In February, #IronQuest had the pleasure of collaborating with Eve Thomas and Vinodh Kumar, the leaders of the #Viz2Educate project, to visualise the topic, ‘History’.

The #Viz2Educate project is on a mission to create a bank of high-quality educational resources for teachers, worldwide. Visualisations published on the internet and made available for free are far more accessible than textbooks, which some schools or students may not be able to afford. Each month, they focus on a different subject area from the core curriculum. Participants can submit any visualisation which covers that topic in some way. For History, we were hoping for a range of visualisations covering everything from historic events to famous people from history. Given that February was also Black History Month in North America, we were expecting to see several entries on black history too.

We received a total of 42 submissions for this round and welcomed 17 new participants to the project this month! As always, it was fantastic to see the diverse range of topics covered and creativity shown through the entries. Participants covered everything from historical events and wars to black history and notable people from our past.

We were lucky enough to have two vizzes featured as ‘Viz of the Day’ this month too! Congratulations to the authors of our VOTD’s, Alice and Gary! You can view their vizzes below.

Click the images to view the interactive versions on Tableau Public.

In this viz, Alice illustrates Black American representation in Congress from 1870 to 2021:

In this viz, Gary explores the 1,121 World Heritage Sites across the globe that UNESCO aims to preserve:


Due to the high volume of entries this month, Eve, Vinodh and I were unable to cover all of the vizzes where feedback had been requested on our initial feedback call. However, I also had the pleasure of being joined by Tableau Ambassador Michelle Frayman who helped me review the remaining vizzes.

You may recall we made a slight change to our review process last month, based on feedback from project participants. We now offer two types of feedback; general and Iron Viz style. The Iron Viz style feedback takes into account the Iron Viz scoring criteria areas (Design, Storytelling and Analysis) and focuses on what you might need to adjust or improve to strengthen your viz in an Iron Viz feeder competition. For example, your viz might score better (in a theoretical Iron Viz setting) by adding more analytical elements. Since #IronQuest is modelled on the Iron Viz feeder competition, we thought that an Iron Viz feedback option would be good for anyone looking to prepare for the annual Iron Viz competition.

You can listen to our feedback here:

We reviewed the vizzes in alphabetical order (by authors first name) to make it easier to jump straight to the feedback for your viz.

In this video we cover vizzes by the following authors:

Alexis Bernard
Alice McKnight
Alisha Dhillon
Aman Gulati
Bechor Barouch
Christos Nikolis
Dan Chissick
Fred Najjar
Gauri Rajgopal
Jagruthi Mothukuri
Jessica Uwoghiren
Jon Cusack
Mahfooj Khan
Mateusz Karmalski
Michelle Frayman
Nicolas Mieszaly
Olushola Olojo
Ryan Hart
Sarah Moore
Sekou Tyler
Simon Rowe
soha elghany
Wendy Shijia
Zainab Ayodimeji

Viz Highlights

Here are a few of our favourite entries this month. These are grouped into themes or subject areas. We’ve intentionally picked some visualisations that you may have otherwise missed.

Click on the viz images to view the originals on Tableau Public.

Historical Events

Alisha Dhillon – The Black Death

In this viz, Alisha covers the story of the ‘The Black Death’ – an epidemic of bubonic plague which spread from China, across Europe and to the British Isles from 1346 to 1352. Alisha’s viz is well-balanced with a nice combination of data viz, imagery and supporting text to help describe the causes, the path and the consequences of the plague.

Alisha incorporates a simple colour palette of predominately black, white and grey, with subtle highlights shown in red or blue. She also uses annotation and shading to highlight key data points and imagery to support the overall story.

Fred Najjar – The History of The Nobel Prize (1901-2020)

In this long form viz, Fred explores the history behind The Nobel Prize; an annual award for outstanding intellectual achievements in Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, Peace, and Economics. Fred explores data from when the prize started in 1901, right through to the present day. He explores the data to analyse the gender and age mix of ‘The Laureates’ (recipients), determining that prize recipients are far more likely to be male and aged over 61 years of age. Fred also looks at the origin of laureates to determine their background in terms of both field of work/study and country of origin. His innovative application of a Sankey diagram with straight lines helps to show the relationship between both of these data points, whilst shading is applied to highlight the most common routes.

I like how Fred has incorporated an incredible variety of analysis into his viz using compact, yet concise charts that complement each other and surface interesting insights and help to tell a compelling story. For example, the combination of a heatmap and step line chart (see below) highlights both the upward trend in laureates from the U.S. (or of American nationality at the time of the award), whilst also showing the prize categories where U.S. laureates dominate and how the trends have changed over time.

If we look closely, we can see Fred has designed the viz using a 3-column grid. This approach helps to ensure consistency throughout the viz (something which can be quite tricky with long form vizzes), but also helps to hold the individual elements together and achieve effective hierarchy and alignment.

Simon Rowe – The Great Fire of London

(accompanying blog post here)

In this viz, Simon documents the spread of the ‘Great Fire of London’ of 1666 using a series of three maps and a timeline. In his blog post, Simon wrote that he wanted to achieve two things with the maps; (1) make them look like they were old and (2), allow him to draw the fire and points of interest. Simon utilised Mapbox Studio to create a custom old-looking map which he brought into Tableau. He then drew the location of the fire on top of the map using polygons, adding key landmarks for context. This approach really helped to bring the story to life, especially for those who are familiar with the area.

