John Snow came from a humble background but worked hard to become a doctor. A well-respected physician, he lived simply and focused his energies on medical research. He first specialized in using ether and chloroform as anesthesia. One of his patients was Queen Victoria (1819–1901), who requested anesthesia during childbirth. Snow also did extensive door-to-door neighborhood research, against the opinions of others, to discover that polluted water coming from the Broad Street pump caused the devastating 1854 cholera outbreak. Sickly as a child and young man, Snow died young, before receiving full credit for discovering waterborne bacteria as the agent of disease. His reputation remains high in medical research and practice.
Henry Whitehead spent much of his career in the area of Soho near St. Luke's Church. He knew many of the families and individuals affected by the cholera epidemic. Reading the findings of John Snow helped Whitehead locate the all-important "index case" of cholera, which caused the 1854 outbreak. He continued to support Snow's findings after the doctor's early death. After leaving London, he worked with troubled youth.