The javascript used on this site for creative design effects is not supported by your browser. Please note that this will not affect access to the content on this web site.
Skip Navigation
H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration

A-Z Index  |  Questions? 

  • Print this
  • Email this

National Hansen's Disease Museum

Exhibits & Collections


  • 100 Years of Carville History Timeline
  • U.S. Public Health Service
  • Recreation of a Patient's Room, circa 1940's
  • Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
  • Stanley Stein & The Star Magazine
  • Medical Adaptations & Treatment
  • Site History of Carville
  • Laboratory Research
  • Patients' Stories & Advocacy
  • Carville Culture: Organizations, Activities & Entertainment
  • Federal Civil Service Employees
  • Hansen’s Disease Ready Reference
  • Medical treatment

Also see The Carville Collection in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library key word search: Carville / leprosarium / leprosy

Cultural Artifacts

  • Patient artwork
  • Mardi Gras costumes and float
  • Handmade lamps, jewelry boxes
  • Bicycles and scooter used by patients

Medical Artifacts

  • Laboratory instruments used in research
  • Medical adaptations designed for patients with insensitive and disfigured hands including scissors, eating utensils and keys
  • Innovative button hooks, zipper pulls and the "Carville sandal"
  • Unique hand-cranked wheelchairs, an ambulance basket and morgue furnishings

NHDM Collections

Our collections span the history of the treatment of Hansen’s disease on this site (1894 to 1999), the Daughters of Charity’s mission at Carville (1896 to 2005) and the tenure of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) at Carville (1921 to 1999).

The Daughters of Charity Collections consist of correspondence, publications, photographs, and newspaper clippings compiled by the Sisters to document their mission here. The collection is especially strong in documenting the everyday life of the patients. Range:  1894-1999.

The United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Collections tell the history of the mission of treatment, care and rehabilitation of leprosy by the federal government on this site. Special collections include HD teaching slides; National Leprosarium Director Dr. Guy Faget’s correspondence and his records of sulfone drug trials, 1941 to 1947; some Medical Officer in Charge daybooks (1921-1960)

The Sixty-Six Star (1931 - 1934). Bi-monthly mimeographs (4-6 pages per issue). Forerunner of The STAR magazine. This patient-produced newsletter featured hospital news, hand-drawn illustrations, gossip and entertainment news. The newsletter ceased publication after a controversial editorial by Stanley Stein on "Leper's Mass."

The STAR Magazine (1941-Present) - Patient Stanley Stein established The STAR in 1941. This patient publication employed dozens of patients over the decades and had achieved a readership of 60,000+ worldwide by Stein’s death in 1967. Hard copies are available in museum archives and digital files are available for download. 

The Question Mark (QM) was published weekly by the high school students of the hospital’s accredited school for the patients of Carville.  Format: 2-4 page mimeographed paper. Information may cover the latest “Talking Books” available at the library, hours of church services on site, and a schedule of sports and leisure activities at the hospital.  Some issues contain poetry by patients. Hard copies only. Arranged by date, 1949-1990’s.

Other Major Collection Categories

Administration, 1896 to 1999:  Annual reports and other general administrative material. Arranged chronologically.

Annals of Carville:  Organizational diaries kept by the Daughters of Charity who were in residence at Carville, chronological order.

HD Dissertation and Thesis Collection:  Published research by graduate and professional level students. Approximately 50 papers, 1960 to present. Search by author or title.

HD Film Collection: Instructional films created by USPHS doctors, rehabilitation specialists and the Training Department at Carville Included in this collection are documentary films made by USPHS staff as well as professional filmmakers. Approximately 40 titles, DVD.

Hospital Facilities and Engineering: Collection of blueprints, surveys, and tools used in hospital construction and maintenance. Bulk: 1920s to 1999.

Photography Collection: Johnny Harmon, a patient, became The STAR Magazine’s chief photographer. The Harmon Collection contains several thousand negatives. Active 1944-1957. Charles Marshall was another patient photographer for The STAR (active 1941-1944). Staff residents also created a photographic record of their lives at Carville. Anonymous and/or unidentified photographers created photographs by recording hospital activities for various clubs and events over the years. Bulk 1940’s to 1990’s.

Legislative History of Leprosy: A chronological compilation of federal, state and local laws that affect the care and treatment of persons diagnosed with leprosy in the U.S. Digital and hard copy formats.

Leprosy in Literature: Patient-authored memoirs and articles focusing on autobiographical accounts of living with leprosy in many cultures and eras. Fictionalized stories and memories written by non- patients are included. Approx. 50 titles, 1930s to present.

Medical Journals: International Journal of Leprosy, Leprosy Review, Leprosy in India, Practical Textbooks of Leprosy, Acta Leprologica, Bulletins of the World Health Organization, Exerpta Medica—Mycobacterial Diseases, et al. Bulk 1921 to 1999.

Medical Vertical Files:  A collection of approximately 11,000 articles of medical & cultural interest collected by the hospital’s Medical Library. Searchable by title and author. Bulk 1921 to 1999.

Newspaper Clippings, 1890s to 2000: Articles about Carville and Hansen's disease from local and national newspapers. Arranged chronologically and keyword searchable. This collection is a mixture of original and xerographic copies.

Oral Histories: Staff and patients of the National Leprosarium give personal accounts of their work and daily life here as medical professionals and quarantined patients. The collection of about 100 oral histories is in several formats (written, digital, video, audio). Some audio-video interviews also have written transcriptions. Most oral histories were gathered from 1994 to 2010.

Outside Organizational Involvement: American Leprosy Missions, Lions Club, American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary; the Forty & Eight (veterans), Disabled American Veterans and Auxiliary, Lions Club, Delta Sigma Epsilon Sorority, AMVETS, Bulk dates: 1940 to 1990.

Patients’ Lives, 1920 to present: Correspondence, photographs, news stories, documenting individual patients; photographs and programs documenting patient activities and lives includes: patients’ school, recreational and social activities, sports teams, musical programs, clubs, Christmas programs, and Mardi Gras celebrations. Bulk dates: 1930 through 1960.

Note concerning patient names. The majority of patients at Carville took aliases when they entered the facility. This was a common practice aimed at reducing the social stigma of leprosy for the patients' families. Many patients retained their Carville name throughout their lives. However some patients went back to using their real names in later years. Real names are used in cases where the patients didn't take an alias or went back to their real names at some point in their lives. In cases where patients did not want their real names revealed, the patients' wishes have been respected and aliases have been retained.


The museum and archives has hosted research projects culminating in

  • Academic papers (all levels)
  • Books
  • Documentary films
  • Family histories
  • History Day Projects
  • Science & Social Studies Projects

Research must be planned in advance.  Please complete a Museum User form and contact the curator to discuss your project and reserve research time.


Elizabeth Schexnyder