Category Archives: Victorian Era

Illustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic (1897) – Part 3

Today is the third and final part of my series of selected images from a massive late 19th century tome entitled simply Magic, subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, compiled and edited by Albert A. Hopkins. The book takes a thorough tour through the popular magic tricks and illusions of the day, including along the way many delightfully surreal diagrams and illustrations.

I will warn you now that this third part of this blog will show some particularly great “decapitation” trick photographs.

(All images taken from the book housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library.) [SOURCE]

Best Regards,

Michael

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Illustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic (1897) – Part 2

Today is Part 2 of selected images from a massive late 19th century tome entitled simply Magic, subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, compiled and edited by Albert A. Hopkins. The book takes a thorough tour through the popular magic tricks and illusions of the day, including along the way many delightfully surreal diagrams and illustrations.

The third part of this blog will show some particularly great “decapitation” trick photographs.

(All images taken from the book housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library.) [SOURCE]

Best Regards,

Michael

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Illustrations from a Victorian Book on Magic (1897) – Part 1

The Great Houdini by Beryl Williams & Samuel Epstein I become interested in magic in the 5th grade of elementary school. Through Scholastic Books Services, I purchased The Great Houdini by Beryl Williams & Samuel Epstein for fifty cents. When I got home from school, I started reading the book and stayed up all night reading it until it was finished.

Over the years, I have visited the Houdini Museum in Niagara Falls, Canada (now burned down), visited his grave in New York, followed auctions of his memorabilia, and have read many books that probe deeper into his life. I occasionally do magic performances for my wife’s K-3 kids at the school she retired from.

So, to say the least, I truly do love magic.

Below, and over the next several blogs, are selected images from a massive late 19th century tome entitled simply Magic, subtitled Stage Illusions and Scientific Diversions, including Trick Photography, compiled and edited by Albert A. Hopkins. The book takes a thorough tour through the popular magic tricks and illusions of the day, including along the way many delightfully surreal diagrams and illustrations.

The third part of this blog will show some particularly great “decapitation” trick photographs.

(All images taken from the book housed at the Internet Archive, contributed by the California Digital Library.) [SOURCE]

Best Regards,

Michael

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DataViz History: The Ghost Map: Building a Case and The Pump Handle

pump2Dr. John Snow is credited with taking bold action when he sensed that contaminated water from the public pump on Broad Street was the cause of deadly cholera during the 1854 outbreak in London. Here is what he wrote of his legendary action on September 7, 1854. [SOURCE]

HANDLE OF THE BROAD STREET PUMP

“I had an interview with the Board of Guardians of St. James’s parish, on the evening of Thursday, 7th September, and represented the above circumstances to them. In consequence of what I said, the handle of the pump was removed on the following day.”

- John Snow in his 1855 book

So who was the parish Board of Guardians and why did they respond as they did to Dr. Snow’s recommendation?

BOARD OF GUARDIANS

In England, the parish is the fundamental tier of local government. Saint James’s parish encompassed the region serviced by the Broad Street pump. The Board of Guardians was elected by local citizens, but only those who owned property, thereby excluding many ordinary people. The voters were usually small tradesmen or shopkeepers who were concerned with public safety and order. The Board of Guardians was responsible, among other concerns, for maintaining public health, but relied on the advice of medical practitioners such as Dr. Snow.

There were several views of what happened on September 7, 1854 when Dr. John Snow spoke to the Board of Guardians at the Vestry Hall near his home and the impact thereafter on the Broad Street outbreak.

VIEW OF A GOOD FRIEND

Snow’s good friend, Dr. Benjamin Richardson, wrote years later in 1858 of the September 7th meeting.

“When the Vestry (the term used for a committee of members elected to administer the temporal affairs of a parish) men were in solemn deliberation they were called to consider a new suggestion. A stranger had asked in a modest speech for a brief hearing. Dr. Snow, the stranger, was admitted, and in a few words explained his view of the ‘head and front of the offending’. He had fixed his attention on the Broad Street pump as the source and center of the calamity. He advised the removal of the pump handle as the grand prescription. The Vestry was incredulous but had the good sense to carry out the advice. The pump handle was removed and the plague was stayed. There arose, hereupon, much discussion among the learned… but it matters little for the plague was stayed.”

VIEW OF A LOCAL PHYSICIAN

lankester1862In 1866, twelve years after the event, Dr. Edwin Lankester wrote further of the pump handle incident. He was a member of a local group that looked into the causes of the Broad Street outbreak, and was later to become the first medical officer of health for the St. James’s district (the area where the outbreak occurred.

“The Board of Guardians met to consult as to what ought to be done. Of that meeting, the late Dr. Snow demanded an audience. He was admitted and gave it as his opinion that the pump in Broad Street, and that pump alone, was the cause of all the pestilence. He was not believed — not a member of his own profession, not an individual in the parish believed that Snow was right. But the pump was closed nevertheless and the plague was stayed.”

