International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    National Library of Medicine


    Category Institutional Archive
    Country USA
    Address History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Bldg 38, 1E21, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA
    Telephone (301) 496-5405
    Fax (301) 402-0872


    The United States National Library of Medicine has several noteworthy collections that contain materials relevant to leprosy. Many of these collections have their own finding aid detailing and describing the records.

    One such collection, the Public Health Service Hospitals Historical Collection, 1895-1982, contains extensive material on the leprosarium at Carville, Louisiana, as a separate series within this collection, spanning the years 1917-1982. The Carville facility existed as a leprosy hospital for over two decades before its administration was assumed by the Public Health Service in 1921. The materials found here were collected by the Division of Hospitals' Information Office and stress Carville's unique legacy and service. A finding aid for the collection can be accessed here.

    Call Number: MS C 471
    DNLM: MS C 471
    Record Number: MDHM92-A9

    At once a PHS hospital, a small community, and a centre for research, the Carville Hansen's Disease Center is one of the most unusual facilities operated by the PHS. The materials in this series reflect that diversity with press releases, news clippings, photographs, and correspondence, most of which were collected by the DOH Information Office. Especially prominent are correspondence and reports discussing "The Star", a magazine produced by Carville patients with worldwide circulation, and the magazine's founder and longtime editor, Stanley Stein. Also of note are correspondence and press materials chronicling the 1971 transmission of leprosy to armadillos by Drs. Waldemar Kirchheimer and Eleanor Storrs, and the professional difficulties that sprang up between the researchers soon afterwards. Finally, copies of Carville administrative correspondence from 1946-1969 add to the series' portrayal of day-to-day administration and patient life at Carville.

    Hospital, 1917-1981
    Box 11

    Folder 1: Establishment—Correspondence, etc. (1917-20; 1956)

    Folder includes excerpt from ‘An Act to Provide for Care and Treatment of Persons Afflicted with Leprosy and to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy in the United States’; correspondence related to construction of leprosarium (1919); buildings suggested for the leprosarium; inspections and transactions relative to Carville Leprosarium; contract regarding purchase of land for Carville (1956).

    Folder 2: Photographs

    Black and white photographs, some negatives and photocopies. Some photos are unmarked, others include the following: Dr. Waldemar Kirchheimer and Dr. John Trautman (with armadillo); The Infirmary at the USPHS Hospital—Carville; Aerial view of Carville hospital; Division Director visits Carville; volunteer workers (DAVA) and Editor of the Star; Christmas party for handicapped patients; High school commencement exercises at Carville; Dr. W.F. Kirchheimer examining an armadillo used in Hansen’s disease transmission studies; occupational therapy demonstration.

    Folder 3: Booklets, Pamphlets, Guides (1945-60)

    Small folder of pamphlets, including U.S. Public Health Service pamphlets on Leprosy (1945) and Hansen’s Disease (1949); Introducing you to Carville; “Unfounded Fears”—American Leprosy Missions, Inc.; Visitor’s Guide—Carville; Carville, U.S.A. (large booklet featuring photographs from Carville showing doctors at work, patients, services, and community activities; Handbook for Patients—Carville (July 1960).

    History, 1917-1980

    Folder 4: History—Histories and Descriptions (1939-1979)

    Includes various published and unpublished type-script accounts of Carville:

    • "History of the Louisiana Leper Home"
    • "The Legacy of a Louisiana Sugar Plantation" by Charles Calandro. Includes some interior photographs.
    • "The U.S. Marine Hospital (National Leprosarium, Carville)" by H.E. Hasseltine; review of activities, 1939.
    • Public Health Reports, vol. 57, no. 18 (May 1, 1942), ‘The Story of the National Leprosarium’ by G.H. Faget.
    • History of Leprosy in Louisiana by William H. Meyer (1955).
    • Field Trip—Carville, Louisiana (Mamie L. Mizen, Senate Committee on Appropriations, 1960).
    • "The History and Development of the National Leprosarium in the U.S". by Carl D. Enna and Charles F. Byrd, from International Surgery, Section II, October 1969.
    • "Notes on the History of Leprosy in Louisiana", Zachary Gussow, Southern Medical Journal, vol. 72, no. 5 (May 1979), pp. 600-604.

