The Mapping Cholera project looks at two cholera epidemics almost two centuries apart: one in 1832 in New York and the other in 2010 in Haiti. The epidemic in Haiti was the worst cholera outbreak in recent history and it left the country reeling. The spread of the disease, unlike during the epidemic in New York, was diligently documented by Doctors Without Borders and Sonia Shah. The challenge was to digitally map the New York epidemic that took place two decades before John Snow’s famous mapping of cholera in London (1854). Sonia took historical records from doctors of the time and combined them with 19th century maps of the city, which had been geocoded by the New York Public Library.
In mapping the two cholera outbreaks, this project allows us to visualise the spread of the disease, the differences and similarities between the two epidemics, and renders visible the magnitude and scale of this disease.