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A Book Bound in Human Skin

Harvard University reports that it has a book published in the 1880s which is bound in human skin.  Strange?  Absolutely.  Illegal?  Possibly. 

Massachusetts General Law 272 section 72 states that:

Whoever buys or sells, or has in his possession for the purpose of buying, selling or trafficking in, the dead body of a human being shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than two and one half years.

Is the skin of a person who has been deceased for 140 years a "dead body of a human being?"  The statute has been a part of Massachusetts law since 1855, but there are no reported appellate cases which interpret it.

Tanya Marsh

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