International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy


State Records Office of Western Australia


Category Institutional Archive
Country Australia
Address Alexander Library Building, James Street West Entrance, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth WA 6000, Australia
Telephone +61 8 9427 3360
Fax +61 8 9427 3368


The State Records Office of Western Australia contain records of leprosy at Marble Bar, Derby (including separate documents on leprosy amongst the Indigenous population) and the Derby Lazarette (WAA319; WAS483 for patient records), the Bernier Island Lock Hospital (in the old Native Welfare files at Acc 255 item 987/1908), and Roebourne. A substantial collection of reports on leprosy in the north-west of Western Australia exists in this repository, including patient registers.

Colonial Secretary's Office, Medical Public Health ACC 1003, 1267/17 Title: Leprosy at Roebourne

This file contains 215 leaves, and consists of correspondence and reports from September 1911 to January 1928, being from and to Dr Maunsell, the Medical Officer at Roebourne and between officers of the Public Health, Quarantine Office, Aboriginal Protection and Police with reports to the colonial secretary; debate over where and how to detain indigenous people affected by leprosy; protest from residents of Carnarvon against the plan to make Bezout Island the place to isolate women with the disease and Delantre Island likewise for men, with a compound on the mainland to hold suspects until confirmed (instead of isolating them with confirmed cases and thus exposing them to infection); requests for reports and complaints to Public Service Department concerning Dr Maunsell’s failure to reply and his eventual dismissal; and with the final suggestion that a book be kept for permanent record of those with leprosy.

ACC 1003, 165 1916 Title: Leprosy: case at St Leonard's St Cottesloe Beach, Mrs M Golden. (General correspondence)

This file contains 73 leaves, and it covers correspondence to and from the Public Health Commissioner from March 1916 until Mrs Golden’s death and cremation in May 1918, and finally dealing with her nurse, Mrs C Motley’s leave of 119 days because she was on duty continuously from 25 th March 1816 to 7 th May 1918. This file contains details of Mrs Golden’s history, how she was born and brought up in India, as part of an English military family, mainly in Calcutta and educated in the Bengal hill stations. She was born in Calcutta in 1890, went to England from 1897-1898, and returned to Calcutta for 1898-1911. Between 1902-1906, she spent nine months each year at college in the hill stations. In 1908, at the age 18, the first signs of leprosy became apparent. She sought out medical advice in Calcutta. She married after her father’s death and lived in England, Singapore, and finally Western Australia. She was eventually diagnosed with leprosy following the birth of her child in Perth – who in turn died at 7 months. She was isolated at Wooroloo reserve, where her nurse also occupied a house. Correspondence in this file deals with the nurse’s wages, fumigation and destruction by fire of beds and bedding from the Cottesloe house, the concerns of the landlord of the house who could not get a tenant, and the purchase and transport of furniture, a piano, and music for Mrs Golden, at Wooroloo. The file also contains handwritten letters by both Mrs Golden and Nurse Motley.

Dept Public Works 1093/45, PRO Cons 689 AM 1093, 1945 Title: Woorollo Sanatorium, Erection of cottages for leprosy patients.

This file contains 25 leaves, and covers the period from 26 July 1945 to 17 December 1947. It contains letters between the Chief Architect, the Under Secretary, and the Medical Superintendent, Wooroloo, with plans of location and buildings, plan for a new building for leprosy attendants, and for conversion of the present attendants' quarters (Mr & Mrs Fraser), for examination, sterilisation, storage, and changing rooms for the doctor.

ACC 689, AN 453/34, 1804/16; 1095/45, 1934 Title: Wooroloo Sanatorium, Erection of Cottages for Leprosy Patients.

