Dark Archives Book Talk

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Saturday November 13

2:00 PM  –  3:00 PM



Join librarian and author Megan Rosenbloom as she takes us into the bookishly macabre world of anthropodermic bibliopegy - or books bound in human skin - with readings from her debut book Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin.


In conversation with Mütter Museum co-director and curator,  Anna Dhody and library colleagues, they'll dive into what these books tell us about the history of medicine in Philadelphia, the book as object and the patient as objectified, medical and museum ethics, and new scientific methods of learning about old books. They will also discuss the individual histories of the five human skin books at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia's Historical Medical Library that make this building the home of the largest collection of confirmed anthropodermic books in the world. These books will be on display at the event along with other related unusual book art examples.


Interested in purchasing your own copy of Dark Archives? After adding the event to your cart, please check off the box saying "Please reserve a book for me to purchase" under the Registration Information. Books will be reserved and held in the museum store. Rosenbloom will be available to sign copies of Dark Archives at the end of the event.


Interested in visiting the Mütter Museum? Museum admission is not included with the event, however, museum tickets can be purchased online for the day of the event. Purchase your museum ticket today! Tickets often sell out on weekends so we recommend purchasing as soon as possible.


Museum Members and College Fellows:When you sign in at the top of the page or register, you'll receive 20% off your ticket once it's added to the cart!


About The Book:


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: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science & History of Books Bound in Human SkinMegan Rosenbloom, a medical librarian and a co-founder of the Death Salon, seeks out the historic and scientific truths behind 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, 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 and the art of collecting. 


About the Author: 



Megan Curran Rosenbloom is Collection Strategies Librarian at UCLA Library in Los Angeles. Megan served as a medical librarian for many years, where she developed a keen interest in the history of medicine and rare books. Megan Rosenbloom co-founded and directed of Death Salon, the event arm of The Order of the Good Death, and is a proponent of the Death Positive movement. She leads a research team called The Anthropodermic Book Project that aims to find the historic and scientific truths behind the world’s alleged books bound in human skin, or anthropodermic bibliopegy, and her bestselling debut book about this practice, titled Dark Archives: A Librarian’s Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin, was a New York Times Editors Choice and won the 2021 LAMPHHS Best Monograph Award.  Born and raised in Delco, she was a journalist in Philadelphia before moving to Los Angeles and continues to write for both academic and non-academic publications.


Please note:  

  • Proof of vaccination is required for all College events and will be checked prior to the event at the door.


  • When indoors, staff and visitors over the age of two years old are also required to wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth unless actively eating or drinking.


  • Museum admission and book purchase are not included with this event.


  • American Sign Language interpretation is available for any public program, with advance notice. Please contact Meredith Sellers msellers@collegeofphysicians.org