About the National Archives

Welcome Remarks for Carville’s Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice

September 30, 2020

Greetings from the National Archives. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s author lecture with Pam Fessler on her recently published book Carville’s Cure: Leprosy, Stigma, and the Fight for Justice.

The book relates the little-known story of the only leprosy colony in the continental United States, and the thousands of Americans who were exiled and hidden away with their “shameful” disease. Through her research, Fessler made the surprising discovery that, though shut away from families and the community, patients made Carville more a refuge than a prison.

Carville was a Louisiana state institution until 1921, when the United States Public Health Service took operational control. Among the records of the Public Health Service in the National Archives, one may find correspondence, reports, and photographs created by the Carville National Leprosarium as well as several issues of a magazine, The Star, published by the leprosarium.

To lead the conversation today, we’ll have Jennifer Ludden of NPR. Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk. She was previously an NPR correspondent covering family life and social issues and has also covered immigration and national security.

Our guest author, Pam Fessler, is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where she covers poverty, philanthropy, and voting issues. She reports on what nonprofit groups, the government, and others are doing to reduce poverty and how those efforts are working. Her poverty reporting was recognized with a 2011 First Place National Headliner Award.

Fessler also covers elections and voting, including efforts to make voting more accessible, accurate, and secure. She has done countless stories on everything from the debate over state voter identification laws to Russian hacking attempts and long lines at the polls.

Now I’ll turn you over to Pam Fessler and Jennifer Ludden. Thank you for joining us today.