65 leaves. This file begins with authority to erect 2 small buildings for the leprosy patient from Cottesloe (the same Mrs Golden) and her nurse. This authority is given on 6 April 1916 to the Under Secretary Colonial Secretary’s Office from the Under Secretary for Works and Industries. It includes tenders, plans, estimates, and authorities etc. There is notification that the isolation building at Wooroloo is now complete (30 June 1816). Instructions that the temporary buildings previously occupied by the patient and nurse were to be destroyed by fire (18 July 1916) There is also information of a white women found in Perth suffering from leprosy, and requests to the Minister of Public Health from the commissioner of Public Health, Dr Everett Atkinson, for a new brick cottage to house both male (existing) and female patients. This was approved 9 April 1934. There are also contracts and estimates for this and other building additions, as well as records of maintenance of the Wooroloo sanatorium up to 1938.

ACC 1003, 92, 1910 Title: Leprosy in Western Australia. (Annual form from NSW)

This file consists of about 40 leaves, un-numbered, including requests from the Dept of Public Health, New South Wales, Sydney, to Dr Hope, Dept. of Public Health Perth for an account of leprosy cases for the years 1894-1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910 and 1911. There are some reports of patients included. There are extracts from minutes of the meeting of the Executive Council, 17 Aug 1889 ( under the public health act 1886) which list notifiable diseases such as cholera, smallpox, typhus, typhoid, scarlet and other infectious and contagious fevers and leprosy. This was approved on 19 August by Governor F. Napier Broome. There is also provision for setting apart a place for the reception and medical treatment of lepers. (Order in Council, 3 September 1902)

ACC 1003, 740, 1903 Title: Leprosy Case at Marble Bar.

This relates to correspondence from 30 June 1903 to 11 September 1905 regarding a "Manilaman" – reported with leprosy at Marble Bar and how to deal with him – about attempt to get Singapore and/or Sydney to agree to take him and their refusal and insistence that Western Australia should pay. The patient died on 20 August 1905, and the account for costs was sent to the Secretary of the Central Board Health Acting Medical Officer, Marble Bar, 11 September 1905.

ACC 1003, 579, 1908 Title: Derby, Leprosy (A H Chong)

(About 30 leaves, un-numbered) This report includes documents relating to the suitability of the old gaol as a lazaret (3 April 1908); the authority for the cremation of Ah Chong (7 April 1908); protests from the Derby Progress League, to the Under Secretary from Principal Medical Officer, seeking reassurances about the risk of infection with reference to detaining an indigenous person with leprosy in the same place occupied by the deceased Chinese leper Ah Chong. (12 May 1908); a Derby police report concerning the cremated remains and burning of property and all utensils used by AH Chong.

ACC 1003, 140, 1908 Title: Leprosy amongst natives

This file includes "Notifications of infectious diseases"; from the Principal Medical Officer to the Secretary of the Central Board of Health (29 August 1908); reported cases of leprosy amongst the natives in Derby ( Cygnet Bay). (20 January 1908) (9 leaves); a map of Derby showing the site of the Gaol and the Hospital; a letter from Dr Curtis Derby to the Principal Medical Officer, Perth, concerning the visit to the Aborigines at Cygnet Bay and Sunday Island. The doctor reports that Father Nicholas Maria had gathered most of the sick, blind and infirm Indigenous people – about 45 men and 50 women – and supplied them with rations and some nursing. One man and one woman with advanced leprosy were among these. (“Their arms are almost dropping off”) [sic] Dr Curtis Derby recommended that more assistance and a larger subsidy should be given to Father Nicholas.

ACC 2790 Item Number 1906/19 Years 1902-1916 Title: Leprosy - Supposed Case, P. N. Wai

This file contains one page, and is a letter dated 6 th February 1906, sent from the local Board of Health, Fremantle, reporting that the Inspector, Mr Wilkinson, suspected that a Chinese man employed by the Market Gardener, P N Wai, was suffering from leprosy. He had been seen by the caretaker of the Fremantle Markets (Mr W McKay) and had subsequently been reported to Mr Wilkinson. This matter had also been reported to the Inspector of Police who had already sent a mounted constable to enquire. (Signed by Mr F. G. Eaton, Secretary, Fremantle Roads Board and Local Board of Health.)

