The work of Michael Friendly on early statistical mapping

Michael Friendly is a professor at York University in Toronto and has done some absolutely amazing archival work on early examples of thematic mapping. You may recognize some of the names:

André Michel Guerry, illustrated above with a map of illegitimate births (STP, p. 24n7)
Adriano Balbi
William Playfair
Adolphe Quetelet and the normal curve
Charles Minard
Charles Dupin

All these men were important players in the emergence of statistics as a technology of government and you can find them discussed in various works by Foucault.

Dupin is especially interesting to me because he is credited with the world’s first ever “choropleth” map or area-shaded map, which today is the most popular form of statistical mapping. As I wrote in our book:

In ‘Questions on Geography’ (chapter 19 of this book) there is a brief reference to maps as instruments of power. In his interview ‘Space, Knowledge, and power’ he pointed to the important work of the engineers and cartographers at the École des ponts et chausées who ‘thought out space’ (Foucault 1984, 244) such as Charles Minard (Friendly 2002; Robinson 1967) (p. 224).

Friendly’s work provides insight into these men who, as Foucault put it, thought out space.

Selected M. Friendly References

Friendly, M. 2002. A Brief History of the Mosaic Display. Journal of Computational and Graphical Statistics 11 (1):89-107.

———. 2002. Visions and Re-Visions of Charles Joseph Minard. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics 27 (1):31-51.

———. 2007. A.-M. Guerry’s Moral Statistics of France: Challenges for Multivariable Spatial Analysis. Statistical Science 22.

Friendly, M., and D. Denis. 2005. The Early Origins and Development of the Scatterplot. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 41 (2):103-130.


One Response

  1. I wish to get in touch with Michael Friendly in connection with a book i am working on.
    Is it possible to have his e-mail address?

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