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The story of a beautiful teenage debutante from New Orleans who was heartbreakingly diagnosed with leprosy and entered the famous Carville hospital in Louisiana in the 1920s Many of the patients changed their names to protect their families from the stigma attached to leprosy Although she struggled most of her life with leprosy now known as Hansen's disease her secret could not be revealed Neighbors of her family never knew what happened to herAbout 20 years after she was diagnosed Martin wrote her autobiography Miracle at Carville and it became a minor classic


10 thoughts on “Miracle at Carville

  1. says:

    While growing up I heard uite a bit about leprosy and I found it fascinatingly fearful This book should have found its way into my hands when I was in my teens but maybe I can appreciate it now There's a lot of history in this memoir For example I didn't know that people in the continental US caught leprosy nor did I know that there was a leprosarium in Louisiana one of the states where leprosy was endemicHere 19 yo Betty describes what it was like to be diagnosed with such a feared disease in the late 1920s Attitudes toward the disease life as a leper in a leprosarium which was fairly new at the time the various treatments most of which were passing fads she experienced all are explained in these pages If I ever make it to Carville I would definitely make time to visit the site which is now a museum


  2. says:

    Betty Martin a pseudonym assumed to prevent disgrace to her family was a happy teenager in 1929 when she was diagnosed with leprosy Her appalled family sent her to a special leprosy hospital in Carville Louisiana and her engagement ended abruptly The horror of her family at Betty's situation and their willingness to abandon her and to lie to neighbors about where she had gone was shocking to me as a 7th or 8th grader when I found this book Despite being fairly familiar with the Bible I did not fully understand that lepers were still considered 'unclean' and the families did not want to be associated with the diseaseI remember being amazed that Betty eventually fell in love with a fellow patient and if I recall correctly her family was very disapproving of her efforts to find a little happiness after years of lonely misery and humiliation while incarcerated At some point she volunteered for innovative treatment and was one of the first people cured using modern medicine She and her beau escaped from Carville and ultimately were marriedThis sad memoir was a bestseller in the 50s and was a staple of many Catholic school libraries which is where I found it


  3. says:

    Interesting topic I read this after Molokai It was interesting to compare the colonies in Hawaii and Louisiana There is a lot of history and knowledge imparted too


  4. says:

    This tale enhanced my recent visit to the National Hansen's Disease Museum on the grounds of the former US Marine Hospital in Carville Louisiana Betty's words about her life there gave meaning to the artifacts on display in the museum She may not be the most erudite of writers but she certainly conveyed her feelings and experiences well Most interesting to me was there seemed to be no lines drawn at Carville among the residents in regards to race religion or socio economic backgrounds


  5. says:

    This is a novel about leprosy or Hansen's disease and the devastation it caused both to the sufferers and to their families There is a lot of history in this book I did not know that people in the US could have leprosy and that there was a leper colony in Carville LAin the 1920s the disease was regarded with horror in much the same way that AIDS was a few years ago


  6. says:

    so it seems that not a lot of people have read this book?? which i found crazy it means so much to mei got it at a book giveaway at a homeschool convention many many years back and opened my eyes to what people with leprosy go through in modern context though it is certainly dated poignantly written and a longtime favorite


  7. says:

    My sister tracked down a very rare copy of this book so we could reread it as adults both of us having read it in high school on the recommendation of our social studies teacher Mrs Bernstein This was a rare glimpse into the life of a woman who spent 20 years inside a Louisiana leper colony Betty Martin was a 19 year old debutante in New Orleans engaged to a handsome medical student and on the brink of her adult life when in 1929 she was diagnosed with leprosy and sent to a Louisiana leper colony in Carville This is the story of her 20 years inside Carville like a small village unto itself but surrounded by barbed wire There she not only lived to witness a cure but became an advocate for change Inside of Carville patients and staff knew the truth that Hansen's Disease was only feebly communicable Martin was one of the patients who helped make a difference in the way the disease is viewed today She and her fellow patients – along with some champions on the outside – worked tirelessly to end the stigma associated with diagnosis to educate the public to educate physicians in early diagnosis and to improve conditions for patients who back then weren't even allowed to vote This was a fascinating story about the courage and faith to keep hoping in the face of the most grim circumstances If you can get your hands on a copy it will strengthen your resolve to live your life as a empathetic and compassionate person


  8. says:

    I read this book many years ago and the title has stuck with meif you know me that is a rarity and I remember it being a very good book I should reread to justify this rating


  9. says:

    Read it long ago Forget details; but remember being very moved by the account


  10. says:

    I thought this book was beautiful and humbling reading about this woman's struggles with physical illness social stigmas and her trust in God nonetheless She was 19 when she entered Carville with Hansen's disease she changed her name so that no one would know and shun her and her family she thought she might be able to get out uickly but ended up being there for twenty years For the fear of the slight chance of passing on the disease she gave up her dreams of motherhood and was unable to even enjoy being with her family whenever she was able to visit Because of the disease she was not able to celebrate with her two sisters when they got married she was not there when her younger brother died and while she was isolated from them her father dies I cried so much at that part Her perseverance is amazing and God's grace shines throughAnother part of the book that I found so interesting was reading about how all of the patients banded together and worked towards making the future brighter for the treatment of Hansen's disease and the patients rehabilitation It was also fascinating to read about how despite the strong community between the patients and the increasingly better care and public interestconcern the patients never stop yearning for freedom For the chance to be on their own on their own and without fear I think my two favorite passages come from the end when the author finds out she was completely free from Hansen's disease the patients had to pass 12 consecutive monthly tests and her and her husband who also had had the disease and passed all 12 tests two months before her were freeOnly those who have been denied freedom can appreciate the sudden opening of a long closed doorThe final two paragraphs describing her and her husband leaving were also especially poignant after everything that she had experienced and that I too felt as the readerThe joy sorrow and excitement I was experiencing finally forced their way out in tears As we drove out of the iron gate of isolation together into the free uncertain world we had dreamed about so long I looked back wet eyed at the buildings and trees ringed with barbed wire that had held so much of Harry her husband and me Now the years of suffering and struggle seemed dwarfed by the mental and spiritual enrichment this difficult experience had brought into our lives Harry eyes ahead turned the car down the river road And with spring in the air and springtime in our hearts we drove on our unknown way knowing the road ahead would be rocky and long before we reached at last the place of our own we had talked and planned and dreamed about through the twenty lost years that could never be lost that would always be part of us Knowing this we firmly believed that if we continued to seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice that all necessary things would be given All else to the smallest flower and simplest pleasure found along the way would be His special gifts