Restricted files allow access after 75 years or by application to the Archivist, Public Health Department under the Freedom of Information Act, fees apply.

  • ITEM-1906/19 Leprosy, Supposed case - P.N. Wai 6 Feb 1906.
  • ITEM-1934/0453 Wooroloo Sanatorium - erection of cottages for Leprosy patients
  • ITEM-1945/1093 Wooroloo Sanatorium - extension of cottages for leprosy partents
  • ITEM-1903/0740 Port Hedland - Leprosy - case at Marble Bar
  • ITEM-1908/0140 Derby - Leprosy amongst natives
  • ITEM-1908/0579 Derby - Leprosy (A. H Chong)
  • ITEM-1910/0092 Leprosy in WA - Annual from NSW - forwarding
  • ITEM-1916/0658 Leprosy - case at St Leonard's Street, Cottesloe Beach (Mrs T.A. Golden) - general correspondence
  • ITEM-1917/1262 Leprosy at Roebourne
  • ITEM-1921/6708 Leprosy at Derby.
  • ITEM-1923/1765 Leprosy in the North West
  • ITEM-1924/1210 British Empire Leprosy Relief Association - Appeal for Funds
  • ITEM-1925/0630 Leprosy in North West
  • ITEM-1927/0360 Leprosy in North-West
  • ITEM-1928/0731 Leprosy in the North-West
  • ITEM-1929/1407 Leprosy in the North-West
  • ITEM-1932/0079 Leprosy in the North West
  • ITEM-1933/0472 Leprosy - case of John Wightman
  • ITEM-1933/0907 Leprosy
  • ITEM-1933/1163 Leprosy (missing)
  • ITEM-1934/0116 Leprosy - summary of incidence in North-West and transfer of cases to Darwin
  • ITEM-1934/0584 Leprosy - transfer of cases to the Leprosarium at Darwin - arrangements in transport, etc
  • ITEM-1934/0608 Leprosy in the North-West
  • ITEM-1934/0683 Leprosy - case of Mrs E Hanks
  • ITEM-1935/0154 Leprosy - transfer of cases to the Leprosarium at Darwin - Arrangements re transport etc
  • ITEM-1935/0251 Derby Lazarette - establishment of
  • ITEM-1935/0732 Leprosy in the North-West
  • ITEM-1936/0632 Leprosy
  • ITEM-1936/0646 Leprosy - case of Florrie Mould (quarter-caste)
  • ITEM-1937/0257 Leprosy - Commonwealth assistance to permit of extension of the survey and examination of Aborigines
  • ITEM-1937/0258 Leprosy
  • ITEM-1937/0698 Leprosy - periodical examination of family contacts - information re
  • ITEM-1938/0762 Leprosy - case of Alexander Robert Thompson
  • ITEM-1939/0540 Leprosy
  • ITEM-1940/0323 Infectious diseases - Leprosy - Dr Musso's Journal
  • ITEM-1940/0390 Leprosy - Derby Lazarette - establishments of
  • ITEM-1940/0710 Leprosy in the North-West
  • ITEM-1940/0956 Leprosy - case of George Roe or Rowe
  • ITEM-1940/0973 Infectious diseases - leprosy - medical examination of natives travelling from leprosy areas
  • ITEM-1941/0248 Leprosy - case of Alex Parsons at Wymba
  • ITEM-1942/0906 Leprosy - case of Frederick William Redfern
  • ITEM-1943/0331 Leprosy in the North West
  • ITEM-1943/1152 Leprosy - case of Henry Bannan. Derby
  • ITEM-1944/0227 Health - Leprosy. Case of Junie (Full Blood)
  • ITEM-1944/0843 Health - Leprosy - Treatment by use of Penicillin at Derby Leprosarium
  • ITEM-1945/0326 Leprosy - Appointment of Consultant Specialist to Wooroloo Lazarette
  • ITEM-1945/0332 Leprosy - Annual Report
  • ITEM-1945/1223 Leprosy in the North-West
  • ITEM-1945/1337 Leprosy - Case of Mrs WL Miles
  • ITEM-1947/0982 Leprosy - case of Mrs Tom Forrest
  • ITEM-1949/0247 Leprosy - case of Brother Paul of Pallotine Order
  • ITEM-1949/0248 Leprosy - Agnes and Philomena Puertollano - correspondence re
  • ITEM-1949/0435 Leprosy - case of Gregory Howard
  • ITEM-1949/0437 Leprosy - Maintenance of cases at Darwin Leprosarium by Commonwealth - Payment for
  • ITEM-1949/0929 Leprosy White Patients in Isolation (1) Amenities for, and assistance on discharge (2) Financial assistance to dependants
  • ITEM-1949/0962 Leprosy - Case of Mary Clarke
  • ITEM-1949/0971 Leprosy - Period Examinations of Family and Contacts of Mary Clarke
  • ITEM-1949/1391 Leprosy - case of Reginald John Crisp
  • ITEM-1949/1537 Leprosy in the North West
  • ITEM-1949/1603 Diseases - Leprosy - Contacts of Brother Paul and Brother Frank
  • ITEM-1949/1609 Leprosy - Mrs Margaret Skiosaki - Suspected Contact
  • ITEM-1950/0731 Leprosy - Wooroloo Lazaret - Accommodation of cases from other States
  • ITEM-1951/0073 Diseases - Recommended Standards of Control in Leprosy
  • ITEM-1951/1298 Health - Cross Immunity between leprosy and Tuberculosis - correspondence re
  • ITEM-1952/0696 Diseases - leprosy - suggestions re treatment of
  • ITEM-1953/1201 Diseases - Leprosy Research and Hookworm survey by Mr J Fielding
  • ITEM-1955/0722 Diseases - Leprosy - suggestions re treatment of
  • ITEM-1956/0860 Conference on Leprosy Management, Sydney 14 September
  • ITEM-1957/0125 Diseases - Leprosy - suggestions re treatment of
  • ITEM-1957/0184 Leprosy - Miscellaneous Correspondence
  • ITEM-1957/0449 Leprosy - survey of Kimberley District 1957 (Dr Burns)

