31 August 1854 (HU)


Why I decided to begin the narrative on the day before the outbreak was recognized.

Confirming Florence Nightingale’s sojourn at the Middlesex Hospital.

(Historical problem/literature review/preliminary thesis statement)

Crafting the Nightingale narratives.

(Revised thesis statement/the narrative form/additional documentation)

Cholera theories.

(The epidemic constitution/Asiatic cholera/contingent contagion/infection as medium of contagion/local miasmatists/pragmatic contingent contagion/Snow on cholera)

Farr and Snow at the General Register Office (GRO).

(Impure water and the propagation of cholera in South London [SoLo]/the SoLo denominator problem/Snow’s SoLo analysis in MCC2 [Mode of Communication of Cholera, 2nd edition]/historical continuity vs. historical change/the narrative form/additional documentation & unpacking)

Dr. Stewart and Florence Nightingale at the Middlesex Hospital.

(The narrative form/additional documentation & unpacking)

Henry Whitehead and the Hopkins Street Widow.

(The narrative form)


 Thursday, 31 August 1854

A normal day during a cholera epidemic in metropolitan London. Figures from the seventh week of the epidemic, ending the previous Saturday, were available: 847 fatalities from Asiatic cholera in a population greater than two and a quarter million. Worrisome, but not as severe as the number carried off by cholera during the seventh week of the 1849 epidemic. In fact, there were hopeful signs in the current epidemic’s weekly progress: just 5 dead during the first week, followed by 26, 133, 399, 644, 729, and 847 in subsequent weeks (MTG 1854, 249). Was this visitation on the cusp of peaking?

No such luck. To have the individuals I feature in the historical narratives engage in an exchange of theoretical views after all hell broke loose the following day would have been artificial and stilted. So I chose to begin the story on a day of hope in order to discuss theories of cholera causation and propagation that, while tacit knowledge amongst the participants, need to be unpacked if we are to be just in our assessments of actions taken during the point-source outbreak centered in Broad Street. . . .

To continue, click here (revised 20 Jan 2015).