International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica


    Category Institutional Archive
    Organization Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica
    Country Costa Rica
    Address Calle 7, Av 4, San José, Costa Rica


    The National Archive of Costa Rica holds a number of documents dealing with leprosy, that date from 1784 to 1930.

    In the Guatemala Series there are two documents dated 1784. The first (No. 480) records arrangements made to prevent the spread of leprosy in Cartago. Juan Flores [Governor of Costa Rica, 1781-1785] constructed eight leprosy settlements to this end. The second (No. 483) is a notice recording the existence of people with leprosy in the suburbs of Cartago. The appointment and duties of deputies is described.

    In this Series, there is also a document from 1798 (No. 770), in which the work of Tomás de Acosta [Governor of Costa Rica, 1797-1810] is described. He procured the establishment of San Juan de Dios and San Lazáro hospitals, and it is documented that he will fight to create a village for leprosy sufferers. Other documents, from 1802 (No. 801) and 1807 (No. 886) regard the creation of a lazaretto in La Candelaria, a province of Costa Rica. A different file from 1820 (No. 1162) also relates to the establishment of a provincial leprosarium (possibly in Candelaria?).

    In the Cartago Series there are four documents pertaining to leprosy. Two (Year: 1786, No. 814; Year: 1794, No. 1096, Folio 164) relate to a petition from the Quircot Indians to Luis Blanco, Housing Minister in Juan Flores’ government, that demands payment for a straw house that they constructed for leprosy patients. Another document is dated 1801 (No. 1091, F90) and regards the formation of a leprosy village in La Candelaria. The fourth document in this Series is from 1807 (No. 981) and is a decree from Governor de Acosta, that appoints an official named Manuel del Sol to identify leprosy sufferers in Cartago, and to take the necessary measures in order to prevent contagion. On 27 May, Manuel del Sol noted the leprosy cases that he had found in the districts of Aguacaliente, Churuca and El Arrabal.

    In the section entitled ‘Congreso’, there are two documents on leprosy. One, from 1833 (No. 3377, Folio 1), is a decree of the Constitutional Assembly, imposing capital punishment on isolated leprosy sufferers who run away. The punishment is ordained to be executed in front of other patients in the lazaretto. The second document in this section is on public health in general, but includes leprosy. It affirms that between 1930 and 1931, there were approximately 40 men and 28 women in the leprosarium; and promotes a move away from isolation and the promotion of treatment.

    In the ‘Beneficencia’ section, there are files dating from 1866, 1876 and 1881 that deal with leprosy. The first (307) contains records from San Juan de Dios Hospital. The second (191) holds communications to the Secretaria de Beneficencia of the Charity Council, regarding the acquisition of land for the construction of a lazaretto, and reports on leprosy and venereal diseases. The third (409) also holds communication from the Charity Council, as well as the Hospicio de Lazareto.

    There is a photograph (No. 3317) from 1909 of the Las Mercedes Leprosarium, and plans of the same sanatorium from 1942 to 1954. The archive also holds records of accounts, taxes and communication for the lazaretto.

    Entry made June 2002
    Updated 15 October 2002


    Name Head Archivist
    Organization Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica
    Address Archivo Nacional de Costa Rica, Apdo 10217, San José, Costa Rica.
    Telephone +506 234 7223
    Fax +506 234 7312

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