Preservation of human scalp

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    • #5169

      I know this sounds gruesome–but Omaha Public Library is in possession of a human scalp (with hair attached) that was removed from its owner, a Union Pacific Railroad worker, during a Cheyenne attack in 1867. He survived and managed to retrieve his scalp, but it could not be reattached and he eventually gave it to the doctor who treated him, who, in turn, donated it to Omaha Public Library in 1900 (this would definitely not fit our collection policy nowadays…).

      It has been stored in an archival box, lightly swathed with, I think, unbuffered acid-free tissue paper and a blackish-grayish cone of something, not sure what….(this was not covered in library school!).

      My question is: should the tissue paper and/or the cone of whatever be changed from time to time? We seem to have no documentation on this, or how or when some past staff member decided how to store this unusual item. We keep it in our archival storage room and only bring it out at the request of researchers, or occasionally for some special event.



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