I love the overall old looking design which Simon created here. It can be quite difficult to incorporate maps and other modern elements into an old-style design but everything works seamlessly in this viz, right from the font choices to the ‘burnt’ border.

Zainab Ayodimeji – Beychella

In 2018, Beyonce became the first African-American woman to headline ‘Coachella’ (Valley Music and Arts Festival). Nicknamed ‘Beychella’ by her fans, her performance immediately received widespread critical acclaim. It paid tribute to the culture of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s) in the United States, featuring a full marching band and majorette dancers. Many of the performances were also influenced by black feminism, sampling black authors and featuring on-stage appearances by fellow Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, her husband Jay-Z, and her sister Solange Knowles. In this viz, Zainab uses Beyonce’s iconic performance as a conversation starter to explore both the history of headline acts at Coachella by gender (her analysis discovering that only four solo female artists have headlined the festival since it began in 1999), as well as other themes. Given the significance of HBCU’s in Beyonce’s performance, Zainab also explores the history of HBCU’s and their distribution by state across the United States.

I appreciate Zainab’s inclusion of a grid to share more details of the notable black people from history who Beyonce referenced during her performance, including activists, authors, musicians and more. Each tile of the grid includes a tooltip that links through to Wikipedia where the audience can learn more about the person in question. While each of the names mentioned are significant in their own right, some of their achievements, particularly in the sense of activism and the civil rights movement, may be lesser-known and the grid is a nice way of summarising this whilst encouraging the reader to learn more.

Beyonce’s performance at Coachella was recorded and released as a Netflix-original concert film, Homecoming, in 2019. Homecoming has since been awarded multiple accolades, which Zainab also explores in her viz. Overall, this viz brings together several different data sources to tell multiple stories from history and it’s a perfect primer and conversation starter for Black History Month!

All Submissions

THANK YOU to everyone who submitted entries for taking the time to create and share your work! Also, a big thank you to Eve and Vinodh for being fantastic co-hosts.

All of the entries are posted below in alphabetical order by first name (note: the placement of some vizzes have been adjusted slightly for ease of viewing).

If you tweeted your viz or thought you submitted one via the Google Form but don’t see it here, let me know and I’ll work to include any additional entries ASAP.

Adi – The Greatest Athlete of all Time

Aida Horaniet – Notable Black Achievements

Alexis Bernard – 3.11

Alice McKnight – Black Representation in Congress | 1870 -2021

Alisa Prem – History of Typography

Alisha Dhillon – The Black Death

Aman Gulati – The Great Depression

Bechor Barouch – Mary Jane Patterson

Christos Nikolis – A Galaxy of Notable Black Achievements

Dan Chissick – Jewish Population of the World

David Sanchez Crujeiras – Bloody Revolutions Revolutions and Civil-Wars in Modern & Contemporary History : 1816-2014

Dennis Kao – SPAM: A Brief History of an Asian Cultural Food Phenemenon

Eve Thomas – Madam CJ Walker – A tale of rags to riches

Eve Thomas – #BlackHistoryMonth – The Nobel Prize

Fred Najjar – The History of The Nobel Prize (1901-2020)

Frederic Fery – Lynchings the last Ten years 1909-1918

Frederic Fery – Australian South Sea Islanders – Blackbirding

Gary Collins – Protecting Our Global Heritage

Gauri Rajgopa – Indian Salt March – 1930

Jagruthi Mothukuri – Children and Women Protection Acts

Jessica Uwoghiren – What’s Trending, Twitter?

Jon Cusack – The United Kingdom’s 20th and 21st Century Wars

Judit Bekker – The History of Modern Photography

Kate Brown – The Remarkable Althea Gibson

Kavin Kumar G – Our Past is Not Peace

Kevin Flerlage – The United States of Google Trending 2020

Kimly Scott – Notable Black Achievements

Mahfooj Khan – Ethnic Diversity of MLB 1947-2016

Mark Corbridge – Anglo Saxons vs Vikings

Mateusz Karmalski – Roman Emperors

Michelle Frayman – Notable, Noticed and Attainable Achievements by Black Men and Women

Neil Richards – Kings and Queens of England 1066-2021

Nicolas Mieszaly – History of French Monarchs

Olushola Olojo – Presidents of Nigeria

Ryan Hart – The Apostle PAUL

Sarah Moore – History of Space Exploration

Sekou Tyler – African American Inventors – #BHM

Simon Rowe – The Great Fire of London

Soha Elghany – US Gun Epidemic: A Look at Police Brutality and Racial Injustice

Wendy Shijia – A Timeline of the UN Observances

Yeo Jun Yan – Cold War and Nuclear Bombs

Zainab Ayodimeji – BEYCHELLA

The #Viz2Educate also published a recap post for our collaboration. You can find it here.

To stay up to date with all things #IronQuest, follow the hashtag #IronQuest on Twitter and LinkedIn, and check out the Iron Quest section on my blog for details of the latest projects.

Thanks for reading.