Willard Cope Brinton is credited as one of the pioneers of information visualization, and I just found out his 1939 book Graphic Presentation is available in its entirety at the Internet Archive. You can download it in various formats. The book was an update to his previous book from 25 years prior, Graphic Methods for Presenting Facts. It’s also at the Archive.
It’s always fun to read through these older publications. Naturally, there’s the historical significance and pretty graphs, along with tidbits on printing processes and paper (whatever those are).
But they talk about a lot of the same stuff that we do now—perception, narratives, attention, and all that—which always catches me off guard because we tend to think of visualization as this relatively new thing. Then it’s like oh wait, someone did this more than a century ago.