This book provides a selection of pioneering papers or extracts ranging from Pascal (1654) to R.A. Fisher (1930). The authors' annotations put the articles in perspective for the modern reader. A special feature of the book is the large number of translations, nearly all made by the authors. The selected articles vary considerably in difficulty, some requiring only a basic understanding of statistical concepts, whereas others surprise by their early sophistication in "classical" statistics.
There are several reasons for studying the history of statistics: intrinsic interest in how the field of statistics developed, learning from often brilliant ideas and not reinventing the wheel, and livening up general courses in statistics by reference to important contributors.