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Hidden Figures

by Margot Lee Shetterly

Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASAs African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program and whose contributions have been unheralded, until now.

Before John Glenn orbited the Earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of professionals worked as Human Computers, calculating the flight paths that would enable these historic achievements. Among these were a coterie of bright, talented African-American women. Segregated from their white counterparts by Jim Crow laws, these colored computers, as they were known, used slide rules, adding machines, and pencil and paper to support Americas fledgling aeronautics industry, and helped write the equations that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Drawing on the oral histories of scores of these computers, personal recollections, interviews with NASA executives and engineers, archival documents, correspondence, and reporting from the era,Hidden Figures recalls Americas greatest adventure and NASAs groundbreaking successes through the experiences of five spunky, courageous, intelligent, determined, and patriotic women: Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Christine Darden, and Gloria Champine.

Moving from World War II through NASAs golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the womens rights movement,Hidden Figures interweaves a rich history of scientific achievement and technological innovation with the intimate stories of five women whose work forever changed the worldand whose lives show how out of one of Americas most painful histories came one of its proudest moments.



About Margot Lee Shetterly

Margot Lee Shetterly is an independent scholar and an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award recipient, currently at work on The Human Computer Project, a digital archive of the stories of NASA’s female Human Computers. She is one of the founders of Inside Mexico Magazine, an English-language magazine for Mexico’s expat population, and in her former lives worked as an Internet executive and an investment banker. She splits her time between Hampton, Virginia and Valle de Bravo, Mexico.



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