What a real flu pandemic looks like

May 7, 2009
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Junk Charts has a neat example of what we would today call a Trellis or Lattice chart. Found in an archive of photographs from the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington DC, the chart depicts deaths from influenza in New York City from 1889-1919 (click to enlarge).

 Flu deaths
Deaths from Influenza, lobar, and bronchopneumonia and acute bronchitis, New York City, 1889 – 1919. (c) Otis Historical Archives. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

I’m astounded by this chart for two reasons. Firstly, it’s not clear when this chart was created, but it’s certainly the first example of a small-multiples time series that I’m aware of. Secondly, check out the panels for 1918 and 1919 where the scale of the pandemic was such that the chart literally breaks through the axis and leaps into the upper panels. It’s not a technique that would work in general, but here it really makes those pandemic years stand out in context.

There are a few other interesting charts in the archive, too.

Junk Charts: Sore-thumb graphics 


Junk Charts has a neat example of what we would today call a Trellis or Lattice chart. Found in an archive of photographs from the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington DC, the chart depicts deaths from influenza in New York City from 1889-1919 (click to enlarge).

 Flu deaths
Deaths from Influenza, lobar, and bronchopneumonia and acute bronchitis, New York City, 1889 – 1919. (c) Otis Historical Archives. Reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

I’m astounded by this chart for two reasons. Firstly, it’s not clear when this chart was created, but it’s certainly the first example of a small-multiples time series that I’m aware of. Secondly, check out the panels for 1918 and 1919 where the scale of the pandemic was such that the chart literally breaks through the axis and leaps into the upper panels. It’s not a technique that would work in general, but here it really makes those pandemic years stand out in context.

There are a few other interesting charts in the archive, too.

Junk Charts: Sore-thumb graphics