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Last Updated on March 29, 2024 by Robert C. Hoopes

Harvard University Takes Action to Remove Book Bound in Human Skin from Collection

Harvard University recently made headlines with the announcement of the removal of a book bound in human skin from its collection at the Houghton Library. The book in question is Arsène Houssaye’s “Des destinées de l’âme,” published in 1879 and bound in human skin by French physician Dr. Ludovic Bouland.

Dr. Bouland reportedly took the skin from an unnamed deceased female patient without consent from a French psychiatric hospital where he worked. The decision to remove the human skin binding came after a review prompted by recommendations from a 2022 report on human remains in university collections.

Scholar Paul Needham had been advocating for the removal of the human skin binding for nearly a decade and co-authored an open letter published in The Harvard Crimson. Harvard University acknowledged past failures in stewardship of the book, which was also reportedly used in a hazing ritual for student employees.

The human binding was removed in March and is currently in secure storage at Harvard Library, while consultations are being held to determine an appropriate way to lay the remains to rest. Harvard University has stated its commitment to moving forward with care, sensitivity, and ethical responsibility regarding human remains in its collections.

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This decision reflects a growing recognition of the need to address ethical concerns surrounding the treatment of human remains in academic settings. Harvard University’s handling of this situation serves as a model for other institutions to follow in addressing similar issues with sensitivity and respect.

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Stephen is an experienced writer and journalist with a focus on MBA news and MBA jobs news. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for business and education, he has established himself as a leading voice in the MBA community. Stephen's writing on MBA news and MBA jobs news can be found in a variety of publications, including online news sources and job boards. His work covers a wide range of topics, from industry trends and emerging technologies to job market statistics and career development strategies. He is known for his insightful commentary and his ability to distill complex information into clear and concise language.

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