LEPRA (formerly The British Leprosy Relief Association, now LEPRA Health in Action)

  • LEPRA (The British Leprosy Relief Association)
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


The archive contains records of LEPRA's core committees and financial administration, Children's Fund grants, fundraising and publicity work, relationships with associated organisations, and LEPRA's international work in Asia and Africa.

The arrangement of the archive reflects the filing system created by LEPRA staff. There are very few sets of committee minutes present, and the work of committees is largely represented in the archive by committee correspondence files.

The catalogue is arranged as follows:

Section A: LEPRA committees and officers
A.1 LEPRA president
A.2 Executive Committee
A.3 Finance and General Purposes Committee
A.4 Medical Committee

Section B: Policy, financial control and future work

Section C: International projects
C.1 India
C.2 Malawi Pilot Project
C.3 Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia
C.4 Nigeria
C.5 Overseas visits reports

Section D: Research and drug regimens

Section E: Children's Fund grants

Section F: Fundraising and publicity
F.1 Fundraising
F.2 Regional fundraising
F.3 Publicity
F.4 Awards and lectures
F.5 Royal family and celebrities
F.6 Films

Section G: Associated organisations
G.1 International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP/ELEP)
G.2 Partner institutions
G.3 International co-operation



Physical description

63 boxes, 1 oversize box 4 transfer boxes of films


The arrangement of the archive in this catalogue follows the description of the archive contents made by Irene Allen, LEPRA Information Officer, in 1998 and 2004.

Please note that the following files were recorded by LEPRA staff in their box-list of the archive, but were retained by LEPRA and not transferred to the Wellcome Library:
WTI/LEP/C/1/7 India, Dichpalli, 1970s
WTI/LEP/C/2/5/3 LEP Estimates, August 1978-April 1983
WTI/LEP/C/4/11 National TB/Leprosy Training Centre, Zaria, 1991
WTI/LEP/F/1/1 Fundraising Activities UK, February 1973-November 1977
WTI/LEP/F/1/7 Craigmyle Meetings/Reports/Statistics, 1975
WTI/LEP/F/1/8 Fundraising Consultant - Craigmyle, September 1975-April 1979

Acquisition note

The archive was deposited in the library at Wellcome Collection by LEPRA in November 1998

Biographical note

LEPRA Health in Action was established in 1924 as the British Empire Leprosy Relief Association, with the aim ‘to rid the Empire of leprosy’. It was set up as a medical organisation to spearhead outpatient work instead of the traditional segregatory methods, and to foster research into all aspects of the disease.

In the 1930s the association began working with Toc H, a social inclusion charity founded during the First World War. Its founder, the Rev ‘Tubby’ Clayton, pioneered the concept of recruiting volunteers to work overseas, primarily in Africa. He also introduced fundraising from the general public as a consistent and routine part of the association’s work.

Throughout the association's history, the reigning monarch has been its patron. In the 1950s, King George VI became the first ‘Royal’ to sponsor children through the adoption scheme then in existence. This period also saw the removal of the word ‘Empire’ from the name and the first use of ‘LEPRA’.

The 1960s saw increased awareness of leprosy. In the UK, LEPRA's television and radio appeals were hugely successful and a significant source of income. A documentary film on LEPRA’s work in India, ‘The Name of the Cloud is Ignorance’, won awards at the Venice Film Festival and at the XIX International Film Festival.

As a result, LEPRA's overseas work expanded greatly throughout the 1970s, supporting projects in a further 11 countries. During the 1980s, many breakthroughs were made in curing leprosy patients and developing a vaccine, and further research continues to build on this work to this day.

2001 saw many new areas of work, including 14 Technical Support Teams in India, trials of new health education kits in Brazil, and special 'skin clinics' set up to overcome the problem of leprosy stigma in Mozambique.

In recent years, LEPRA has broadened its remit to enable its skills and experience to benefit the control of other diseases of poverty. The association officially changed its name to LEPRA Health in Action in 2008 to reflect this expansion of its work into new areas.

Related material

At other repositories:

Hull City Archives holds: British Empire Leprosy Relief Association, Hull and District branch: correspondence, receipts, accounts and miscellaneous, 1956-1959.

Terms of use

This collection has been catalogued and is available to library members. Some items have access restrictions which are explained in the item-level catalogue records.


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Accession number

  • WTI accession WTI/13