ILA Global Project on the History of Leprosy

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Search the database for leprosy archives
 
Home page Contact details for the project  Getting the best out of this website and database, including place name changes  Map of website for easy navigation  Useful links to other websites Back to opening page of site
You are here - Hints and Tips

 

'Leprosy Archives - Preserve Them!' online booklet
 
Bios, abstracts, publications and contact details of academics in the field of leprosy  
Images from leprosy history and the present day
 
Historic maps with links to database entries  
Bulletin board for notices and publications  
Information on the International Leprosy Association  
Add your details to our database  
List of established publications  
Members of the project steering group  
Acknowledgements to Contributors to the project  


Help Along The Way
General information and advice  Browsing the database   Use of terminology   Place name changes

 

 

General Information and Advice


Languages

This website has four different language sections (English, French, Portuguese and Spanish). The layout is shown on the site map.

There are more pages in English than in the other languages, due to the nature of the information and the frequency with which it is updated. These pages are:

If the page you are viewing is available in another language, the links are displayed in the top left-hand corner, and are colour coded: English - red; French - blue; Portuguese - green; Spanish - orange.


Links

Links are shown in blue text, visited links are shown in purple.

If you leave the mouse resting on a link for a few seconds, a box will appear that tells you where the link will take you.


Find

Use the command Ctrl F to find any word or group of words on a page.


Place Name Changes

For information on how place names have changed through history, visit our place name changes page.

 

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Browsing the Database

 

There are a number of ways in which you may browse the database: these are listed to the right. If you are looking for something specific, you would benefit from searching in a number of different ways in succession, rather than relying on only one type of search to retrieve all the information in the database that relates to the specific topic.

For example, if you wish to find out what information the database holds on a particular person, it is advisable not only to use the Person search, but also the Timeline search (selecting 'people' from the drop down list of categories), the browse of the archive summaries and those that retrieve information from notes fields.

Please note that within each category (Archive, Leprosarium etc.), only one way of browsing is possible at one time.

If you do not find what you are looking for, please visit the site again regularly, as information is added to the database on a daily basis.

Below is advice relating to each way of browsing the database.

Archive
Leprosarium
Research institute
Person
Treatment
Timeline
 

 

Archive

Name - Select the name of an archive from the drop down menu (in alphabetical order) in order to view particulars relating to it, such as contact information and a detailed summary of its holdings.

Category - Select an archive category from the drop down menu to retrieve a list of archives held in the database that best fit into that category, eg. National/State Archives. If an archive fits into more than one category, please look under all possible categories, as the archives may only be included in one list.

Country - Select a country from the drop down menu (in alphabetical order) to retrieve a list of the archival repositories held in the database that are in that country, in alphabetical order of region (i.e. state, presidency, country etc.), then town.

Browse archive summaries - This search involves entering one or two words for which you would like to browse the archive summaries. A list is retrieved of archives, in the summaries of which are found the words entered in the text box. When a selection is made from this list, full details regarding that particular archive are displayed. In order to find the requested word easily, use the Ctrl F function, which searches the page for a word or group of words. This browse of archive summaries also acts as an alternative to the 'archive name' browse above, as the name of the archive is included in the summary. This is particularly useful if you are unsure of the first part of the archive name, but you know one element.

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Leprosarium

Please note that the term leprosarium is used in a generic sense to cover old leper colonies, hospitals and anywhere that was used to treat and/or house people suffering from leprosy.

Name - Click on this link to retrieve an alphabetical list of all the leprosaria around the world that are contained in the database. When a name from the list is selected, more details are retrieved regarding that leprosarium, such as any name changes that it has undergone, recorded dates of its existence, who visited, and where its archives may be found. A link is provided to further details about the leprosarium's archives. NB: Where the exact name of the leprosarium is unknown, it has been named as the town.

Country - Select a country from the drop down menu to retrieve a list of leprosaria within that country. Both old and new names of countries are included in the drop down list. For example, whether you search under the Belgian Congo, Zaire or the People's Democratic Republic of the Congo, a list of the leprosaria that were/are in that area of the world will be retrieved, in alphabetical order of region (i.e. state, presidency, country etc.), then town. For information on how place names have changed through history, visit our place name changes page.

Year - This is a search of the timeline. You may search by single year or range of years. To search by a single year, enter the required year in the text box to retrieve a list of events in leprosy history contained within the timeline that are linked with leprosaria around the world. To search by a range of years, enter two years in the boxes to retrieve a list of events linked to leprosaria within that range. Results from both years entered will be included.

Browse for textual and historical references to a leprosarium - Choose the name of a leprosarium from the drop down menu to retrieve a list of references to the leprosarium that have been made in various publications, by key authors in leprosy history, such as Wellesley Bailey and Robert Cochrane. This search is useful to find out the years in which certain leprosaria were in operation, how many patients were there in certain years and other such information.

