This essay presents an overview of the collection, management and uses of historical documents at Kikuchi Keifūen, one of National Sanatoriums of Hansen’s Disease. It also suggests that the creation of a regional archive for the documents will encourage both academic research and societal use of the documents.
Since its opening in 1909, Kikuchi Keifūen has amassed a large number of documents. So far about 30,000 historical documents have been collected at the Social Exchange Hall and History Museum.
Some materials have been used in academic works by historians. Others have been used in educational outreaches. A particularly important outreach was organized in 2016 as an educational workshop for four students of Kumamoto University. The students read historical documents, conducted oral interviews with the residents, and finally replicated a scene from one of the court cases in which the patients were involved. This scene was exhibited at Kikuchi Keifūen from the winter of 2016 until the summer of 2017.
The academic studies of the documents and the uses of the historical materials suggest that the idea of the regional archive, in which the historical documents will be kept and managed at the site of the life of the patients and ex-patients, is a good starting point. The idea will secure the resources easily and will develop further interactions, which will establish monuments for the lives and the memories of the ex-patients.