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Ideas about the cause of disease/What was the cause of the cholera outbreak in Soho in 1854?

Learning Outcomes:

To identify the main beliefs in the early 19th Century about the causes of cholera (miasma, spontaneous generation) and evaluate to what extent these beliefs changed as a result of John Snow’s research.


* Students identify, from a range of primary sources, what was believed to cause cholera in the early 19th Century.
* Students use an interactive map to investigate the Soho cholera outbreak of 1854 to try to establish the cause of the outbreak.

What did people think caused Cholera?

Listen to these three recitals of advise given at the time of the second major cholera outbreak: Extract one, Extract two, Extract three. (External links to the National Archives website).

What parts of the advise are good and which parts are bad? Share your thoughts on this page.

Look at the sources on this site. There are a number of questions on the site for each source. Click on the links to the source material and answer the questions.

Now go to this page on the National Archives website. Search the map to see how many people died of Cholera in each area. Then answer the questions at the foot of the page to show whhether or not it supports John Snow's findings. To see how the deaths occured in phases, view the interactive map on this website.

When you have completed that task, take a look at this flash game. In it, you have to decide whether suggestions are good advice or bad advice - will you cure the cholera patient?

Then look at this page and consider the way in which infectious diseases affected industrial towns.

What the Victorians did for us - playing god.

Watch this video to get an overview of how John Snow worked out what the cause of the cholera outbreak at Broad Street was. For a video about the Cholera outbreak in Manchester go to this page of the website and select clip 4










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