often use the flesh of cadavers they’d dissected during their research.
One of the books includes an inscription in purple cursive:
"The bynding of this booke is all that remains of my dear friende Jonas Wright, who was flayed alive by the Wavuma on the Fourth Day of August, 1632. King Mbesa did give me the book, it being one of poore Jonas chiefe possessions, together with ample of his skin to bynd it. Requiescat in pace."
Stories like this always make me feel like the archives I’m working on isn’t nearly special/spooky enough.
"Too many young women I think are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. You have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, whatever the personal setbacks and even insults that come your way might be. That takes a sense of humor about yourself and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice I’m putting forth. It’s not like you wake up and understand this. It’s a process."
In the Library with the Lead Pipe » Working at Learning: Developing an Integrated Approach to Student Staff Development
I’ve been the “interim student worker manager” for the past few months at my library, and though we’re finally getting a permanent manager in early May(!), this article has me thinking a lot about how to better engage and develop our wonderful student workers.
Cutter and Paste: A DIY Guide for Catalogers Who Don’t Know About Zines and Zine Librarians Who Don't Know About Cataloging - Academic Commons
My zine cataloging chapter, written with Rhonda Kauffman for Informed Agitation is now available in Columbia’s Academic Commons. There are 15 rollicking pages of annotated MARC fields. Download now!
This is amazing.
An excellent way to start Tuesday.