Manuscripts and Taped Interviews

Daly, M. Alphonsus (Mary Alphonsus 1893-1980).Healing Hands: Memories and Milestones of the Derby Leprosarium, where the Sisters of St John of God ProvidedNursing Care”, Kimberly Mission, 1980

This is a spiral bound photocopy of a document produced in Derby. Sister Daly gives an overview of the history and adds human stories of individuals who lived with the disease. She tells how “the task of the church proceeded on many fronts” at L. Grange Mission, Broome, Beagle Bay, Lombadina, Derby, Fitzroy Crossing, Halls’ Creek, Balgo Mission, Kunumurra and Wyndham, the Benedictine Mission at Kalumbura in North West Kimberly and Balgo Mission.

Healy, Jeanne O, “The History of Leprosy within Western Australia from 1889 to the opening of the Derby Leprosarium in 1931” (unpublished thesis) Mt Lawly Teachers’ College, 1974

Peebles, Libby, “The Roles of Prejudice, Racism and Isolationism in the Treatment of Leprosy in Western Australia between 1890 and 1940.”47 leaves,typescript, Public History Project (S410) Q614.546 PEE. (Request) Research essay approx. 10,000 words.

Peurtollano, Theresa. “Interview with Theresa Puertollano” – sound recording – (interview by Christine Choo) 1992. (restricted) 1 sound cassette In this interview Puertollano tells of her family background, her diagnosis as a sufferer of Hansen’s Disease, life in the Darwin and the Derby Leprosarium, and life in Broome in the 1920s. Battye OH2695/34 A/m and S/m

Entry made May 2005


Name Archivist
Organization State Records Office of Western Australia
Address State Records Office of Western Australia, Alexander Library Building, James Street West Entrance, Perth Cultural Centre, Perth WA 6000, Australia.
Telephone +61 8 9427 3360
Fax +61 8 9427 3368

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