International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Casa de Oswaldo Cruz - COC/Fiocruz


    Category Institutional Archive
    Organization Fundação Oswaldo Cruz
    Country Brazil
    Address Avenida Brasil 4365, Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil - CEP 21040-360


    Laboratório de Hanseníase

    In the Department of Tropical Medicine (Departamento de Medicina Tropical) at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, the collection of the Leprosy Laboratory (Laboratório de Hanseníase) includes both administrative and technical-scientific documentation regarding the activities of the Instituto de Leprologia from the period when it was linked to the Serviço Nacional de Lepra and from after its integration with Fiocruz (Fundação Oswaldo Cruz). The period covered by this collection is 1890-1989; the documents are organised chronologically in bundles, and stored in archival boxes.

    The administrative documentation relates to aspects of the organisation and functioning of the Institute, and the technical-scientific documentation refers to the planning and execution of the Institute’s activities. This collection contains information on Fiocruz’s involvement in the implementation of public policies in the sector; the epidemiological aspects of leprosy and of other diseases; the realisation of pharmacological studies and the production and distribution of lepromin, histamin, pilocarpin and other products. It also records the realisation and assessment of diagnostic tests for leprosy; the development of research, including protocols of experimental trials; the programming and realisation of courses and the participation of professionals at the Institute in scientific events.

    This collection is made up of documents accumulated by Nilson Carvalho da Silva relating to his training and his activities and functions carried out as researcher of the Institute, as well as pharmacologist of Schering Produtos Químicos e Farmacêuticos SA. Another interesting aspect of the archive is the collection of his notes on the organisation and functioning of the Laboratório de Biologia and on general aspects of the production of medication in Brazil.

    Authorisation is needed to access this part of the Institute’s collection.

    Arquivos Pessoais e de Outras Instituições

    The section of the collection named Arquivos Pessoais e de Outras Instituições (Personal Collections and Archives of Other Institutions) contains the collection of Heráclides César de Souza Araújo. It covers the period 1915-1962 and is divided into sections: Produção Intelectual (Intellectual Production), Correspondência, (Correspondence), Recortes de Jornais (Newspaper Cuttings), Documentos Pessoais (Personal Documents).

    The Produção Intelectual section contains articles and other publications by Souza Araújo, as well as works by various authors. These works are on leprosy, tisiology, venereal disease and other scientific themes, as well as histories of leprosy research and of control initiatives and treatment of the disease.

    The Correspondência section of the collection highlights the relationships maintained between Souza Araújo and other researchers in the same area of study, especially in that of the exchange of experimental materials and publications, the organisation of events, and the creation and functioning of both scientific and philanthropic associations aimed at aiding leprosy sufferers. The collection also shows the activities of IOC (Instituto Oswaldo Cruz) in the distribution of lepromin, leprolin and other reagents, and its participation in the organisation of leprosy control services in other South American countries, thereby providing information on the Institute’s range and functioning.

    The Recortes de Jornais section holds newspaper cuttings relating to the treatment and history of leprosy; articles on meetings and conferences, and public health.

    The Documentos Pessoais section includes programmes of courses given by Souza Araújo, lists of countries and leprosaria visited, research plans, copies of cheques, leprosy census reports, invitations, results of medical exams, curriculum vitae and professional histories of Souza Araújo.

    There are no restrictions on this part of the Institute’s collection.

    Another collection in the section of Arquivos Pessoais e da Outras Instituições is that of Belisário Penna, who was appointed head of the Service of Propaganda and Sanitary Education in 1928 and head of the National Department of Public Health in 1930. A leprosarium in Paricatuba, Amazonas, Brazil, is named after him. Documents relating to leprosy in this part of the collection are in the sections named Produção Intelectual (Intellectual Production), and Trajetória Profissional (Professional Path).

