Soon to be a major motion picture starring Golden Globewinner Taraji P. Henson and Academy Awardwinners Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner
Set against the backdrop of the Jim Crow South and the civil rights movement, the never-before-told true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space programand 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 America’s 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 America’s greatest adventure and NASA’s 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 NASA’s golden age, touching on the civil rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the women’s 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 America’s most painful histories came one of its proudest moments.
About the Author
Margot Lee Shetterly grew up in Hampton, Virginia, where she knew many of the women in her book Hidden Figures. She is an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and the recipient of a Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grant for her research on women in computing. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Table of Contents
Author's Note ix
1 A Door Opens 1
2 Mobilization 14
3 Past Is Prologue 29
4 The Double V 41
5 Manifest Destiny 57
6 War Birds 79
7 The Duration 95
8 Those Who Move Forward 108
9 Breaking Barriers 122
10 Home by the Sea 149
11 The Area Rule 171
12 Serendipity 186
13 Turbulence 199
14 Angle of Attack 219
15 Young, Gifted, and Black 237
16 What a Difference a Day Makes 255
17 Outer Space 277
18 With All Deliberate Speed 290
19 Model Behavior 307
20 Degrees of Freedom 321
21 Out of the Past, the Future 339
22 America Is for Everybody 362
23 To Boldly Go 376