There’s no question infographics are experiencing something of a renaissance right now: graphic design programs have made their creation easier than ever, while the Internet makes them accessible to all. But as it turns out, infographics have been popular for a long time.
In fact, WIRED recently discovered an entire book of infographics published in 1939. Written by data expert Willard Cope Brinton and titled Graphic Presentation, the book—available to read at Archive.org—instructs aspiring chart makers and data artists on the fine points of visually representing information. The book compiles hundreds of infographics from the 1930s, and explains how to create them.
In the preface to his book, Brinton claims that the increased popularity of infographics has its roots in 20th century warfare: “Probably the feverish demand for prompt and reliable data during war times did more to stimulate the use of graphic chart technique than anything that has happened since 1920,” he explains.
But though they were popular, the process of creating infographics was incredibly laborious: artists had to cut paper into thousands of strips, and draw all of their complex graphs by hand. Check out some of our favorites below: