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Interpreting the Evidence

Refuse in a City Alley, 1913

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Refuse in a City Alley, 1913 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
A pile of garbage in a city alley, May 1913.
Historical Context
Poor or absent sanitation facilities throughout cities and rural areas created many health problems for communities.  One fast-spreading epidemic was cholera. Many parts of New York State experienced this scary disease.  Cholera was  caused by drinking and eating food and water which were contaminated by someone else who already had cholera.
Essential Question
How do human settlement patterns impact individual health and well being?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain the impact of these conditions on the individuals living in this community.
Historical Challenges
Research the Industrial Revolution and the impact it had on the cholera epidemic.
How was immigration affected by this global epidemic?
How did New York City's Ellis Island handle the cholera epidemic?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Science: Research the discovery of antibiotics and the impact it has had on life expectancy rates.
English Language Arts: Write a journal entry from the perspective of a child living in a community in which a number of people have died from this disease. What are other people doing to protect themselves? What conditions exist that contribute to the spread of the disease? What social class do people belong to, and how does this affect the spread of the disease?