Register of reported cases of leprosy

Peter Christopher
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja11.10416
Published online: 12 December 2011

Many years ago, I rescued from destruction a unique 120-year-old leprosy register of the colony of New South Wales (Box 1). This register commenced in 1891 and continued after federation under NSW legislation.1,2 With 101 double pages, patient details were entered into 12 columns, in clearly legible copperplate handwriting (Box 2). As leprosy notification was compulsory, entries were a provisional diagnosis. Patients were subsequently examined by specialists, sometimes chaperoned by police. The diagnosis was entered into the register. If the patient had leprosy, warrants were issued for their detention at the Coast Hospital lazaret at Little Bay in Sydney.

  • Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

  • 1. Leprosy Act 1890 (54 Vic. No. 20).
  • 2. Public Health Act 1902 (NSW).
  • 3. Boughton CR. A coast chronicle: the history of Prince Henry Hospital 1881–1981. Centenary issue 2nd ed. Waterloo, NSW: Knudsen Printing Pty Ltd, 1981.
  • 4. Christopher PJ, Millsom RH, Bailey KF. Indochinese refugees [letter]. Med J Aust 1978; 1: 507.
  • 5. World Health Organization. Global leprosy situation 2010. Wkly Epidemiol Rec 2010; 85: 337-348. (accessed Nov 2011).


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