Mapping Cholera & its Impact on Society

This combination of sources documents how Cholera’s reach forced societies throughout London to turn to alternative informants of medical knowledge in order to explain this disease’s emergence, along with how it impacted people’s perceptions of gender and community. Repeated outbreaks and high death tolls catalyzed profound social, infrastructural, and scientific transformations, yet the stimulation of broader quests for medical knowledge was also met with widespread fear and confusion. For this reason, sources such as Meteorological Observations on Cholera explore alternative reasons for which the “bad air” theory was no longer leading London down the right path of medical discovery. Similarly, the inadequate and unsanitary living conditions of London urban planning also impacted masculinity as the complex and multifaceted topic reflected broader societal norms based on emerging ideas of cleanliness. Moreover, Cholera reflected vulnerability in health for men which was often the complete opposite of their desired strength and resilience facade throughout the 19th century; for this reason, the disease’s severe physical debilitation and often rapid death undermined traditional notions of male strength and invulnerability. Women and children were also thought to have contracted this disease much easier, which is why male death tolls from Cholera were particularly dawning during this era. This combined array of sources exploring maps, astrological reports, and social inequities aims to highlight the vulnerability that disease causes in more ways than one while reflecting goals that shifted ideologies in order to save preconceived medical notions.

The Cholera Map

The Cholera Map

The map that was able to identify the cause of Cholera, as well as showcasing the outbreak in London's east end during 1866, each dot is a victim of the disease. 

A London Cholera Nest

This is an account of the Cholera disease in 1866. This excerpt explains the pattern and differing presentations that Cholera shows itself as. It also details the rest of the accounts that have been discussed and or referenced throughout the rest of the exhibit. 

Influence of Elevation on the Fatality of Cholera

Influence of Elevation on the Fatality of Cholera

This chart shows that Cholera was more fatal on the coast rather than inland of London due to the proximity to water. The chart shows that there were around 36,241 deaths from Cholera that occurred specifically where inhabitants were close to a source of water. The districts near the sea that were the most affected by Cholera during this time period were London, Bristol, Plymouth, Southhampton, Liverpool, etc. To put this even further into perspective, a ratio of 125 in 10,000 cases of Cholera were from coast districts close to ports. 

Meteorlogical Observations on Cholera (1854)

Meteorological Observations on Cholera

This paper details the number of deaths between August and September of 1854 when the author claims that Cholera was at its worst in London. Furthermore, there are ideas and claims that have been made in other medical journals, such as Cholera being less present and sever when London, or any of the affected areas, were more windy. Again the author says, as many other medical men from this era have claimed, that during the month of October the severity of Cholera and the frequency of cases started to rise again because of the lack of wind, which was pushing the disease further away from the population. The paper also details how different the actual nature and atmosphere of the affected area was, and how much more dull and death-like it became. 

Germ Theory of Disease in Victorian Cholera Satire

Germ Theory of Disease in Victorian Cholelra Satire

This theory was introduced this John Snow's investigation into the water quality and its relation to the Cholera disease. But despite his discoveries, the medical men and their offices continued to be skeptical towards his claims because Snow himself was not of the medical profession. This illustrtion shows a satirical take on what the medical men were ignoring when deciding to remain skeptical towards Snow. 

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