    Folder 5: History—John Smith Kendall (1939-1980)

    Thick folder containing published articles and type-script accounts. Folder includes: article entitled "Useful Citizens—John Smith Kendall" by Tinette Lichtenstein, 1939; other articles about or by Professor Kendall including "How I started a hospital" and "The Fossil" (1959); Type-script "Chronology of John Smith Kendall" (1874-1965); some correspondence related to publishing materials about Kendall; correspondence from/related to The Star patient newspaper; handwritten notes related to Kendall; photographs of Kendall, patients at Carville, original buildings at Carville, and the original Indian Camp Plantation.

    Folder 6: History—Nursing Staff, 1962

    One document only, 13 pg. Report "History and Functions of the Nursing Section"

    Folder 7: Articles, clippings, 1948-1981

    Folder includes various articles, including

    • "Sulfones in Hansen’s Disease", What’s New, published by Abbott Labs, November 1948.
    • Norma Lee Browning, "Life at Carville", Chicago Sunday Tribune, February 25, 1951.
    • Robert C. Ruark, "Leprosy: The Old Shame Banished", Esquire, April 1951.
    • Booklet published by TransGas (Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation) which includes an article on Carville, 1963.
    • Lawrence G. Blochman, "Let’s Remove the Stigma from 'Leprosy'", Today’s Health, January 1965.

    The Star

    Folder 8: The Star—Stanley Stein & editorship (194?-1955)

    Thick folder with typescript notes, reports and correspondence related to the patient newspaper. Correspondence related to the need to educate the public about Hansen’s disease in the form of a national public relations campaign (circa 1948). Also includes other correspondence of editor, Stanley Stein and financial statements of The Star.

    Folder 9: The Star—Stanley Stein & editorship (1956-1967)

    Thick file of correspondence related to The Star. Typescript report ‘On the Twentieth Anniversary of The Star’. Article on Stein, ‘Carville’s Crusader’ published in Dixie, June 16, 1963; excerpts from the 20 th anniversary issue of The Star.

    Folder 10: The Star—issues.

    Copies of the newspaper from 1946 and 1947; special edition for the 60 th anniversary of the hospital at Carville; copies from 1960, 1966 and 1971.

    Folder 11: The Star—reprinted articles (1947-1960)

    Small file of reprints with articles by G.H. Faget; Carl Elder; R.G. Cochrane; Rolla R. Wolcott; George L. Fite and Frederick C. Lendrum.

    Folder 12: Print shop and printing equipment (1947-1949; 1961)

    Correspondence and memoranda related to procurement of equipment.

    Folder 13: Station bulletins (1981)

    Small folder with newsletters from Carville (3 total).

    Folder 14: Chaplaincy and churches (1924-1930; 1955-1962)

    Correspondence from/related to the American Mission to Lepers; equipment donations; financial support; supervisory role of chaplains; status and employment of chaplains; recruitment and staffing.

    Folder 15: Rehabilitation and recreation (1960-1961)

    Typescript report by a Nursing Officer on recreation at Carville; copy of a WHO Technical Report, "Scientific Meeting on Rehabilitation in Leprosy", No. 221, 1961; various memoranda on recreation.

    Folder 16: Frederick Johansen, Carville, MOC (1947-1953)

    Typescript chapter by Johansen, "Leprosy", from Textbook of Medicine; memoranda regarding Johansen’s retirement.

    Folder 17: Sister Hilary Ross—Carville Laboratory (1959-1960)

    Small folder regarding personnel issues at the laboratory; problems related to the employment of Hilary Ross.

    Folder 18: Sister Laura Stricker—Carville Chief Pharmacist (1932-1972)

    Photographs (2), including 8x10 of Sr. Stricker; memoranda regarding personnel; article on Sr. Stricker from the Washington Star newspaper, April 12, 1966.

    Folder 19: Sisters of Charity—HEW Service Award (1957)

    Memoranda regarding service of Sisters of Charity; articles regarding a government award for "Nuns Caring for Lepers"; awards ceremony booklet; 4 photographs.

    Folder 20: Untitled

    Photographs; armadillo and immunology research.

