Florence Nightingale is a hero. In the nineteenth century, she revolutionised healthcare by developing the role and training of nurses as primary caregivers and highlighting the importance of cleanliness.
Many people are familiar with the picture above of her as “the lady with the lamp” as she did her nightly rounds of the wards of a field hospital during the Crimean War.
But not many people are familiar with Florence Nightingale’s infographics – images she created to clearly present the statistics she had collected during her time working in the hospital.
This type of pie chart graph, known as a the coxcomb or a polar region diagram, is thought to have been invented by Florence Nightingale. It clearly shows that many more soldiers in the army hospital were dying from “preventable diseases” (in blue) than injuries sustained on the battlefield (red).
Her simple visualisation of these numbers helped consolidate her conclusions and force those in charge to improve sanitary conditions of the hospitals.
In 1859, in recognition of her work in mathematics, Florence Nightingale was elected the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society.