EPIBEL @Spatial Humanities 2022, Ghent

At the Spatial Humanities 2022 Conference hosted in Ghent, Isabelle Devos talked about “The 1866 cholera epidemic in Brussels: a spatio-temporal reconstruction“, and expands on previous work. In this contribution, we examine who were the main victims of the epidemic in Brussels and show the course of the epidemic across the city from the first death to the last. By making use of exisiting databases such as the historical GIS Brussels (the digital map of nineteenth-century Brussels), POPPKAD (the database of the nineteenth-century Belgian cadastre) and LOKSTAT (the historical database of local statistics), we were able to reconstruct a fairly complete picture of the 1866 cholera epidemic in Brussels, from the first death on 26 May and the last death on 15 November (175 days, 25 weeks).

The wealth of Brussels’ data has allowed us to draw fascinating maps, as shown here https://www.queteletcenter.ugent.be/en/cholera-in-brussels/. Also make sure to check out our timelapse of the 1866 outbreak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-xDez7S4ks&ab_channel=QueteletCenter! Next up is an in-depth study of the Brussels’ sewerage system: Using info on sewerage by street and access to drinking water by household, we will examine next its relation to the spatial-temporal distribution of cholera deaths to get a better understanding of the transmission routes of the epidemic.