Graphing Literacy in the Psychology Major: Florence Nightingale and the Creation of a Beautiful Display of Data
Association for Psychological Science Observer, September 2009
Susan A. Nolan, Ph.D.
Department of Psychology
The most enthusiastic statistician of all" (Porter, 1986 p. 67) among her energetic 19th century peers was Florence Nightingale, the first woman admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in England. Her popular legacy, of course, is the nursing legend. When the Crimean War broke out, Nightingale directed the entire nursing operation at the war front for the British Army. Her legend began to grow as she instituted practices of basic hygiene, such as changing the bed sheets when new patients entered the hospital. She documented every change that she made so that she could identify what worked and succeeded at dramatically reducing the mortality rate (Goldie, 1997).