Acres of Skin

Acres of Skin
Author Allen M. Hornblum
Subject Experimentation on prisoners
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Routledge
Publication date
ISBN 0-415-91990-8

Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison is a 1998 book by Allen Hornblum. The book documents clinical non-therapeutic medical experiments on prison inmates at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia from 1951 to 1974, conducted under the direction of dermatologist Albert Kligman.[1] The title of the book is a reference to Kligman's reaction on seeing hundreds of prisoners when he entered the prison: "All I saw before me were acres of skin" ... "It was like a farmer seeing a fertile field for the first time".[2]

The book discusses issues surrounding the inadequate consent procedures of the 1950s and 1960s when using prisoners. Prisoners, attracted by the compensation, were angry when two of the experiments participants testified before Congress.[3]

The publication of Acres of Skin in 1998 attracted considerable international media interest.[2] The book has been reviewed in several journals including the International Journal of Dermatology,[4] Social History of Medicine[5] and Canadian Journal of History.[1][6][7][8]

See also


  1. 1 2 Theresa Richardson. Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison (Review) Canadian Journal of History, April 1, 2001.
  2. 1 2 Hornblum, Allen (2007). Sentenced to Science: One Black Man's Story of Imprisonment in America. The Pennsylvania State University Press. pp. ix, 52.
  3. Hilberman, Mark (1999). "Acres of Skin". Journal of Medical Ethics: 353–354.
  4. Jeanine Millikan. Book Review: Acres of Skin International Journal of Dermatology, 38(2): 158, February 1999.
  5. T.W. Laqueur. Book Review: Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison Social History of Medicine, Volume 16, Number 1, April 2003 , pp. 159-161.
  6. Democracry Now. Holmesburg Prison news segment, Aug. 1, 2000
  7. Hornblum, A. M. "Ethical Lapses in Dermatologic "Research"." Arch Dermatol 135, no. 4 (Apr 1999): 383-5 PMID 10206044
  8. Weyers W. Medical experiments on humans and the development of guidelines governing them: the central role of dermatology. Clin Dermatol. 2009 Jul-Aug;27(4):384-94. PMID 19539167
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