International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    National Museum of Health and Medicine


    Category Museum
    Organization Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP)
    Country USA
    Address 2500 Linden Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20910


    The National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) was known as the Armed Forces Medical Museum from 1974 to 1989, the Medical Museum of the AFIP from 1949 to 1974 and the Army Medical Museum pre-1949. The Otis Historical Archives (OHA) was established in 1968 to take custody of the National Museum of Health and Medicine's institutional records, historical manuscript collections, photographic collections, and rare books. Researchers interested in consulting the collections are advised to read the Guide to Collections on the Museum's website before sending an email inquiry.

    The holdings pertaining to leprosy are in the Otis Historical Archives and include the following: There are thirty-nine boxes of photographs taken from 1862 to 1918. Those relating to leprosy are: 2285-90A – “leper lesions on face, arm and hands”; 2285-90B – “leper lesions on arms and legs”; 2285-90C – “leper face lesions”; 2287 – “leperosy (sic)”; 2288 – “leperosy (sic)”; 2291 – “Paco (Leper) Cemetery, Manila, Philippine Islands”; 2374 – “group of lepers”.

    The Binford Leprosy Material (1922-1975) is held in this archive, which consists of one box of Public Health Bulletins, reprints, manuscript articles, journals and photographs. Clinical photographs preserved by Dr Chapman H Binford are mainly from Hawaii, and were taken in the early 1930s.

    In the Binford collection there is one box of material on the Philippines. Folder1 in this box is titled "Reprints by H.E. Hasseltine". The folder comprises copies of public health bulletins, including;

    • Studies upon Leprosy, P.H. Bulletin, no. 141, July 1924
    • Studies upon Leprosy, P.H. Bulletin, no. 130, December 1922
    • Public Health Reports, vol. 37, no. 23, June 1922
    • Preparation of Chaulmoogra Oil Derivatives
    • Other reprints from 1922-23

    Folder 2 is titled "Reprints". This thick folder includes articles on research conducted in the Philippines in the 1920s. Many articles are from the Philippine Journal of Science or the Journal of the Philippine Islands Medical Association. It also includes public health pamphlets from the Government of the Philippine Islands regarding epidemiology and transmission of leprosy, and a type-script report, "A Resume of Leprosy Work in the Philippine Islands" by Jacob Fajardo.

    Folder 3 is titled "Reprints". This folder includes a copy Forty Years of Leprosy Research: History of the Leonard Wood Memorial (American Leprosy Foundation) by Esmond R. Long. The folder also includes reprints and magazine articles on leprosy and leprosy hospitals.

    Folder 4 is titled "Correspondence and Photos". It includes the following:

    • correspondence by Chapman Binford to Stanley Stein, Editor of The Star
    • the type-script report, The Armadillo—Experimental Model in Leprosy by Chapman Binford, Eleanor E. Storrs and Gerald P. Walsh
    • a copy of a translation of the memoirs of G. Armauer Hansen (1910)
    • a 8x10 photograph of dedication of the Leonard Wood Memorial at Johns Hopkins
    • a 8x10 photograph of an exhibit, "‘Hansen’s Disease’—Known as Leprosy" (undated)

    The McCoy Personal Papers Collection is also held here. Dr George McCoy (1876-1952) was director of the Leprosy Investigation Station in HI (1911-1915), head of NIH (1915-1937) and professor of public health at LSU in New Orleans (1938-). The majority of this collection consists of letters from McCoy to his son during the latter’s service in the Army in World War II.

    There are two lantern slide collections: the McCoy Collection/Leprosy Lantern Slide Set (c.1948), which contains lantern slides apparently made by the US Public Health Service showing people with leprosy; and the Seeley Philippines Lantern Slide Collection (1930s), which show medical and anthropological images of leprosy in the Philippines, donated by Brigadier General Sam Seeley, US Army Medical Corps, who served at Ft McKinley. This collection contains 70 slides from the Philippines, some of which relate to leprosy

    The Siler Collection (1910-1929) contains photographs belonging to J F Siler, US Army Medical Corps. These show, among other images, photos of a leprosy colony.

    The geographic focus of this collection is Panama, during the time of the building of the Panama Canal. In size, it consists of one box containing 118 folders, holding 1 photograph each. The photographs are 8x10 and black & white. All are dated 1929. Photographs related to leprosy include:

    • #11 Palo Seco Leper Colony
    • #12 Palo Seco from the sea
    • #59 Palo Seco ward and operating room building
    • #77 Palo Seco dining room in new building, 1928
    • #86 Palo Seco building opened in 1927

    Other photograph collections, including the WWI/Reeve Collection, also contain pictures that are leprosy related, some of a clinical nature. This collection ( ca. 1918) consists of an extensive slide collection mostly related to the 1918 influenza epidemic, including depictions of army encampments. There are slides also related to venereal disease campaigns aimed at soldiers during the First World War and a small number of leprosy materials are integrated into the collection.

    The Oral History Program has recorded an interview with Dr Wayne Meyers, conducted in 1993, in which he talks about his life, including his work under ALM in Burundi; Kivu in the Congo; and the Lower Congo.

    The AFIP also has a Leprosy Registry which is primarily concerned with the pathology of biopsy specimens and autopsy specimens from leprosy patients. There are more than 25 000 specimens in the collection. There are also specimens from experimental and naturally-acquired leprosy in animals. This international collection has been built up over the last sixty years or so. All human specimens are subject to privacy restrictions.

    Photomicrographs of histopathologic preparations are also held by the AFIP. This material is also subject to privacy restrictions.

    Entry made 28 May 2002
    Updated 13 February 2003


    Name Michael Rhode (Archivist)
    Organization National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP)
    Address 2500 Linden Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20910

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