A Quick History Lesson

Although now seemingly ubiquitous, the visualization of data is not a new practice. The below resources can offer a good place to start for those interested in the history of visualization.

“A Brief History of Data Visualization” by Michael Friendly. This article by Michael Friendly, an expert in the history of visualization, spans a long time period of data visualization and is both short and comprehensive.

Data by Design: An Interactive History of Data Visualization by Lauren F. Klein. This will be a new online project documenting the history of data visualization to be released in the Fall of 2021.

“A Timeline of Timelines” by Sasha Archibald and Daniel Rosenberg. A graphic showing the history of timelines. A short write-up on timelines entitled “The Trouble with Timelines: the Measure of it All” by Rosenberg is also available.

Read Further

  • The Library of Congress has digitized copies of many of W.E.B. Du Bois’ data visualizations. While there is no written article by the library alongside the collection, the historical visualizations themselves are fascinating and powerful.