This essay argues that the explosion of visual graphics in nineteenth-century population statistics was closely linked to a shift in statistical epistemologies and practices of data collection. Taking German census statistics as a case in point, I illuminate concepts and practices that referred to data as a category of the here and now, enabling spatial representations of current phenomena. I argue that seeing and abstracting the world as data opened new avenues not only for producing tables with multiple variables, but also for forging such refined results into graphical visualizations of data. These in turn made empirical relationships in the social order evident and thus modifiable through intervention and reform. This essay is part of a special issue entitled Histories of Data and the Database edited by Soraya de Chadarevian and Theodore M. Porter.

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