This is our team, aided by others along the way, who are attempting to uncover the scientific truth behind these mysterious books.
ANNA DHODY, an experienced physical and forensic anthropologist, is curator of the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and oversees the Mütter Museum’s “disturbingly informative” collection, and works to provide a unique, informative experience for its 150,000-plus annual visitors. As Director of the Mütter Institute she is also responsible for engaging and collaborating with the scientific and medical community to utilize our historic 19th century specimens for 21st century research. Anna has a Master’s in Forensic Science from George Washington University and a BA in Archaeology with an Anthropology minor from Boston University. On this team Anna has had the Mütter’s collection of anthropodermic objects verified and serves as a liaison with the museum community.
DR. DANIEL P. KIRBY has a PhD in Analytical Mass Spectrometry from Northeastern University, a MS in Bioanalytical Chemistry from Vassar College, and a BS in Analytical Chemistry from Siena College. After careers as an analytical chemist in semiconductor electronics, pharmaceuticals and academic research, in 2004 Dan turned his interests to conservation science and began investigating the use of mass spectrometry for the analysis of artists’ materials and is currently in private practice specializing in applications of mass spectrometry in art, cultural heritage, and wildlife forensics. On this team Daniel performs the peptide mass fingerprinting tests in the lab and teaches others how to conduct the same tests at their own institutions.
DR. RICHARD R. HARK holds the H. George Foster Endowed Chair in Chemistry and is currently serving as chairperson of the Department of Chemistry at Juniata College in Huntingdon, PA. Dr. Hark earned his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Chemistry from the University of Rochester. Dr. Hark’s current research efforts are principally focused on the application of analytical and imaging techniques to the study of cultural heritage objects. On this team Richard performs the tests on the books and helps identify and explain the process to potential testing institutions.
MEGAN ROSENBLOOM is the Associate Director for Collection Resources at the University of Southern California’s Norris Medical Library. Megan holds a Master’s in Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in Global Journalism with a French minor from Drexel University. As a medical librarian with an interest in the history of medicine and rare books, Megan has traveled around the world to see alleged examples of anthropodermic bibliopegy and separate the truths of their histories from the fictions. Megan is director and co-founder of Death Salon, an interdisciplinary conference and public event examining death from different cultural, historical, and artistic perspectives. On this team Megan acts as a librarian liaison to libraries interested in conducting tests and also investigates the historical backgrounds of each book.
Header photo by Scott Troyan.