Internet InfoMedia harvard apologizes for removes creepy book binding made of human skin past failures

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Harvard University announced Wednesday that it removed the human skin binding from a gruesome book in its library. 

The book, called Des destinées de l’âme, was published in the 1880s by French author Arsène Houssaye. Its name means “The destinies of the soul” in English.

The university explained that the owner of the book, Dr. Ludovic Bouland, bound the book with a deceased woman’s skin. She died in a hospital that he worked in, and did not consent to the binding.

Bouland was born in France in 1839. The identity of the woman and the year she died is unknown. Harvard is currently researching more information about the patient and Bouland, and pledges to “[give] a respectful disposition [to the remains] that seeks to restore dignity to the woman whose skin was used.”

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Split image of Harvard building and human skin book

Harvard University removed the human skin binding from a 19th century book, its library announced on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

Harvard Library has had the book in its collections since 1934, a year after Bouland died. The book had previously been made available “to anyone who asked for it,” the library said.

“In the course of its review, the library noted several ways in which its stewardship practices failed to meet the level of ethical standards to which it subscribes,” the statement by Harvard Library reads.

“Library lore suggests that decades ago, students employed to page collections in Houghton’s stacks were hazed by being asked to retrieve the book without being told it included human remains.”

Harvard also acknowledged that it had previously used the book as a sort of novelty.

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Split image of Arsène Houssaye and Harvard's Widener Library

The copy of Des destinées de l’âme, was published in the 1880s by author Arsène Houssaye (left) was given to Harvard Library. (Getty Images)

“In 2014, following the scientific analysis that confirmed the book to be bound in human skin, the library published posts on the Houghton blog that utilized a sensationalistic, morbid, and humorous tone that fueled similar international media coverage,” the statement continued.

“Harvard Library acknowledges past failures in its stewardship of the book that further objectified and compromised the dignity of the human being whose remains were used for its binding,” the library added. “We apologize to those adversely affected by these actions.”

Binding books with human skin is highly unusual, but not unheard of. The practice is called anthropodermic bibliopegy, and most of the surviving books with these covers were published in the 19th century.

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Harvard human skin book

The woman whose skin was used to bind the book did not consent, Harvard said. (Harvard Library via Reuters)

Harvard University did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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