Answered By: Winston Barham Last Updated: Apr 04, 2019 Views: 18
There is a persistent myth that UVA Library secretly holds a book whose binding is made of human flesh. We don't. We'd tell you if we did.
They do exist, however. Read more about anthropodermic bibliopegy and the science used to prove or disprove books purported to have human bindings.
Special Collections has many items from the medieval period, when animal skin (called vellum or parchment) was the primary material for bookmaking. In 2015, colleagues at UVA and elsewhere determined a nondestructive way to test parchment to determine its animal origin, and did so on our manuscript collection. (Surprise: none of it is human.)