Florence Nightingale’s use of data visualization to persuade in the 19th century

For Scientific American, RJ Andrews looks back at the visualization work of Florence Nightingale:

Recognizing that few people actually read statistical tables, Nightingale and her team designed graphics to attract attention and engage readers in ways that other media could not. Their diagram designs evolved over two batches of publications, giving them opportunities to react to the efforts of other parties also jockeying for influence. These competitors buried stuffy graphic analysis inside thick books. In contrast, Nightingale packaged her charts in attractive slim folios, integrating diagrams with witty prose. Her charts were accessible and punchy. Instead of building complex arguments that required heavy work from the audience, she focused her narrative lens on specific claims. It was more than data visualization—it was data storytelling.

Be sure to also check out Andrews’ upcoming book on Nightingale, which is one part of a three-part series.