International Leprosy Association -
History of Leprosy

  • International Leprosy Association -
    History of Leprosy


    Institut Pasteur


    Category Hospital/Research Institute
    Country France
    Address 25-28, rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France


    The Pasteur Institute in Paris holds a large number of documents referring to leprosy, dating from the latter part of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The archive has personal collections as well as archives of other Pasteur Institutes around the world.

    In the Albert Calmette collection, there are some early published articles on leprosy. These are in the ‘D / Dossiers de travail d’Albert Calmette’ section, under ‘14_Lèpre; a) Publications de pastoriens’ (CAL.D.12). There are two articles by Charles Nicolle, one co-authored with Bastide (Director of Health and Hygiene in Tunisia). The one he wrote singly (1906) is about experimental research on leprosy, and published in Annales de l’Institut Pasteur, XXV. The co-authored article is dated 1907, and is on leprosy in Tunisia, in Lepra. Bibliotheca Internationalis, Vol. 7. An article on leprosy by Emile Marchoux, from Revue d’hygiène et de police sanitaire, XXXV, 1930 is also in this collection.

    The Emile Duclaux archive contains a letter from Elie Metchnikoff, dated 3 October 1898, in which Metchnikoff gives his opinion on Spronck’s work on leprosy. (DUC.3)

    In the Jacques Genevray collection, there is an obituary notice on Genevray, from Annales de l’Institut Pasteur, 86, 1954, in which his main work is described, including the field of leprosy.

    In the archive of the Institut Pasteur in Dakar (IP DAKAR, Direction; IPD.DIR.1), there is a series of files in the ‘Correspondance Générale’ section. These include documents on sulphamide experiments on leprosy (1942).

    The Institut Pasteur ‘Direction’ archive holds correspondence between Emile Roux and the Ministre des Colonies (28 February 1933). This includes a rough draft of the letter from Roux. Mme de Lestrange from the Ministry asks for “une mission officielle à Tahiti, dans le but d’y poursuivre des etudes sur la lèpre” [an official mission to Tahiti, in order to carry out a study of leprosy there].

    There are a number of documents in the archive of the Institut Pasteur in Madagascar, in the section entitled ‘E / Services extérieures, commissions diverses. 1_Commission de la lèpre’ (MAD.10). ‘Correspondance 1930-1932’ includes: letters from RG Cochrane (International Leprosy Association) to the Director of the Institut Pasteur in Tananarive (1931-32), with the statutes of the Association; an exchange between the Inspection Générale du Service de Santé and the Director of the Institut Pasteur (1930-32), in response to the questionnaire sent by the Minister of Colonies at the League of Nations. The file ‘Asiaticocide’ contains correspondence between Grimes (Head of the Leprosy Service), Boiteau (Director of the Botanic Laboratory at Tananarive) and Jean Robic (Director of the Health Service) (1942-46), regarding research carried out at Manankavaly Leprosarium on the curative properties of ‘Asiaticocide’, prepared from extract of Burasaïa (by Mathis and Millot) in Paris and in Madagascar, in a factory given over to the Institute for scientific research; scientific notes on the drug, including production techniques and properties (undated); clinical observations (1948); ‘Correspondence Manankavely’ (1950), with treatment notes on patients at the lazaret of Ambohimiandra; requests for information on treatment (1945-49). There are also minutes of meetings held by the Paris Consultative Commission on Leprosy: 1946-48, on treatment with asiaticocide; 1947, on decisions regarding the composition of the Commission; 1948-54, examination of the therapeutic properties of asiaticocide. Other documents in this file include circular notes on the management of sanitary services, 1950-57; correspondence regarding leprosy control, 1949-54; notes and publication of ‘Epidémiologie et thérapeutique’ (1930-35).

    The Louis Pasteur collection (LP.G1 43) holds relevant correspondence and documentation in the section entitled ‘A / Travaux scientifiques, 17_Travaux sur les maladies infectieuses. La lèpre’. There is a letter from Evariste Mucret to Louis Pasteur (28 January 188?), in which Mucret writes of his son who has had leprosy for ten years, and asks, “Pourquoi ne vous êtes pas jusqu’ici occuper [sic] de la guérison de la lèpre?” [Why have you not been concerned with curing leprosy until now?]. This collection also holds a publication dated 1882, by Emile and Armauer Hansen, entitled ‘Etude sur la bactérie de la lèpre’, from Archives de Biologie, Vol. IV.

