A comprehensive system of registration

Medical officers played an important role in the mapping those with leprosy. They were in charge of producing detailed records of the medical histories of all those affected. They were to receive assistance from parish pastors and the health commissions, the local health boards of the day. These were initially only established in municipalities where leprosy was present.

There were several different forms for registering information. On the form for first-time registration, there were a number of columns that had to be filled in, including name, place of residence, place of birth, sex, profession, age, marital status, number of children, form of disease and how long they had had the disease. Since one of the goals was to investigate what caused the disease, and one main theory was that it was hereditary, there were also separate columns for information about whether their spouse, children or other relatives also had leprosy.

There was also a separate follow-up form. This was filled in if relatives had been infected, if the sick person had moved to another district or emigrated, if they had been cured or had relapsed, if the wrong form of leprosy had been diagnosed, if they had been admitted to a hospital – and if so, which hospital – and when they passed away.

All forms were sent in to the ‘Chief Medical Officer for Leprosy’ at least once a year. The reports from the whole country were then supplemented and organised in central registries, which the medical officer used to produce and publish statistical material. The ‘Tables of People Diagnosed with Leprosy in Norway’ also contain explanations and analyses of the data, as well as descriptions of activities at the various institutions.

Form from district physician. Regional State Archives of Bergen.
The district medical officers, with the assistance of the parish pastors and health commissions, were responsible for collecting information about leprosy cases in their district. Many different pieces of information were registered about those affected and their family members.
The Regional State Archives of Bergen. 
Form from district physician. Regional State Archives of Bergen.
Using a number of different forms, the registry made it possible to survey and track the development of individuals diagnosed with leprosy and their places of residence. All forms were sent to the ‘Chief Medical Officer for Leprosy’ at least once a year.
The Regional State Archives of Bergen.
From "Tabeller over de spedalske i Norge". www.ssb.no.
All the forms were then processed, analyses were made and statistics were produced. ‘Tables of People Diagnosed with Leprosy in Norway’ show different forms of numerical data, and they were published annually from 1860, although this was later changed to every five years. The publication also contained annual reports from the ‘Chief Medical Officer for Leprosy’ and reports pertaining to activities at individual institutions.
Statistics Norway, www.ssb.no
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