Open Access
Translator Disclaimer
November 2008 The Golden Age of Statistical Graphics
Michael Friendly
Statist. Sci. 23(4): 502-535 (November 2008). DOI: 10.1214/08-STS268


Statistical graphics and data visualization have long histories, but their modern forms began only in the early 1800s. Between roughly 1850 and 1900 (±10), an explosive growth occurred in both the general use of graphic methods and the range of topics to which they were applied. Innovations were prodigious and some of the most exquisite graphics ever produced appeared, resulting in what may be called the “Golden Age of Statistical Graphics.”

In this article I trace the origins of this period in terms of the infrastructure required to produce this explosive growth: recognition of the importance of systematic data collection by the state; the rise of statistical theory and statistical thinking; enabling developments of technology; and inventions of novel methods to portray statistical data. To illustrate, I describe some specific contributions that give rise to the appellation “Golden Age.”


Download Citation

Michael Friendly. "The Golden Age of Statistical Graphics." Statist. Sci. 23 (4) 502 - 535, November 2008.


Published: November 2008
First available in Project Euclid: 11 May 2009

zbMATH: 1329.62018
MathSciNet: MR2530548
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/08-STS268

Keywords: Charles Joseph Minard , data visualization , Florence Nightingale , Francis Galton , Francis Walker , History of statistics , smoothing , thematic cartography

Rights: Copyright © 2008 Institute of Mathematical Statistics


Vol.23 • No. 4 • November 2008
Back to Top