02 March 2017

Ancestors and a Glass of Water

If you went back in time and one of your ancestors offered you a glass of water, would you drink it?

How will you know whether cholera is or is not present?

How will you even know that the glass is clean?

How has contaminated water affected your family history?

What do you know about cholera and other waterborne and foodborne illnesses?

Cholera is still a problem in the world today, as are many other diseases.  Before visiting areas where cholera tends to be prevalent, I have been vaccinated against it.

There were many cholera outbreaks in Europe in the 19th century, including Britain.  Even the wealthy were affected.  There were several cholera outbreaks and pandemics.

Before 1854, people often assumed cholera was caused by contaminated air.  Medical science was still in its infancy then.

Do you ever take science for granted?

Do you ever take hygiene for granted?

Do you ever take medical advances for granted?

Do you ever take history for granted?

Do you ever take health for granted?

I briefly mentioned cholera and other diseases in a blog post of a year or so ago:

Finsbury Park and London family history

I have wondered whether my London relatives were affected by the cholera pandemic of 1863-75.  I still have no idea why most of my great, great grandmother's family died in the space of just a few years.

An orphan in the family

Her granddaughter, my grandmother, loved a cup of tea.  I loved having a cup of tea with my grandmother. 

Boiling the already purified water through the convenience of electricity would have been amazing to many of our ancestors.  Having that water supply in the house itself would have been beyond belief to them.  Yet cholera travelled along trade routes, including those bringing tea to Britain.

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I especially appreciate historical insights.