Researcher ORCID Identifier


Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jemma Lorenat

Reader 2

Sarah Cannon

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Rights Information

2022 Melanie N Williams


This paper will demonstrate why Mary Eleanor Spear (1897-1986) is an important figure in the history of statistical visualization. She lead an impressive career working in the federal government as a data analyst before "data analyst" became a thing. She wrote and illustrated two comprehensive textbooks which furthered the art of statistical visualization. Her textbooks cover extensive graphing knowledge still valuable to statisticians and viewers today. Most notable of her works is her development of the box plot. In addition to Spear's career and contributions, this paper will also address the lack of female representation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields then and now. There are only very limited sources on Spear's life. Thus, the greater purpose of this paper is to uplift a woman in STEM and to share her story.