Snow, John

Portrait
Born: Mar 15, 1813 AD
Died: 1858 AD, at 45 years of age.

Nationality: British
Categories: Physicians


1813 - John, the eldest son of a farmer, was born at York on March 15th. Dr. John Snow, a legendary figure in the history of public health, epidemiology and anesthesiology.

1827 - He was educated at a private school in his native city until the age of fourteen, when he was apprenticed to William Hardcastle, a surgeon living at Newcastle-on-Tyne. During his apprentice-ship he became a vegetarian and total abstainer.  

1831-1832 - After serving for a short time as a colliery surgeon and unqualified assistant during the cholera epidemic.

1836 - He became a student at the Hunterian school of medicine in Great Windmill Street, London.

1838 - He began to attend the medical practice at the Westminster Hospital in the following October, and in October he became a licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries.

         - Admitted member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on May 2nd.  

1844-1850 - He graduated M.D. of the University of London on December 20th and he was admitted a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians.

1841 - He attended with great regularity the meetings of the Westminster Medical Society, where on October 16th he read a paper on "Asphyxia and on the Resuscitation of New-born Children".

1846 - Snow's attention was arrested by the properties of ether, then newly adopted in America as an anaesthetizing agent.  

         - He made great improvements in the method of administering the drug, and then obtained permission to demonstrate his results in the dental out-patient room at St. George's Hospital.

1849 - He acted for a short time as lecturer on forensic medicine at the Aldersgate Street school of medicine, an appointment which lapsed when the school came to an end.]

         - Snow's scientific insight was due the theory that cholera is communicated by means of a contaminated water-supply, and his essay upon the mode of communication of cholera, which was first published and was awarded by the Institute of France a prize of 1,200.

1852 - The society, which afterwards became the Medical Society of London, selected him orator for the ensuing year, and on March 10th he was inducted into the president's chair.  

1853- Snow had so well balanced a mind that he appreciated the value of other anaesthetizing agents, more particularly chloroform, a drug which he administered to the queen on April 7th, during the birth of Prince Leopold, and again at the birth of Princess Beatrice.

1854-1855 - A second edition was published, with a much more elaborate investigation of the effect of the water-supply on certain districts of South London in the epidemic.  

1858 - Snow died unmarried on June 16th, and was buried in the Brompton cemetery.

2003 - On March survey by Hospital Doctor magazine, John Snow was voted the "greatest doctor" of all time. While the poll was likely biased with over-representation of John Snow supporters, the findings do point to the increased prominence of Dr. Snow among contemporary physicians.
Page last updated: 12:51am, 21st Mar '07
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