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Harvard University Library Book Bound In Human Skin, Scientists Say [PHOTOS]

Travelers Today       By    Althea Serad

Updated: Jun 06, 2014 11:10 PM EDT

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Harvard University Library book bound in human skin may be unheard of as it certainly is not practiced now. However, according to library officials, one may encounter a Harvard University Library book bound in human skin as the library has one of their books fastened in just that - human skin.

According to Harvard researchers, their huge collection of books includes one that is very likely to be bound in human skin. The Harvard officials said that the university's conservators and scientists have already tested the book's binding. They utilized quite a lot of diverse methods in order to determine if a Harvard University Library book bound in human skin is possible.

A library official stated in a recent blog post on the website of the Houghton Library, the university's rare books library, experts were confident "99 percent" that the binding of one of the books is indeed of human flesh.

According to the Boston Globe, the origin of the Harvard University Library book bound in human skin still goes back to the 1880s in France. The book's name is "Des destinees de l'ame," and it was written by Arsene Houssaye. It was reportedly given by Houssaye to his doctor friend, Ludovic Bouland, during the mid-1880s.

Since the content of the Harvard University Library book bound in human skin is of "a meditation on the soul and life after death," the noted doctor and bibliophile had the book bound with skin from the unclaimed body of a female mental patient who died of a stroke. This was detailed by two blog posts written by Heather Cole about the book. Cole is the assistant curator of modern books and manuscripts.

According to CNN, the Harvard University Library book bound in human skin is the only known book in the library's collection to be bound in actual human skin. According to Cole's blog posts, there have been similar tests done as well to other books from the Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School libraries. However, they turned out to be bound in sheepskin.

Harvard University Library book bound in human skin, says Cole, as described by Bouland in his note found inside the book, is "A book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering."

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