Book Special Features
Below you will find a slide show of bonus photos related to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks not included in the book’s photo insert. Hover your mouse over each image to see the photo’s caption below.
Also: for newly released archival photos of Crownsville State Hospital (formerly known as “The Hospital for The Negro Insane”), where Henrietta’s daughter was institutionalized until her death at age 15, visit the Baltimore Sun’s Crownsville Archives, for a slideshow and more information. And visit The Bowie State Scholars Studio and click on the “Crownsville” link for additional history and photos.
Watch a trailer of The Immortal Book Tour, in which Rebecca Skloot talks about her book and the Lacks family joins her in public appearances discussing the legacy of Henrietta Lacks, their feelings about The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and more.
Rebecca Skloot discusses a key (if unorthodox) moment in her book reporting process that helped her win Deborah Lacks’s trust. Hint: It involves being bitten by dozens of ticks and bathing in salad dressing.
See archival footage of HeLa cells growing in a laboratory in the ’50s.
HeLa Cells Dividing (with on-screen captions from the scientist who created this YouTube video): HeLa cells dividing over 27 hours. Cells round up, grow hair, and then divide.
Rebecca Skloot wrote The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks using a braided story structure that jumps around between multiple time periods and multiple narratives. In the video below, Skloot explains how she worked out the book’s structure with the help of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe and Hurricane, the film about Hurricane Carter the boxer.
You can also watch the BBC documentary, The Way of All Flesh, which Skloot discusses in several chapters of her book. (Link opens to new window.)
Please visit the Teaching page of this site for more resources related to The Immortal Life, including a timeline and cast of characters, discussions with Rebecca Skloot, additional photos and video footage, and more. For book groups interested in discussion guides and other book group related resources, please visit the Reading Groups page of this site. And see Rebecca’s detailed Frequently Asked Questions page, for extensive information on The Immortal Life, her writing process, what she’s doing now, updates on the Lacks family, and more.
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The Henrietta Lacks Foundation strives to provide financial assistance to needy individuals who have made important contributions to scientific research without their knowledge or consent.