VIEW OF A LOCAL CLERGYMAN

At the time of the Broad Street pump outbreak, Reverend Henry Whitehead was a 29-year-old cleric at a church in the Broad Street area. He became interested in the epidemic and conducted his own investigation, independent of Dr. Snow.

The Index Case?

mother_infantRev. Whitehead may have discovered the origin of the Broad Street pump outbreak, which started on August 30, 1854. An infant girl at 40 Broad Street near the pump had an attack of diarrhea on August 28-29 that lead to her death on September 2nd. The mother described to Rev. Whitehead how, during her baby’s illness, she had steeped its soiled napkins in pails of water and had emptied some of these into the cesspool at the front of the house. Whitehead was struck by the dangerous proximity of the cesspool to the pump well and convinced a government engineer to examine the area. This examination revealed the seepage of fecal matter through the decayed brickwork of the 40broadstreet_smallcesspool to the well which was less than three feet away. If the child had died of cholera (which Whitehead supposed), then this likely would have been the index case that started the Broad Street pump outbreak.

For more on the index case at 40 Broad Street, click here.

Reverend Whitehead’s views on the effects of the Board of Guardians removing the pump handle were presented in 1867, thirteen years after the outbreak had occurred.

“It is commonly supposed and sometimes asserted even at meetings of Medical Societies that the Broad Street outbreak of cholera in 1854 was arrested in mid-career by the closing of the pump in that street. That this is a mistake is sufficiently shown by the following table which, though incomplete, proves that the outbreak had already reached its climax, and had been steadily on the decline for several days before the pump-handle was removed.”

The table he presented showed how the number of fatal cholera attacks had diminished from 142 on September 1st, to 14 on September 8th, the day on which the pump was closed. Thereafter the new fatal cholera cases fell to single figures and slowly dwindled away.

Whitehead went on in his presentation.

“I must not omit to mention that if the removal of the pump-handle had nothing to do with checking the outbreak which had already run its course, it had probably everything to do with preventing a new outbreak, for the father of the infant, who slept in the same kitchen, was attacked with cholera on the very day (September 8th) on which the pump-handle was removed. There can be no doubt that his discharges found their way into the cesspool and thence to the well. But, thanks to Dr. Snow, the handle was then gone.”

SNOW’S THOUGHTS ON CHOLERA

A month after the September 8th removal of the pump handle, Dr. Snow spoke of his views on cholera before the Medical Society of London on October 14, 1854. An account of his talk appeared in the October 21st issue of the The Lancet.

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Was his action important, based on sound logic and understanding of the local situation? Or did John Snow and the Board of Guardians over-react?

Contemporary epidemiologists view removing the pump handle as appropriate, and honor Snow’s action to safeguard the public, even in the face of biological and epidemiological uncertainty.

Next: Myth-Making and Evolution of the Ghost Map

Sources:

Brody H et al. The Pharos 62(1), 2-8, 1999.

Chave, SPW. Medical History 11(2), 92-109, 1958.

English MP. Victorian Values — The Live and Times of Dr. Edwin Lankester, 1990.

Rivett, G. The Development of the London Hospital System, 1986.

The Lancet 67, 339-41, 1854.

DataViz History: The Ghost Map: Index Case at 40 Broad Street

40broadstreet_smallDid the index (or first) case of the Broad Street Pump outbreak live at 40 Broad Street, close to the pump? Reverend Henry Whitehead thought so after a detailed investigation of cholera cases in 1854 following the outbreak. [SOURCE]

The woman living at 40 Broad Street (Sarah Lewis, wife of police constable Thomas Lewis) lost both her five-month old child, Frances, and husband to cholera. In the four to five-day interval between her child’s onset of diarrhea on August 28-29, 1854 and subsequent death on September 2, 1854, Mrs. Lewis had soaked the diarrhea-soiled diapers in pails of water. Thereafter she emptied the pails in the cesspool opening in front of her house.

Likely baby Lewis had Vibrio cholerae which contaminated the napkin used to absorb diarrhea. Reverend Whitehead conveyed his suspicion concerning the possible index case to the Medical Committee of the Board of Guardians responsible for the public health of the area. The Board sent a surveyor to assess the situation. He created a diagram of the home and cesspool and reported that decayed brickwork in the cesspool resulted in seepage of fecal debris to the Broad Street pump which was about three feet away (see picture).

house40aThe death certificate for baby Frances was filled out by Dr. William Rogers, a local physician. doctor who had attended baby Frances at 40 Broad Street opined in a detailed letter to Reverend Whitehead that the cause of death was acute diarrhea, not cholera, an opinion that he repeated at a meeting of the London Epidemiological Society. Since Vibrio cholerae was not discovered until 1884, it is doubtful that Dr. Rogers could have accurately distinguished by signs and symptoms alone non-cholera acute diarrhea and cholera diarrhea. Thus Whitehead’s theory is certainly plausible that the infant at 40 Broad Street was the index case.

Thomas Lewis, the baby’s father, came down with a fatal attack of cholera on September 8, 1854, the same day that the Board of Guardians had the Broad Street pump handle removed. Assuming wife Sarah Lewis poured water from his soiled garments into the household cesspool, it is likely that water of the Broad Street pump would have remain a source of further infection, if the handle had not been removed.

