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"John Snow & the cholera epidemic in mid-19th century London: 7 datasets with documentation for use in GeoDa."

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(25 September 2020)A preprint


John Snow’s quest to discover how cholera was transmitted during the mid-nineteenth century in London has become a classic case for teaching spatial data analysis, causal inference, scientific reasoning, quasi-experimental research design, and spatial epidemiology. In this PDF, the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science makes available existing datasets (some with modifications), all related to Snow’s Broad Street and South London investigations, for teaching and learning exploratory spatial data analysis via its GeoDa software.

Six of the datasets pertain to Snow’s illustration of mortality in the cholera field surrounding the Broad Street pump depicted in On the Mode of Communication of Cholera (1855), map 1: Individual cholera deaths in the RHist package compiled by Waldo Tobler in 1994; cholera deaths aggregated to buildings and blocks, shared by Robin Wilson (2011) and Arribas-Bel et al. (2017); pump locations shared by Wilson (2011); and new datasets that aggregate cholera deaths in concentric rings around pump locations, based on Tobler, Wilson, and Arribas-Bel et al. The seventh dataset integrates attribute data at the subdistrict level from Snow’s South London investigation, prepared by Tom Coleman (2019; 2020). The spatial boundaries for these subdistricts were previously not publicly available in electronic format.

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