January 2018


FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE (1820 – 1910) is considered the foundational philosopher of modern nursing. The British nurse, statistician, and social reformer is most remembered for her work in the Crimean War, where her round-the-clock attention to the wounded earned her the nickname “Lady with the Lamp.” But her impact goes far beyond that service. While making rounds, Nightingale carefully recorded details about the causes of soldiers’ diseases and fatalities, the productivity of medical staffs, the administration of a barrack hospital, and the delivery of medical supplies. As a result of her data and analysis, a royal commission was created, which dramatically transformed military medical and purveyance systems.

Nightingale recognized the importance of widespread communication in public health. She wrote more than 200 books, pamphlets, and articles, including the seminal Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not, which has been published worldwide continuously since 1859. A century before the dawn of
the digital age, she used the power of data visualization to share her individual insights with millions.

Florence Nightingale created the Rose Diagram – also known as the Coxcomb or the Wedges – as a data visualization tool to explain complex statistics simply and persuasively. Her “Diagram of the Causes of Mortality in the Army of the East” showed that epidemic disease, which was responsible for more British deaths during the Crimean War than battlefield wounds, could be controlled by a variety of factors including nutrition, ventilation, and shelter.

Rose Diagram
Florence Nightingale