    An annotated biography of Léopold Nègre can be found in the collection bearing his name (NGR.4). This is undated, but includes a section called, ‘Transmission de la lèpre’.

    In the Charles Nicolle collection (NIC.), there is correspondence to both Charles and Pierre Nicolle from Etienne Burnet, dating from 1920 to 1935. This includes: the relating of events during the journey from Tunisia to Paris, and reflections on Frouin’s cure for leprosy (1920); information on leprosy courses at the Collège de France.

    The Emile Roux collection (ROU.6) contains a notebook with writings on leprosy and other diseases.

    The archive of the Service du BCG (BCG.8) holds a publication by Grimes: ‘Le traitement de la lèpre par l’hydrocotyle’, in Bulletin de la Société de Pathologie Exotique, No. 6, 1939; and a report by Grimes and P Boiteau, ‘Rapport sur la thérapeutique de la lèpre’, 1945. There is also a press article from Ce Soir (1945) by Jacqueline Groll on the study of rat leprosy at the Pasteur Institute, and Dr Chorine’s discovery.

    In the Simond collection, there is a letter from the Faculté de Médecine de Bordeaux to Paul-Louis Simond (1888), presenting a bronze medal for his thesis entitled, ‘La lèpre et ses modes de propagation à la Guyane Française’ (SIM.1). There is also a letter to Simond from the Préfecture de la Drome (1929) on the increase in leprosy cases in France (SIM.17). Also in this archive is a publication by Simond of his thesis on leprosy in French Guiana (1887), with an article by F Forné (Head Marine Doctor) in which the work of Simond is cited.

    The archives of the Société de Pathologie Exotique (SPE 01-05) covers the period 1905-1933, and contains the following correspondence on leprosy: a letter from Beaujean (Institut d’Hygiène et de Microbiologie) regarding leprosy in Martinique; another from Brochet about leprosy and the leprosarium in New Caledonia; Eugénie Delanoe writes on leprosy in Morocco; Jacques Genevray on research and diagnostics of leprosy in New Caledonia; a letter from Georges Girard on leprosy work in Madagascar; Henri Marneffe on leprosy in Saigon; L. Nodenot on leprosy in Saint Denis, La Réunion.

    Jacques Tréfouël was Director of the Pasteur Institute. His collection contains a letter from Hervé Floch, Director of the Pasteur Institute in French Guiana, on “thérapeutique antilépreuse” (18 October 1950). Floch writes on a treatment for tuberculosis used against leprosy, and the testing of sulphones from Park and Davis laboratories. There is also a report sent to Tréfouël from Jean Cottet (Théraplix), on the latter’s visit to French East and West Africa (18 April 1951). A second report from an undefined source, dated 2 May 1951, relates to the use of disulone as a treatment for leprosy and malaria. Correspondence between Noël Rist and Jeanine Tain (July – August 1984) discusses Tréfouël’s correspondence with M Buttle and Hervé Floch on sulphones, leprosy and mycobacteria. In the file ‘D / Missions, congrès et conferences. 3_Etranger’, there are documents concerning the conference in Switzerland, including a paper that Tréfouël gave on the use of sulphones in treating leprosy and tuberculosis, and correspondence relating to this (1949). There is also a publication on chemotherapy research from Bulletin de l’Academie Suisse des sciences médicales, Vol. 11, 1954; and documents from a conference in Greece in 1955, including a typed paper by Tréfouël on sulphones to treat leprosy.

    René Vallery-Radot’s collection holds a letter from Emile Roux, dated 6 October 1929, including topics such as the death of Duquesne (architect of Pasteur Institute), Burnet mission for leprosy and the nomination of Anderson as Director of the Pasteur Institute in Tunisia.

    Entry made 17 January 2003


    Name Stéphane Kraxner
    Organization Institut Pasteur
    Address Institut Pasteur, Service des Archives, 25-28, rue du Docteur Roux, 75724 Paris Cedex 15, France.
    Telephone +33 (0) 1 45 68 81 12 / 13 and +33 (0) 1 40 61 33 59
    Fax +33 (0) 1 40 61 34 05

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