    Box 12
    Damien-Dutton Awards, 1956-1965

    Folder 1: Damien Dutton Awards—Ceremonies & Recipients (1956-65)

    Large folder; correspondence related to the Damien-Dutton Society; award to Hilary Ross; news clippings; photograph (8x10) of Dr. Robert Cochrane; Cochrane C.V.; list of awardees; booklet on the Damien-Dutton Society; memoranda regarding awards ceremonies; ceremony guest lists.

    Folder 2: Damient-Dutton Awards—1964 Ceremony Photographs

    8x10 black & white photographs with descriptions on the backs, includes; ceremony; speakers; award recipients; patients.

    Folder 3: Films (1952-1962)

    Production notes, plans and memoranda related to film about Carville under the tentative title, "Lively Town". Draft copy of script noting tentative titles "A Door to Open" and "Vigil" memoranda from Pan-American Films, New Orleans; memoranda concerning criticisms of script; copy of shooting-script with the working title "The Carville Story" (1959); certificate from 1960 American film festival regarding film "Recognition of Leprosy" memoranda (1962) regarding film "No Bells at Carville".

    Publicity and Media Coverage, 1964; 1970-1981

    Folder 4: Publicity and Media Coverage, correspondence (1964-1972)

    Press releases regarding award to Robert Cochrane; booklet regarding Golden Jubilee Ceremony, 1921-1971; press clippings regarding Carville Jubilee; memoranda regarding 30 year anniversary of The Star.

    Folder 5: Publicity and Media Coverage, correspondence (1973-76)

    Folder includes 8x10 photographs of land around Carville during a snow; news clippings regarding Carville and the diminishing stigma associated with leprosy; memoranda regarding seminars; Department of Health memoranda; photograph of nursing and medical staff; memoranda on World Leprosy Day.

    Folder 6: Publicity and Media Coverage, correspondence (1977-78)

    Folder includes photograph of Robert Rolfsen, Financial Manager at Carville; memoranda on publication on Carville; seminars; commendation letters; photographs of Dr. John Trautman, Carville Director; photograph of Thomas McPoil examining a patient; draft of slide presentation on “The History and Present Day Management of Leprosy” by Carl Enna, M.D.; letters regarding the use of the term “leper” (1978); draft of slide presentation, “A Correlation of Bone Absorption in Leprosy to Secondary Deformities of the Hand,” Carl Enna.

    Folder 7: Publicity and Media Coverage, correspondence (1979-81)

    Folder includes news releases; notices about publicity; staff photographs; PHS Director’s visit; recreation program, 1980; descriptions of celebrations (Cajun Day, Arts & Crafts, parades); various photographs.

    Hospital Policies

    Folder 8: Hospital policies—Policy and Procedure Manual (to 1947)

    Folder consists of a copy of the policy manual

    Folder 9: Hospital policies—PHS policies on leprosy (1950)

    Meetings memoranda and minutes.

    Patient Cottages

    Folder 10: Hospital policies—patient cottages, correspondence (1953-59)

    Memoranda and correspondence related to buildings, operation of hospital; press clippings on demolition of patient cottages; lists regarding cottage ownership; correspondence with Senators; press regarding the removal of Dr. Gordon; lists regarding property of patients.

    Folder 11: Hospital policies—patient cottages, photographs (1953)

    Stack of 5x7 photographs of interior and exterior views of patient cottages

    Folder 12: Hospital policies—patient passes (1954; 1960)

    Copy of report describing the development of passes for Carville patients; policies regarding ‘temporary parole’ and incidences of patients leaving the hospital without permission; copy of pass policy, 1960.

    Folder 13: Hospital policies—mail sterilization (1958)

    Letters regarding the practice of sterilizing mail from patients and attempts to terminate the practice; memoranda to the Postmaster-General from the Surgeon General, 1958.

    Box 13
    Research, 1926-1975

    Folder 1 – Research reprints, 1926-44

    File includes; reprints from Public Health Reports, Archives of Dermatology and Syphilogy, International Journal of Leprosy, American Review of Tuberculous, Texas State Journal of Medicine, Radiology.

    Folder 2 – Research reprints, 1945-1964

    Reprints from Public Health Reports, International Journal of Leprosy, New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, Tropical Medicine News, Medical Woman’s Journal, Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Nursing, Physical Therapy Review.