Browse leprosaria notes - This search allows the entry of any word in the text box, for which the notes on the leprosaria contained within the database will be scoured.

 

Research Institute

Name - Select the name of a research institute from the drop down menu (in alphabetical order) in order to view details about the institute, such the people associated with it, work that was carried out there, dates of operation and a link to more information about the institute's archives.

Country - Select a country from the drop down list (in alphabetical order) to retrieve a list of the research institutes held in the database that were/are in that country. These are listed in alphabetical order of region (i.e. state, presidency, country etc.), then town. For information on how place names have changed through history, visit our place name changes page.

Browse research institute notes - Enter one or two words in the text box in order to browse the notes on research institutes.


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Person

This section allows a browse of the database for significant people in leprosy history.

Name - Choose a name from the drop down menu to view details regarding that person, such as the treatment, leprosaria and research institutes that they are associated with, key publications, and the archives that hold records pertaining to them. A link is provided to further information about these archives.

Role - This browse allows retrieval of a list of people who carried out similar roles; for example: doctor, medical missionary, researcher. If a person had more than one role, as was often the case, please look under all possible categories, as the person may only be included in one list.

Year - This is a search of the timeline. You may search by single year or range of years. To search by a single year, enter the required year in the text box to retrieve a list of events in leprosy history contained within the timeline that are linked with significant people around the world. To search by a range of years, enter two years in the boxes to retrieve a list of events linked to leprosaria within that range. Results from both years entered will be included.

Browse person notes - Enter one or two words in the text box in order to browse the notes on significant people in leprosy history.

 

Treatment

Year - This is a search of the timeline. You may search by single year or range of years. To search by a single year, enter the required year in the text box to retrieve a list of events in leprosy history contained within the timeline that are linked with treatment. To search by a range of years, enter two years in the boxes to retrieve a list of events linked to treatment within that range. Results from both years entered will be included.

 

Timeline

Browse timeline by a specific location/subject - Here you may browse the timeline by different locations (eg. Africa, India, China, the Pacific) and subjects (eg. treatment, person). Please note that Brazil and South America are categorised separately due to the endemic nature of leprosy in Brazil, giving rise to a large number of entries in the timeline. Select a subject/location from the drop down list in order to retrieve a list of events in leprosy history linked to your choice.

Browse timeline for any word - Enter a word or two in the text box to retrieve a list of timeline entries containing that word. To see the whole timeline, leave the text box blank and simply click 'Search'.


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Use of Terminology

Leprosy has always been a word that has meant much more than it should have, and the assignation of the term leper has caused untold grief and suffering. Susan Sontag says that

"it is hardly possible to take up one's residence in the kingdom of the ill unprejudiced by the lurid metaphors with which it has been landscaped."

The language of disease works in two ways: specific illnesses become enshrouded with metaphoric potency and, at the same time, metaphors of disease are used to represent experience. When Sontag suggests that

"any important disease whose causality is murky, and for which treatment is ineffectual, tends to be awash in significance ... The disease becomes adjectival. Something is said to be disease-like, meaning that it is disgusting or ugly" (58)

she might as well be referring to leprosy, particularly before the introduction of its successful treatment.

A history of problems and politics associated with naming is embedded in the history of leprosy. This includes a history of patient activism that requires that leprosy be designated as Hansen's disease and the term leper be abolished. Patrick Feeney's The Fight Against Leprosy (London: Elek Books, 1964) describes the campaign to abolish the word leper and the term leprosy. (Chapter 19)

Part of the agenda of this project is to capture the history of this shift in naming and renaming in order to demonstrate the extraordinary changes that have been achieved. In order to do this, categories are not applied retrospectively. When archival material is located which uses terminology such as leper and leprosy, the terminology is retained in the description.

Related to this important matter is a use of terminology that is more historical than medical. When writing of events that have occurred in the past or when referring to historical documents, historians often employ "free and indirect discourse". In instances such as these, they are adopting a voice that is typical of a voice from the past. In the process, they would use the term leper as it might have been used, at the time. For example, Zachary Gussow, writing of the work of missionaries in the nineteenth century, employs the term leper in a way that may be considered totally objectionable if he were speaking outside his discipline. He writes

"The purposes of the missionaries in the colonies were multiple, to be sure, but evangelism was uppermost in their minds; in the case of lepers, it was foremost. Preaching and proselytising were the chief tools of missionaries. In confronting the destitute leper, spiritual salvation was accorded the highest priority. "

As part of his description, he adopts the "voice" of the missionary. That he does this is no indication that he is insensitive to, or unaware of, the troubled politics of the terminology.

 


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Page last updated 21 July 2003

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