history

3 posts
1950 Census released by U.S. National Archives

For privacy reasons, there’s a 72-year restriction on individual Census records, which include names and addresses. It’s 72 years today since the release of the 1950 Census. The scanned paper records are available for browsing and downloading. Tags: archive, census, history

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David Rumsey Map Center, cataloging historical works

The David Rumsey Map Center at Stanford houses hundreds of thousands of maps dating back to the 1500s. Andres Picon for San Francisco Chronicle wrote about the collection: At the heart of that endeavor is the digitization of Rumsey’s vast physical collection, a project he began in the late 1990s when he launched davidrumsey.com, a constantly growing aggregation of about 112,000 digitized historical maps from his personal inventory. Rumsey, 77,...

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Olympic champions versus past Olympians

With the 2020 Olympics wrapped up, The New York Times raced this year’s medal winners against previous medalists to provide context for the new records set in Tokyo. The simplified style of the animations gave me Sega Game Gear flashbacks. NYT made similar comparisons in 2012 with videos for track and field events. The more static 2016 rendition, which focused on Usain Bolt and previous 100-meter winners, is still favorite....

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Graphs before anyone knew what they were

Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer have a new book out: A History of Data Visualization and Graphic Communication. They rewind back 400 years and discuss the beginnings of visualization, when nobody knew what a chart was. Putting this in my queue and hoping it’s back in stock soon. Visualization still seems like a relatively new thing. It’s old. Tags: book, history, Howard Wainer, Michael Friendly, New Yorker

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Information Graphic Visionaries, a book series

The Information Graphic Visionaries book series just launched on Kickstarter. Emma Willard, Florence Nightingale, and Étienne-Jules Marey are the subjects of three books, each including high-resolution images of the creators’ works and essays that provide historical context. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired, I like to flip through old works. It always amazes me what past visualization practitioners were able to make without a computer. Oftentimes the detail and creativity surpass what...

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Exhibition of historical visualization

RJ Andrews, in collaboration with the David Rumsey Map Center, curated a collection of historical data visualization: Data visualization leapt from its Enlightenment origins and into the minds of the general public in the 1760s. It cast more powerful spells throughout the following century. By 1900, modern science, technology, and social movements had all benefited from this new quantitative art. Its inventions include the timeline, bar chart, and thematic map....

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Visualizing black America in 1900

The visualization work of W.E.B. Du Bois and his students has been on FD before, but it’s worth another look. In 1900, they put together a series of charts for a Paris exhibition visualizing black America. You can access the collection via the Library of Congress. If you’re looking for more context for the charts and the times, Whitney Battle-Baptiste and Britt Rusert wrote about the history and motivations in...

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Historical data visualization panel

Manuel Lima hosted a free online panel with Michale Friendly and Sandra Rendgen historical data visualization. It already happened, but you can listen to the archived version: Human beings have been involved in the visual representation of information for thousands of years. While some books on Data Visualization go as far back as the 18th century, to what’s considered to be the golden age of information graphics, the history of...

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Data shelf life

Stephen M. Stigler argues that data have a limited shelf life. The abstract: Data, unlike some wines, do not improve with age. The contrary view, that data are immortal, a view that may underlie the often-observed tendency to recycle old examples in texts and presentations, is illustrated with three classical examples and rebutted by further examination. Some general lessons for data science are noted, as well as some history of...

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The early beginnings of visual thinking

Visualization is a relatively new field. Sort of. The increased availability of data has pushed visualization forward in more recent years, but its roots go back centuries. Michael Friendly and Howard Wainer rewind back to the second half of the 1800s, looking at the rise of visual thinking. On the first construction of the periodic table of elements: On February 17, 1869, right after breakfast, and with a train to...

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