    Folder 3 – Research, Interbureau Advisory Committee on Leprosy and "Progress and Potentials" conferences, 1956-1959

    File includes; typescript minutes from the First Conference, Progress and Potentials in Leprosy Investigations, January 10-11, 1956 in Carville, LA; published conference report; program for 2 nd Progress and Potentials conference, March 4-6, 1958; memoranda regarding Interbureau Advisory Committee on Leprosy.

    Folder 4 – Research, Mice, 1963

    Thin folder includes press release regarding vaccine and drugs research using mice; article from Washington Post on drugs research.

    Folder 5 – Research, U.S. – Japan Cooperative Medical Science Program, 1965-66

    File includes; White House press release regarding U.S./Japan cooperation; Public Health Service documents regarding members of panel and meetings; correspondence regarding cooperative; summary statement of the cooperative.

    Kirchheimer and Armadillos, 1969-1975

    Folder 6 – Research, Kirchheimer and armadillos, correspondence/clippings, 1969,1971

    Thick file includes; correspondence and reports regarding role of arthropods in the transmission of leprosy; copy of research proposal; news clippings regarding breakthroughs in research and use of armadillos.

    Folder 7 – Research, Kirchheimer and armadillos, correspondence, 1973-75

    Thick folder includes news clippings regarding research and role of armadillos; memoranda regarding press briefings, grant applications and funding; copies of grant proposals to the National Institutes of Health.

    Press Conference, August 1971

    Folder 8 – Research, Kirchheimer and armadillos, press conference, photographs, 1971

    Black and white photos of press conference.

    Folder 9 – Research, Kirchheimer and armadillos, press conference, publicity folder, 1971

    Material from the Office of Information of the Federal Health Service. Includes photographs of researchers, armadillos and patients from Ethiopia, India and Tanzania (American Leprosy Missions). Aerial photograph of Carville hospital compound; photographs showing patient’s condition getting worse after treatment with Dapsone and improvement after therapy with B.663 (Lamprene); numerous articles and reprints regarding leprosy research.

    Leprosy Policies and Organizations Outside Carville, 1922-1970

    Folder 10 – Leprosy pamphlets, bulletins, factsheets, 1945-58

    Pamphlets regarding Hansen’s Disease from various Departments of Health in the United States; government technical bulletins and fact sheets; articles by William Meyer.

    Folder 11 – Leprosy laws and regulations—U.S. and territories, 1946-51, 1967

    File includes; reports on leprosy segregation; legislation and remarks from U.S. House of Representatives; articles and updates on legislation; copies of Senate Bills.

    Folder 12 – American Samoa, correspondence, clippings

    Correspondence regarding leprosy problem in American Samoa, including articles on controversial statements about increase of leprosy in American Samoa; notes from Medical Officer regarding phone interview with TIME magazine; records regarding prevalence; copy of Survey of Leprosy in American Samoa; article regarding the closure of Samoa’s ‘leprosy colony’.

    Hawaii, 1922-1970

    Folder 13 – Hawaii, correspondence, reports, photographs, 1962-1965

    Small photos of leprosy station, typescript of history of Kalaupapa hospital and settlement; excerpts from annual reports; memoranda regarding hospitals and budgets.

    Box 14

    Folder 1 – Hawaii, news clippings, 1968-70

    Clippings from Honolulu Star on treatment, segregation, and stigma. Comparison of Hawaiian hospital and Carville.

    Folder 2 – Leonard Wood Memorial, booklets, reports, correspondence, 1950-62

    Hansen’s Disease booklet; notes from Leonard Wood Medical Department; Medical Director’s reports; report from Interbureau Committee on Leprosy; copy of Leprosy Briefs.

    Folder 3 – National Advisory Committee on Leprosy, 1946-47

    Thin folder includes summary of recommendations, list of members.

    Folder 4 – National Foundation for Leprosy, constitution and incorporation, 1948

    Single document; Constitution and Bylaws for National Leprosy Foundation

    Folder 5 – World Leprosy Day, 1968-69

    Thick folder includes; memoranda regarding world leprosy week; public health pamphlets on leprosy; memoranda on publicity and media; news clippings; copy of draft statement by Richard Nixon; educational materials.

