Pegboard invented to prevent spreading leprosy?

Saw this posted elsewhere, seemed too farfetched to be true.

If so, when did someone think to put hooks in all those holes?

You’re going to need to give us a lot more context. Who posted this, where? How was it supposed to work? Is this supposed to be the first use ever for a piece of wood with holes in it, or just for wood with a particular sort of holes?

The claim that pegboard was “created accidentally” by a Dr. Matthew Johnston in 1897 in an effort to create a cure for leprosy was added to the Wikipedia article on 30 Sep 2009 by an anonymous editor, and was reverted on 19 Jan 2010 with the comment “bogus history”. I can’t find any other reference to Dr. Matthew Johnston. I think it was either an urban legend, or simply vandalism.

Googling “pegboard leprosy”, the first link that comes up is this very thread. A little further down, I saw this:

None of the references are relevant to this claim. Further googling “pegboard leprosy Dr. Matthew Johnston” goes nowhere. For something untrue shared on the internet, it’s surprisingly non-viral.

I’m finding references that this information used to be on Wikipedia, but is no longer in the article. For instance this quotes it as:

Pegboard was invented in 1897, and was created accidentally in a laboratory by Dr. Matthew Johnston in an effort to create a cure for Leprosy. Originally the material was intended to shield the leper from spreading the disease, but the substance was found to be useless for that purpose.

Looking at the history of the Wikipedia entry, it was there added in September 2009 and removed in January 2010. It seems to be a steaming pile of horseshit.

There’s a difference between a cure and something that prevents contagion, nevertheless I’ll be darned if I can see how pegboard could be either. I’m also at a loss to imagine how it could be created accidentally.

Perhaps as alluded by DrCube this is that rarest of internet creatures – a made-up story so flagrantly and egregiously ridiculous that no one got suckered into believing it.

Well, hang up that trope.

I could see someone trying to make a partition that separates the ill from the healthy and coming up with pegboard. One that lets some sound and light through but hopefully not the germs. But I don’t see why they’d want it for leprosy. Leprosy is not very contagious. I could see a use in a quarantine area or a sanitarium for some more contagious disease. Googling didn’t find anything along those lines, though.

I have a vague memory of having heard something like this before, but can’t remember where or when.

Seems like a piece of cloth would be cheaper and more effective than a pegboard.

It hasn’t always been known that leprosy is one of the least contagious diseases in existence. I’m not sure when that was discovered. In ancient times, leprosy was thought to be very contagious; hence leper colonies.

Thanks for all the excellent replies, the obscure trope can be safely debunked.

As far as the true nature and purpose of pegboard is concerned, did find this…

Popular Science, January 1949, Page 223

More than likely something older can be found but this will probably do for now.

Way off topic, but OMG look at that health insurance ad!!