Charts and Data Visualization: Another Great Way to Learn Something New

Asha Bajaj
4 min readNov 24, 2020

#Charts; #Data Visualization; #Library of Congress; #US Free Charts; #Innovative Learning

This post was written by Business Reference Librarian Nanette Gibbs.

McGuffey, W. Holmes. (1881). Photographic reduction of McGuffey’s reading charts. Rev. ed. Cincinnati: Van Antwerp, Bragg & co. Back Cover: Images from HathiTrust scan.

The use of charts to clarify ideas goes back many years. In a contemporaneous review of McGuffey’s Reading Charts revised edition, dating from the 1880s, the Superintendent of the Columbus, Ohio Public Schools, R.W. Stevenson, wrote:

Gentlemen: McGuffey’s Revised Reading Charts are beautiful, and will be of inexpressible value in the lower grades of our schools. They cannot only be used as an aid in learning to read and write, but their value for teaching elementary language-lessons will be worth ten-fold their cost. I have had no faith in charts, but those are so beautiful, so well graded, so full of information in the most artistic form, they cannot fail to be valuable. Very truly, R.W. STEVENSON, Superintendent.

McGuffey, W. Holmes. (1881). Photographic reduction of McGuffey’s reading charts. Rev. ed. Cincinnati: Van Antwerp, Bragg & co. (p8, 33) Images from HathiTrust scan.

For someone who expresses he had ‘no faith’ in charts, it is apparent that he took a serious and critical look at this edition. In fact, the publication is a work well done with examples of good penmanship, and even a color wheel!

In another work, A companion to the New American reading charts, Philadelphia, J. H. Butler & co., c1879, teachers are given specific directions in their use and even how to hang them on metal rods.

Below is a 1943 chart from the collections of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division explaining how ration coupons worked. These coupons were issued to the U.S. population during World War II and allowed one to purchase a specific amount of a product during a month’s time.

In a similar fashion, a chart can convey real-time data today. We regularly receive reports showing our cell phone use every week. Putting the weeks together, we can easily see how our use of this service changes over time and why our rates increase as our usage increases, helping us understand a higher bill at the end of the month.

Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women