Harvard removes human skin binding from rare book in library

Harvard removes human skin binding from rare book in library


Harvard University officials announced the removal of the human skin binding from a rare book in the school’s Houghton Library.

The work, Arsène Houssaye’s Des destinées de l’âme, or The Destiny of Souls in English, was first owned by French physician and bibliophile Dr. Ludovic Bouland, who declared, “A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering.”

Bouland took the skin used to bind the book without consent from a female patient who died in the hospital where he worked, according to a release from the Harvard Library.

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“The book has been in the collections of Harvard Library since 1934, initially placed on deposit by John B. Stetson, Jr. (1884–1952), an American diplomat, businessman, and Harvard alumnus (AB 1906), and later through donation by

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