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21 May, 23:00

Emma Willard's Infographics: Visualizing Knowledge in the 19th Century

Emma Willard's Infographics: Visualizing Knowledge in the 19th Century
The ability to structure information is extremely important today. Infographics, thanks to their visual form of presentation, simplify the understanding of complex data and facilitate its memorization. Emma Willard, an activist of the American movement for women's education, actively used this tool back in the 19th century.

Emma Willard was born in 1787 in the family of a farmer. From an early age, she showed interest in learning. She started teaching at the age of 17. In 1807-1809, she headed a female academy, after which she opened a boarding school for women, Middlebury Female Seminary.
Emma Willard
Emma Willard
Willard constantly worked to improve the curriculum, giving her students the opportunity to study subjects that were usually only available to men. She wrote a number of textbooks on history and geography, enriching them with illustrative material.

In the first half of the 19th century, there was a significant number of textbooks in the USA, the authors of which often accused each other of plagiarism. Willard, seeking to avoid these accusations and find original ways of presenting educational material, turned to the methodology of Jacques Barbet-Dubourg, who developed a way of describing history using timelines. This method made it possible to visually demonstrate the development of civilizations to students.
In 1840, Emma Willard introduced an innovative method that combined chronology and geography to create a three-dimensional perspective that helped students visually "immerse" themselves in the past. Her approach made it possible to see history as a whole, to feel its depth and scale.

Another significant development of Willard was an infographic illustrating American history. This image was included in one of her US history textbooks, helping students better understand and remember historical events.
Willard co-wrote Woodbridge and Willard's Geography and Atlases and A System of Universal Geography on the Principles of Comparison and Classification with the American geographer William Channing Woodbridge.

Emma Willard's infographics were an important step in the development of teaching methods. They not only contributed to better assimilation of the material, but also gave women access to knowledge that was previously unattainable.
Source: themarginalian.org

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