The origins of the International Statistical Institute (ISI) can be traced back to a series of International Statistical Congresses, the first of which was convened by Adolphe Quetelet in 1853 in Brussels. The ISI was formally founded in 1885, during a meeting held to celebrate the Jubilee of the London Statistical Society. The initial 81 members were the elite of that era’s statisticians in government and academia. They established our first statutes, and our first half-century was a period of general stability. Major changes, such as a proposed affiliation in 1920 with the League of Nations, were resisted. Rawson W. Rawson Rawson W. Rawson The first President of the ISI was Rawson W. Rawson who served from 1885 to 1899, the year he died. Other early Presidents also served long terms. Since 1975, however, the terms of Presidents have been limited to two years. Of the 32 ISI Presidents so far, 20 were from Europe, 6 from North America, 4 from Asia, 1 from South America, and 1 from Australia. Denise Lievesley (2007–2009) has been the only female President. F. Nightingale F. Nightingale There are several interesting examples of the early development and applications of statistics by ISI members. For example, Florence Nightingale was a pioneer in the development of statistical graphics to visually represent data. She developed diagrams called coxcombs and used them to illustrate the various causes of death during the Crimean War. Some of ISI Presidents (1947-2009) An ISI Meeting in the 1920's The first ISI Session (now called World Statistics Congress) was held in Rome in 1887. These conferences were regular biennial events until the 1938 meeting in Prague, which was cancelled in its second day because of the threat of war. The ISI essentially went into hibernation until 1947 when the next Session was held in New York. Stuart Rice (President, 1947–1953), who was the primary organizer, had an ambitious goal of adapting the ISI to a new era: “The ISI of the future must be regarded as more embracing than the single society of elected members that we have been in the past … On every hand there is a new dependence upon statistics and statisticians. … There is a crying need for world leadership in this field.” The last two statements are just as relevant today as they were in 1947, as we try to meet the challenges of our data-rich, information-oriented society.