Florence Nightingale was born May 12, 1820, and died August 13, 1910. While she wasn’t the first proponent of improved hygiene and sterilization in hospitals (Ignaz Semmelweis, working in obstetrics in Germany), it was Nightingale’s work in the Crimean war that showed how drastically important hygiene is at saving lives.
Her life’s work was groundbreaking three times over. She professionalized nursing, invented methods for epidemiology and containing disease, and almost singlehandedly invented statistical analysis. Her 200th birthday is timely, considering the world today. Here are a few links about her:
Science Museum UK: Florence Nightingale: The pioneer statistician
This Is Statistics: Florence Nightingale: The Lady with the Data
Normally I prefer to write up biographies myself, but the biography on Treehugger is long and comprehensive. There’s no point reinventing the data wheel, or Coxcomb Graph as it’s known. Nightingale’s charts were among (if not) the first data visualization charts.