    The Produção Intelectual section holds articles and texts on the leprosy situation in Brazil; on theories of leprosy being linked with the disease ‘opilação’, which is caused by a parasitical worm that Penna suggests is the method of propagation of the bacillus M leprae; on the transformation of Ilha Grande into an area specifically for people with leprosy; on Penna’s criticisms of the conclusions resulting from the Third International Leprosy Congress in Strasbourg (they indicated that compulsory isolation was only necessary for patients with no fixed abode, but Penna supported the view that all sufferers should be segregated apart from society, not only in their homes, as he saw this as the only effective way to eradicate the disease). There are also articles by other authors held in this collection.

    The Trajetória Profissional section contains correspondence and notes (1914-1932) relating to Penna’s activities as a member of the anti-leprosy campaign. Especially noteworthy are documents from the period during which he fought for the creation of the ‘município da Redempção’ – an area for compulsory segregation of people with the disease. Ilha Grande was to be such an area.

    Arquivo Iconográfico

    The Iconographic section – Arquivo Iconográfico - of the Institute’s archive includes the collection named Heráclides César de Souza Araújo. This contains 900 original photographs, covering the period 1920-1970, which document the private and professional life of Souza Araújo. They show his visits to leprosy organisations, in his capacity as head of the Centro Internacional de Leprologia (1934-1939). The photographs also shows his trips to Colombia and other Latin American countries for his study of leprosy, and cover the period during which he was head of the Serviço de Saneamento Rural do Departamento Nacional de Saúde Pública do Paraná e do Pará (1918-1924). The collection also documents Souza Araújo’s travels as leprologist to the Middle East and Far East.

    Arquivo de Imagens em Movimento

    The Moving Images section – Arquivo de Imagens em Movimento – includes a number of films on leprosy:

    Iarerê – Hanseníase e Mentalidades no Rio de Janeiro (VHS – NTSC – 52’ – 1988)
    These films deal with the psychological aspects related to the social characteristics of leprosy. The disease is not only seen from a biological and scientific perspective, but mainly through attitudes. There are interviews with elderly patient-residents in Tavares de Macedo colony and Hospital Frei Antônio, health professionals and the publics; extracts from documentaries, from fiction and photographs of the archive of Souza Araújo. Patients from old leprosaria in Rio de Janeiro tell their story.

    Chagas na Amazônia (U-MATIC – PAL-M 52’ – 1992)
    This collection of films includes information on the activities of the Instituto Alfredo da Matta in the leprosy control program, and interviews with patients.

    Chagas nos Rios Acre e Purus
    There are numerous films in this collection, which include interviews with doctors on leprosy in the region. There is also a whole tape on the Souza Araujo colony in Rio Branco, which includes an interview with a long-term resident.

    Lepra – O espetáculo do medo (VHS – NTSC – 54’ – undated)
    Memoirs of leprosy patients and doctors regarding the colony of Pirapitinguí, in the state of São Paulo.

    Coleção de Filmes Antigos sobre Saúde Pública no Brasil
    2. ‘Educandário Santa Maria de Combate ao Mal de Hansen.’ Cine-Journal Brasileiro, vol. 3, no. 29 (2’ – 1943)
    6. ‘Colônia da Mirueira, Vila de Hansenianos.’ Cine-Jornal da Prefeitura de Recife. (1’-undated)
    10. ‘Visita Presidencial ao Pavilhão do Educandário Carlos Chagas, Preventório para Filhos de Hansenianos em Juiz de Fora – MG.’ Cine-Jornal – Z-27 (No sound – 1’20” – 1945)
    11. ‘Hospital Colônia de Curupaity para Hansenianos.’ Humberto Mauro. INCE (No sound – 5’20” – 1939)
    12. ‘Instituto Oswaldo Cruz.’ INCE (No sound – 7’45” – undated)
    15. ‘Combate à Lepra no Brasil.’ INCE (13’30” – 1945)

    Entry made 18 September 2002
    Updated 6 November 2002


    Name Archivist
    Organization Casa de Oswaldo Cruz - COC/Fiocruz
    Address Casa de Oswaldo Cruz - COC/Fiocruz, Departamento de Arquivo e Documentação, Avenida Brasil 4036, 6° andar, Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil - CEP 21040-361.
    Telephone +55 590 9122
    Fax +55 590 3690

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