Immortal Quest: The Literature of Science and Ethics

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Northwestern University Library is proud to join the campus conversation centering on this year's One Book One Northwestern selection, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.  We welcome new and returning students with an exhibit highlighting library collections and services related to the book's themes.

Items on display include:
Government documents that guide the ethical practice of research including the Belmont Report which was the original government response to the Nuremburg trials, the Tuskegee experiments and a host of other atrocities committed in the name of research (and public health).
Rare books, political pamphlets, periodicals and other underground publications  from the past half century that highlight the disparity of medical treatment for minorities and women, as well as documents from the post-World War II Nuremburg trials that brought to light the Nazi medical experimentation on humans that took place at concentration camps.
Representative selections on medical ethics in Africa from Northwestern’s world renowned Africana collection.
The Scientific American article on do-it-yourself cell growing; the first mention of Henrietta Lacks in a published article, as well as materials that continue the discussion, including articles by NU faculty using HeLa and current books related to tissue culture issues.
HazMat regulations, guidelines and manuals from 1960 to the present day that document how the transportation of medical supplies has evolved over the last fifty years, from the very casual (doctors carrying radioactive elements in coat pockets, tubes of human tissue sent through standard mail) to today.
Rare early works on cellular pathology from the Galter Health Sciences Library, including the book containing the first publication of an illustration of a cell, first seen by Antonie Van Leeuwenhoek using handcrafted microscopes, and a 17th century work by William Harvey who famously first described the circulation of blood.
Resources from the popular press, newspapers and reference works that show the progression from complete the anonymity of Henrietta Lacks when her cells were first used for research to the gradual acknowledgment of the origin of these cells.
Items in the exhibit highlight the diversity of the Northwestern University Library research collections of books, documents, journals and databases and include both tangible, physical objects and online versions available from anywhere in the world.

Library units participating in the exhibit include:
Visit the library's One Book page for more information on library programming and resources. Contact the library's One Book committee at