Annual lecture to focus on Hansen’s disease in Hawaii

This year’s lecture in the Hershey Lectureship in Medical History series looks at the more than 100-year history of a Hawaiian leprosy colony. Professor Kerri A. Inglis will present, "ma'i ho'oka'awale 'ohana (the disease that separates family): Hansen's disease in Hawai'i, 1866-1969.” The lecture will be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17, in the Media Center (T2500) on the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center campus.

As noted in Inglis’s research, from 1866 to 1969, approximately 8,000 persons were quarantined or exiled to the Molokai leprosy settlement in the Hawaiian Islands; but their story, in their words, has seldom been told.  In her recently published book, "Ma 'i Lepera: Disease and Displacement in Nineteenth-Century Hawai'I," she endeavors to recover the patients' voices in this significant moment in Hawaiian history.

In this presentation, Inglis will share insights of her examination of the many letters and articles that patients and their loved ones wrote to the Board of Health and Hawaiian language newspapers in the 19th century, as well as oral histories that have been collected in the 20th century. Together they tell the story of a disease, a changing society’s reaction to that disease, and the consequences of that experience for Hawai‘i and its people. From their writings we are privy to the most personal of moments – simple but profound experiences of living with the disease, being separated from loved ones, surviving and dying, in exile.

This lectureship accompanies the regular Hershey Society for the History of Medicine presentations. Founded in 2001, the Hershey Lectureship in Medical History brings a nationally or internationally recognized leader in the History of Medicine to Penn State Hershey for an annual public lecture that is open to all members of the Medical Center and the surrounding community.

For more information, contact the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine at 717-531-8778.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015