Michigan’s Poisonous History

The University of Michigan is known for its unusual and unique collections within its archives, but did you know that some of the artifacts are even deadly?  The Buhr book storage facility holds a book called “Shadows from the Walls of Death” that does not contain any words at all.  In fact, the book created by UM alum Robert Kedzie, is made up of wallpaper from the late 1800s.  What makes this book so special?  Within its pages, the book possesses deadly amount of arsenic.

Arsenic-free wallpaper advertised by Ypsilanti druggist.

From the Ann Arbor Chronicle:

A second-floor shelf of University of Michigan’s Buhr book storage facility contains Michigan’s single most dangerous book.

It is one of only two known copies to exist in the state. If not for its historical importance, even the most fervent bibliophile might agree: the fewer copies in the world the better.

“Shadows from the Walls of Death” is dangerous not in the sense of a book containing radical ideas. Nor is it dangerous in the way a bomb-building manual might be. In fact, after the title page and preface, the following 86 pages, each one measuring about 22 by 30 inches, contain no printed words at all.

Michigan State University holds the other copy of “Shadows” in its Special Collections library division. The volume is sealed in a protective container, and each page is individually encapsulated…

Read entire story here.

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