CESSPOOLS

Why was the cesspool at 40 Broad Street not maintained? Such neglect was increasingly common in London, due in part to economic circumstances. At the time of the Broad Street pump outbreak, London had about two hundred thousand cesspools. For many years, the contents of the cesspools were sold as agricultural manure to be used as fertilizer in the many farms that surrounded London. The money earned from manure sales would then be used to maintain the cesspools. Yet during the nineteenth century as London’s population grew ever more rapidly, farms were forced to move further from the central city. Transportation costs increased, adding to the expense of acquiring cesspool-based manure. Starting in 1847, another change took place that undercut the sale of cesspool manure. Solidified bird droppings (or guano) were brought in as fertilizer from South America at a price far below cesspool manure.

With no economic incentive to sell their feces, poor people would empty human wastes into the streets, or directly into the London waterways. Most lacked public health understanding of how disease was spread, as did many medical and health officials of the times. In the absence of manure sales, cesspools became expensive to clean. As a result, they were poorly maintained and infrequently emptied. Over time this neglect lead to cracks and crevices, which offered opportunities for the spread of enteric pathogens. Such spread of Vibrio cholerae probably occurred at 40 Broad Street.

Given the diarrhea symptoms of the young infant and the assessment of the cesspool by the surveyor, Reverend Whitehead likely determined the index case that started the infamous Broad Street pump outbreak.

Sources:

Boylan, D. Personal Communication, 2009.

Brody H et al. The Pharos 62(1), 2-8, 1999.

Chave, SPW. Medical History 11(2), 92-109, 1958.

Halliday, S. The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis, 1999.

Paneth N. et al. American Journal of Public Health 88(10), 1545-1553, October 1998.

Vinten-Johansen, P et al. Cholera, Chloroform, and the Science of Medicine. A life of John Snow, 2003.

DataViz History: The Ghost Map: Reverend Henry Whitehead

220px-Whitehead_henry1884Although he had no formal medical education, the epidemiology of cholera intrigued Reverend Whitehead. So who was this religious leader and how did he get interested in cholera? [SOURCE]

REVEREND WHITEHEAD

Reverend Henry Whitehead (1825-96), shown here in 1884 at age 59, was born on September 22,1825 in the seaside town of Ramsgate (middle center ) in Kent by the Straits of Dover. His father was master at Chatham House, a small public school in the area. Henry was the eighth of ten children and grew up in the school, where later he became an assistant master. In 1847 at age 22, he left home and his potential teaching position to attend Lincoln College, University of Oxford. It was here that he made up his mind to enter the Anglican Church.  After obtained his B.A. in 1850, he left for London to seek ordination.

His first employment was as assistant curate (e.g., junior priest) with the Vicar of St. Luke’s Church, Berwick Street (center right, labelled “ch” above King Street ) in Soho, London, near the home of Dr. John Snow and the future site of the Broad Street cholera outbreak. Saint Luke’s had been completely rebuilt in a decorated Gothic style in 1838-9 and was popular in the parish that included Broad Street and its environs. Following his ordination as a deacon in 1851, Whitehead took up his duties among the residents of the crowded slums of the Berwick Street area and became a welcome visitor in the homes of his parishioners.  His friendliness and social acceptance would proved to be his greatest asset when the outbreak occurred that August of 1854.

When Whitehead walked through his Soho neighborhood, it was usually a meandering, sociable one: he stopped at the local coffee shop where machinists from the local factory ate. He stopped and visited parishioners in their homes. He even stopped by and visited inmates at the St. James Workhouse, where 500 of London’s poorest citizens lived and were forced to do hard labor. Whitehead sometimes stopped off at the Eley Brothers factory where 150 employees worked producing the new “percussion cap” that enabled firearms to work in any weather. The Crimean War was raging and business was good for the Eley Brothers.

At the Lion Brewery on Broad Street, the 70 workers did their jobs while sipping malt liquor provided to them as part of their wages. Reverend Whitehead knew most people by name and his walk would involve a steady stream of sidewalk and parlor conversations. In the early morning and at nightfall, his parishioners would pour into St. Luke’s for daily services. After services, people would flock to the various street vendors around the church. But one single location seemed to be at the center of it all. One of life’s great necessities.

The best tasting water in Soho. It came from the Broad Street Pump.

Next: The Broad Street Pump

How To Take a Steam Bath: Victorian Visual Health Guides

The history of health is peppered with gorgeous anatomical flap-ups, strange medical art, and vibrant vintage illustrations, with a side of beautifully illustrated pseudoscience. But few come close to these vintage gems from the early 1900s, found in a French edition of Friedrich Eduard Bilz’s 1888 naturopathic medicine guide Das Neue Naturheilverfahren (The New Natural Healing (public library). Charmingly illustrated in the familiar style of early twentieth-century medical art, they offer visual directions to various methods of curing disease, from steam baths to massage to swimming. [SOURCE]

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