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Mary Eleanor Spear, practical charting techniques

Credit Where Credit is Due: Mary Eleanor Spear

Rediscovering the life and work of a data visualization pioneer

Mary Eleanor Spearr books
LEFT: Both of Spear’s books, collection of the author
A screenshot from a draft family tree of Mary Eleanor Spear on Ancestry.com, included by permission
A screenshot from a draft family tree of Mary Eleanor Spear on Ancestry.com, included by permission

A Career in the U.S. Federal Government

Fig 4. U.S., Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service, 1952 for Mary E. Spear
Fig 4. U.S., Register of Civil, Military, and Naval Service, 1952 for Mary E. Spear
Compiled career titles and salary for Mary Eleanor Spear
Compiled career titles and salary for Mary Eleanor Spear
The distinctive endpapers from “Practical Charting Techniques”
The distinctive endpapers from “Practical Charting Techniques”

A Proud Author

Fig 2–20 from ‘Practical Charting Techniques’
Fig 2–20 from ‘Practical Charting Techniques’

“Graphic presentation is a functional form of art as much as modern painting or architectural design. The painter studies his subject to determine what colors and style and design will best express his ideas. The same kind of imagination is exercised by the graphic artist and analyst.”

Mary E. Spear’s suspension pantograph
Mary E. Spear’s suspension pantograph
Drafting pantograph in use, by Inigolv, CC 4.0Drafting pantograph in use, by Inigolv, CC 4.0
Drafting pantograph in use, by Inigolv, CC 4.0

An Overlooked Contribution

Fig. 6–24 of Charting Statistics (1952) showing a range bar featuring an interquartile range box

“The basic graphic form of the boxplot, the range-bar, was established in the early 1950’s (by) Spear (1952, pg. 164)”

Screenshot of Google Search Trends results comparing searches for four dataviz pioneers
Screenshot of Google Search Trends results comparing searches for four dataviz pioneers

Credit Where Credit is Due

Mary Eleanor Spear dust jacket
Biography from the dust jacket of “Practical Charting Techniques”

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