The public will now be able to study and contemplate the ethical questions surrounding Jack Kevorkian, MD’52, who was best known for his advocacy of physician-assisted suicide and terminally ill patients’ “right to die.”
In October, Kevorkian’s niece, Ava Janus, donated the collection of his materials, which span from 1911 to 2014, to U-M’s Bentley Historical Library. The collection includes correspondence, published works, manuscript drafts, photographs, court records, news coverage, and interviews. The materials also contain video and audio recordings related to “medicide” — a term Kevorkian used to refer to the assisted suicides of more than 100 terminally ill people to whom he provided services between 1990 and 1998. In these videos, patients discuss the history of their illnesses, their current quality of life, and the reasons they decided to end their lives.
“Long before Jack Kevorkian was known as ‘Dr. Death,’ he was a child of Armenian immigrants, a successful student, a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, a musician, composer, and scientist,” said Terrence McDonald, director of the Bentley. “The release of his papers will allow scholars and students to understand the context of and driving forces in an interesting and provocative life.”
Kevorkian died in 2011 at the age of 83, four years after being released from prison in exchange for agreeing to end his medicide practice.