Data Visualisation in the Popular Victorian Press

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History of Statistics Section

Wednesday 17 April 2019, 06:00pm - 07:15pm

Location Location: Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol St, London EC1Y 8LX


Dr Alison Hedley -  SSHRC Post-doctoral Research Fellow, McGill University

About the Event:

Dr Hedley writes “Most forms of data visualisation were encountered mainly by non-specialized readers for the first time in the nineteenth century. The primary medium through which these graphics circulated among mass audiences was the periodical. My postdoctoral research project, “Graphical Thinking: Data Visualisation in Popular British Periodicals, 1830-1910,” is a cultural and material history of the data graphics published in popular journalism. “Graphical Thinking” combines socio-historical analysis and close reading—the micro-analysis of specific print artifacts and genres—with a machine learning process known as image analytics—the macro-analysis of a digitized corpus of journalism. Investigating the publication history of data visualisations in general-audience newspapers and magazines such as the Times, the Illustrated London News, and the Strand, the project recovers an important but largely overlooked chapter in the history of mass visualisation literacy”.

“In my presentation, I will discuss my project’s framework and methodology in relation to the nebulous field of data visualisation criticism. I will summarize ongoing case studies to illustrate the thrust of the project and its significance. Data graphics in mass digital journalism deploy many of the same visual practices as those established in the Victorian press. Given that the nineteenth-century history of popular data visualisation continues to shape how we communicate data for mass audiences, studying that history is essential to understanding the cultural functions of digital data graphics”.


6.00 to 6:45pm: Author’s presentation 

6:45 to 7.15pm: Q & A.


Refreshments alongside registration available from 5.30 pm

Attendance is free and open to all, whether fellows of the RSS or not, but pre-registration is required.


Organiser Name Peter Smith

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Organising Group(s) RSS History of Statistics Section





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