Friday, May 20, 2016

Maps and Myths: John Snow and the Cholera Epidemic

In this article, Brody et al. discuss the legend of John Snow and his use of the spot map to "predict" cholera and track its spread while solving the cause of it. However, John Snow's map, which he first made in December 1854, was incorrect in some ways, and the "government" actually had a more accurate and detailed map. This article also discusses Edmund Cooper's map which he made before Snow. Cooper was an engineer for the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers and was the first to make a map of the outbreak.

Brody, H., Rip, M. R., Vinten-Johansen, P., Paneth, N., & Rachman, S. (2000). Map-making and myth-making in Broad Street: the London cholera epidemic, 1854. The Lancet356(9223), 64-68.


  1. After reading and hearing about the work of Snow I was blown away. His work is highly advanced for the time period in which he created his maps. I have no doubt that his revolutionary work has been the footstool to many GIS practices that we use today.

  2. It seems that many long-time "heroes" are being ousted as not being quite as impactful as they are made out to be in history books. Do you think the changing reputation of these historical figures will in some way morph our current-day perception of their impact?