Florence Nightingale and Statistics:  From Then to Now (In-person)

Florence Nightingale and Statistics: From Then to Now (In-person)

Date: Wednesday 06 March 2024, 5.00PM - 6.00PM
Location: London
Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol Street, London EC1Y 8LX
Section Group Meeting
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Nightingale’s mission, from her “call to service,” was to save lives, which she initially understood as being through nursing the sick.  From the Crimean War on, statistics were a means to that end of saving lives. Her 853-page, anonymous, analysis  of 1858  shows this. She and Dr William Farr—it was always joint work-- developed a fine way to portray the data and make their points persuasively, with polar area charts.

Nightingale was also an astute user of simple bar charts. See her tribute to Sidney Herbert on his death, depicting how death rates declined under his leadership. My own bar chart comparing  British and French death rates will show how much better the British did in learning the lessons of high death rates.

Nightingale’s  two most famous books, Notes on Nursing, 1860, and Notes on Hospitals, 1863, set out the knowledge she gained from the statistical analysis, the positive application of the negatives learned from the war.
Lynn McDonald (University of Guelph)
Contact Chaitra Nagaraja for RSS History of Statistics Section
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