    Folder 6 – World Leprosy Day, 1970

    Memoranda regarding observance of World Leprosy Day, news articles; text of speeches; newsletters; statement by Richard Nixon; press releases; award nominations; photographs of awards ceremony.

    Folder 7 – Official reports, summaries, proposals, bulletins, 1949-61

    List of physicians and clinics; monthly survey pamphlet from Public Health Service; proposal for a national study at Carville; conference program; memoranda.

    Folders 8 through 16 – Correspondence, Hospital Division Copies, 1946 –1969

    Series of thick folders which include; administrative memoranda from hospitals across the U.S., including Carville; many documents related to the admission, transfer or discharge of individual patients; memoranda regarding employment and benefits; transportation and purchasing memoranda; finances and employee appointments.

    The materials in this series cover the years 1917-1982 and include press releases, news clippings, photographs, and correspondence, most of which were collected by the Division of Hospitals’ Information Office.

    Amongst the Division of Hospitals’ Administrative Documents (1819; 1921-1982) is a folder containing slides of facilities and staff at several general hospitals, one of which is Carville. These are from 1974-75.

    The Esmond Ray Long Papers (Collection Number MS C 362) can be accessed through the finding aid here. This collection includes biographical data, correspondence, drafts and articles, and printed matter. A sizable portion of the collection pertains to Dr. Long's publications and his work as editor. Dr. Esmond R. Long (1890-1979) was a specialist in the epidemiology, pathology and public health aspects of tuberculosis, particularly its treatment and prevention.. He was editor of the International Journal of Leprosy from 1964 to 1969. A sizable portion of the collection pertains to Dr. Long's publications and his work as editor.

    Papers, 1920-1974

    Box 4: Correspondents include: Chapman H. Binford (International Journal of Leprosy, Leonard Wood Memorial, Perry Burgess (Leonard Wood Memorial)
    Box 7: Correspondents include: Olaf K. Skinsnes (International Journal of Leprosy)
    Box 9: Leonard Wood Memorial, 1938-1973
    Box 10: International Journal of Leprosy, 1958-1969
    Box 11: International Journal of Leprosy, 1969-1974

    The Sydenham Hospital Records (1909-1949) can be accessed through the finding aid here. This hospital was maintained by the Baltimore City Health Department for the isolation and treatment of communicable diseases. Box 79 in this collection contains a folder of material on leprosy.

    There are also clippings on public health in Hawaii:-

    1910-1918 (bulk 1910-1911)
    3 items (41 p.)

    Call Number: MS C 476
    DNLM: MS C 476
    Record Id: MDHM92-A13

    Clippings, apparently once part of a scrapbook, for 1910-1911 and 1915-1916, with one item from 1918. Topics include leprosy, bubonic plague, and the Marine Hospital Service Quarantine Station. The clippings are in reverse chronological order.

    Among the C Everett Koop Papers (1975-1989), Collection Number: MS C 489, is the following:-

    Sequential Files 1981-1989

    Box: 42 Folder: 15 American Leprosy Missions, June 1985

    Dr. C. Everett Koop was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) in February 1981, and sworn in as Surgeon General on November 17, 1981. The collection documents Koop's activities as Surgeon General during the 1980's and the many public health issues with which he was concerned.

    Amongst the articles, lectures and other professional papers in the Chauncey D Leake Papers (1921-1976) is a box of material on monochloracetic acid, amebiasis, and leprosy (1929-1945).

    Amongst the Burchfield collection (1967-1993) are two volumes of documents, correspondence, and news clippings on the leprosy-armadillo project.

    Amongst the library’s Images from the History of Medicine are many to do with leprosy. Some are clinical, others include views of Molokai, in Hawaii; the colony in Korea; San Lazaro Leper Hospital in Cebu, the Philippines; or of Culion; and others are educational.

    Entry made April 2002
    Updated July 2003 and January 2016


    Name Reference Desk, History of Medicine Division
    Organization US National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Division
    Address National Library of Medicine, Bldg 38, 1E21, 8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Maryland 20894, USA.
    Telephone (301) 496-5405
    Fax (301) 402-0872

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