Papers belonging to the late Jack Kevorkian, a University alum and prominent euthanasia activist, will be donated to the Bentley Historical Library on North Campus, the University announced Tuesday.
Donated to the University by Kevorkian’s niece, Ava Janus, the documents include correspondence, published works, manuscript drafts, photos, court records, news coverage and interviews from Kevorkian’s career as a promoter of “medicide,” or assisted suicide.
The digitalized documents are available to the public, many of which contain medical histories, photos, video and audio recordings of consultations with Kevorkian’s patients.
Kevorkian, who passed away in June 2011, aided more than 130 voluntary suicides throughout his career, after which he spent eight years in prison for second-degree murder.
Born to Armenian immigrants in Pontiac, Kevorkian attended the University’s Medical School. In addition to his career in pathology and euthanasia medicine, Kevorkian was a composer, musician and scientist.
In a statement, Terrence McDonald, director of the Bentley Historical Library, said these documents will help the public learn about the motivation behind Kevorkian’s controversial career.
“The release of his papers will allow scholars and students to understand the context of and driving forces in an interesting and provocative life,” McDonald said.
Olga Virakhovskaya, Bentley’s lead archivist, recently spoke to the Society of American Archivists on the ethical considerations surrounding the Bentley Library’s decision to make these files public.
“Many of the medicide patients and their families — who remain very close to this day — are still advocates of their family member’s choice to die, so anonymity was not an issue,” Virakhovskaya said. “We felt very strongly that by not providing access to this collection and to the medicide files, we would be choosing to hide a very important story.”