William M. Danner served as the first general secretary of the American Mission to Lepers (now The Leprosy Mission). He was appointed to this role in 1911, and served until 1937.
Danner was concerned with the conditions under which people were living in the United States, and approached Rupert Blue, Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, and Senator Joseph E. Ransdell, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health and National Quarantine, to propose the founding of a national leprosy hospital. Congressional hearings were held in 1916 to establish the need for such an institution. On February 3, 1917, Senate Bill number 4086, for a National Leprosarium in Carville, Louisiana, was passed by the U.S. Senate.
As a representative of the American Mission to Lepers, Danner travelled to leprosy institutions around the world in order to report on conditions to the Mission. He also attempted to persuade other national governments to implement isolation programs in order to eradicate leprosy.
Furman, Bess. A Profile of the United States Public Health Service 1798-1948. National Institutes of Health, 1973.
‘History of the National Hansen's Disease (Leprosy) Program.’ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Health Resources and Services Administration. Online: http://www.hrsa.gov/hansensdisease/history.html
‘Leprosy in Japan: American Expert Studying Conditions.’ The Straits Times, 3 December 1925, Page 10.