International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia


    Category Institutional Archive
    Country USA
    Address Historical Collections of the Library, 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA
    Telephone +1 215-399-2001 / 215-563-3737
    Fax +1 215-561-6477


    The Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia is one of the world's premier research collections in the history of medicine. It is accessible to researchers by appointment only.

    For leprosy researchers, the library's most significant collection is the Papers of Albert Sydney Ashmead (MSS 2/0029-01). A finding aid for this collection is available here.

    This collection documents the professional experiences of Albert S Ashmead, American leprologist (1850-1911). Consisting of five boxes of papers (1869-1910), it is organized into eight series: I. Biographical and Genealogical, 1894-1909. II. Correspondence, 1875-1909. III. Photographs, 1885-1901. IV. Writings, 1880-1909. V. Newsclippings and Printed Materials, 1897-1908. VI. Japanese Medical Collection, 1869-1893. VII. Research Notes and Translations, 1887-1910. VIII. Miscellaneous, 1874-1875.

    It contains correspondence with other researchers concerning the First International Leprosy Congress, 1897. The collection also includes manuscripts of articles, the text of an unpublished anthology on Japanese medicine and research notes and translations of articles on leprosy and anthropology.

    Series 1 contains newsclippings and Ashmead's corrections to his biographical statement.

    Series 2 contains extensive correspondence, 1875-1910, concerning the 1897 Leprosy Congress from Edvard Ehlers, Jules Goldschmidt, G Armauer Hansen, and Sir Jonathan Hutchinson.

    Other correspondents include: Luis F Alvarez, who describes the use of Carrasquilla's serum to treat leprosy; A F Bandelieron - the illnesses of Peruvian Indians; G M Bowie's reports of leprosy cures; C H Branson's extensive account of his experiences with leprosy (1910); D G Brinton's theories on the history of leprosy; correspondence from Juan de Dios Carrasquilla and Sebastian Carrasquilla; C L Conrardy's descriptions of his missions to people with the disease in Louisiana and China; Francisco Grana's 1907 account of inoculating llamas for syphilis; R G Haliburton on anthropological matters; a 1903 letter from Charles Hartzell, Acting Governor of Puerto Rico, concerning a scandal at the leper colony on Cabras Island; correspondence and a photograph from A W Hitt concerning leprosy in India; Luther F McKinney on leprosy in Columbia; an 1895 letter from Clarence B Moore on archeological evidence for pre-Columbian syphilis; correspondence from H Polakowsky concerning the dispute with Rudolf Virchow; correspondence from Alfred Stille describing his reactions to Ashmead's published writings; and correspondence from Julio C Tello. Many items not written in English have Ashmead's translations attached.

    There are photographs of people with leprosy, 1896 and 1901, and of a Japanese nurse, [ca. 1885] in Series 3.

    A small collection of Ashmead's manuscripts are preserved in series 4. There is one folder of miscellaneous short pieces, mostly newspaper submissions (1880-1909), as well as four lengthy manuscripts on leprosy, tuberculosis, and Japan.

    Series 5 contains newsclippings and printed material on medical anthropology and leprosy. In 1893, Ashmead assembled translations of German and French articles on leprosy, beri-beri, and Japanese medicine. Many were written by Albrecht Wernich; some were translated by Ashmead. This compilation is in Series 6.

    Series 7 contains research files on leprosy and texts, translations, and information on anthropological debate with Rudolf Virchow. Japanese documents include a 1874 history of medicine in Japan and a report sent to Ashmead on sickness in the Japanese army, 1874-1875 are contained in Series 8.

    In addition to the Ashmead papers, the library holds several rare monographs and pamphlets on the subject of leprosy.

    Entry updated January 2016


    Name The Archivist
    Organization College of Physicians of Philadelphia
    Address College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 19 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA.
    Telephone +1 215-399-2001
    Fax +1 215 561-6477

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