Steampunk inspiration and resources

New York City “Stench Map”

Stench MapAt the London Museum of Water and Steam I learned a lot about the misunderstandings that people during the steam era had when it came to disease transmission. It wasn’t until a study conducted by John Snow in1854 that people really began to grasp that a bacterial infection like cholera could come from contaminated water. Instead, many people prescribed to the “miasma theory”, which hypothesized that pollution (ie bad smells) were the cause of infection. The map above is from the 1870s, and shows an effort to chart the potential for illness based on the bad smells in different neighborhoods. I borrowed from an article on, and you can read the full text here.


But before they were busy charting stenches, this notice from the 1830s warned people away from fruit and booze.

Yet another reason that I love to learn about the steam era, but I am very happy to be living in this century!



5 responses

  1. Considering that when most food smells off, it actually is bad, it’s not surprising that their line of thought leaned toward the cause of disease. Oh, and thanks for following. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm

  2. Reblogged this on Cogpunk Steamscribe and commented:
    For those Steampunk writers who like to add gritty real-life details.


    May 20, 2015 at 7:00 pm

  3. Isn’t this era fascinating?!! I’ve been re4searching my family history through the wider context of social history and these sort of snippets, as you know, add so much texture. I really do try to put mysself into their shoes as much as possible.
    By the way, I heard Claire Tomlin speak about her biography of Dickens yesterday and she’s really converted me. She really encouraged us to read his letters. Have you looked at these at all? She read one out he really described the era so well. I’ve touched on that in my post about the SWF today xx Rowena


    May 22, 2015 at 1:14 am

    • Ooohh, no! I haven’t read any of the Dickens letters but that sounds fascinating. I hope to get to SWF next year, maybe I’ll see you there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      May 22, 2015 at 1:43 am

      • Diving into Dickens is certainly starting to feel like diving into a never ending pond. He was so prolific. I really am going to try to at least dip my toe in nthe water.

        Liked by 1 person

        May 22, 2015 at 2:01 am

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