Common Reading Experience
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


Rebecca Skloot


Download Schedule of public events (80 KB)

Download Classroom resource guide (9.0 MB)

Download Letter to Faculty from Provost (189 KB)

Download Flyer for convocation (235 KB)

Download Flyer for Common Reading Experience (210 KB)

Download Flyer for Essay contest (176 KB)

Download Free movie pass for documentary screening (470 KB)

Download First iteration of Common Reading Experience website (589 KB)


Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells—taken without her knowledge in 1951—became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and more. Henrietta's cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can't afford health insurance. This phenomenal New York Times bestseller tells a riveting story of the collision between ethics, race, and medicine; of scientific discovery and faith healing; and of a daughter consumed with questions about the mother she never knew.

Publication Date


Relational Format



Bioethics and Medical Ethics | Medical Genetics

Subject Headings (LCSH)

Lacks, Henrietta, 1920-1951 -- Health; Cancer -- Patients -- Virginia -- Biography; African American women -- History; Human experimentation in medicine -- United States -- History; HeLa cells; Cancer -- Research; Cell culture; Medical ethics


Link to research resource guide for The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, compiled by UM Libraries.

Additional files include:

  • Classroom resource guide created by the Center for Writing and Rhetoric
  • Schedule of public events related to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  • Letter to faculty from Provost Morris Stocks that accompanied complimentary copies of the book
  • Flyer for August Convocation (2011), where Rebecca Skloot was the featured speaker
  • Flyer for Common Read Experience 2011
  • Flyer for the 2011 Essay Contest
  • Free movie pass to the on-campus screening of Modern Times: The Way of All Flesh
  • Text from the first iteration of the website for the Common Reading Experience, devoted to the 2011 selection

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks