International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

The Sisters of St. Vincent Du Paul, the first nursing staff at the hospital in Carville, in 1896. (Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/175years/index.ssf/2012/08/our_times_carville_leprosarium.html)

Daughters of Charity

The Sisters of St. Vincent Du Paul, the first nursing staff at the hospital in Carville, in 1896. (Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/175years/index.ssf/2012/08/our_times_carville_leprosarium.html)

The Sisters of St. Vincent Du Paul, the first nursing staff at the hospital in Carville, in 1896. (Times-Picayune)

The Daughters of Charity Provincial Archives in Emmitsburg, Maryland, USA holds the Records of the National Hansen’s Disease Programs, Carville, Louisiana (Record Group 11-2). This collection consists of correspondence, publications, photographs, and newspaper clippings compiled by the Daughters of Charity to document their work at Carville. The collection is especially strong in documenting the everyday life of the patients.

The collection includes extensive correspondence and diaries from the Daughters of Charity, but does not include medical records, nor does it include official correspondence of the Medical Officers in Charge. It includes documents grouped under the following categories: History, 1902-2005, Administration, 1896-1999, Correspondence of the Sister Superiors (Sister Servants), 1896-1940, Financial Data, 1896-1984 (bulk: 1930s and 1960s), Publications, ca. 1920-2004, Newspaper clippings, 1890s-2001, Magazine articles, 1934-1999, Personnel, 1922-2002, Carville Chapel Society Records, 1931-1968, Daughter of Charity Documents, 1936-1996, and the Closing of Mission, 2005.

Of particular interest are the “Annals of Carville, 1934-1987” in which diaries kept by the Daughters of Charity who were in residence at Carville can be found. For the years 1934-1962, the annals were typed accounts of day-to-day activities prepared by the Sisters. From 1962-1987, the annals are compilations of articles from The Star and news clippings. Arranged chronologically.

Also of interest is the collection “Patients and patient life, 1920-2002” which contains correspondence, photographs, and news stories, and obituaries documenting individual patients; photographs and programs documenting patient activities. Patients, arranged alphabetically by last name, include the following: Nancy Bautista, John Bell, Louis Boudreaux,  Zella Berry Brown, James Cornelius, Mary Ruth Daigle/W.L. Daigle (W.L. Daigle aka Darryl Broussard), Delfina Demeritt, John Early, Jose Evangelista, Nick Farrel, Humberto Glacies (aka Buddy Glacies/Buddy Negron/Humberto Negron), Josephine Guerrero (“Joey”), Johnny P. Harmon, Tad Higa, Hans and Gertrude Hornbostel, The Landry Family, Betty and Harry Martin, Evangelina Martinez, Clarence E. Olmsted, Lilla Palmer, Joe Ruano, Stanley Stein, Charles Stiney, and Tom Storm. (Bulk dates: 1980s and 1990s)

Some of the first patients at Carville, with nursing staff, in the 1890s. (Times-Picayune: http://www.nola.com/175years/index.ssf/2012/08/our_times_carville_leprosarium.html)

Some of the first patients at Carville, with nursing staff, in the 1890s. (Times-Picayune)

Patient Life, arranged alphabetically by subject, consists of photographs and programs documenting patient activities. Includes: patients’ school, recreational and social activities, sports teams, musical programs, Christmas programs, and Mardi Gras celebrations (Bulk dates: 1930s through 1960s).

Note concerning patient names. The majority of patients at Carville took aliases when they entered the facility. This was a common practice aimed at reducing the social stigma of leprosy for the patients’ families. Many patients retained their Carville name throughout their life. However, some patients went back to their real names in later years. Real names are used in cases where the patients didn’t take an alias or went back to their real name at some point in their lives. In cases where patients did not want their real names revealed, the patients’ wishes have been respected and aliases have been retained.