Microscopic Monsters and the Victorian Cleanliness Campaigns

The Silent Highway Man

Nineteenth-century London was notoriously filthy; manure covered the streets, thick black smoke choked daylight and oxygen out of the air, and rotting corpses emitted stenches so foul that residents were convinced dead bodies were the source of airborne illness. In this era questions of pollution and public health went hand-in-hand. Cartoons tackling these interrelated issues are the focus of this archive; click through to discover how Londoners visualized the relationship between dirt and disease over the long nineteenth century.

The core of this project, the "Microscopic Monsters Map," features illustrations and texts satirizing pollution problems of the air, water, and home. 

The "Interactive Timeline" provides a different way of engaging with these same materials. It allows you to scroll through different decades, making images from specific decades appear and disappear on the map as you go.

Microscopic Monsters Map

Interactive Timeline