Shetterly, Margot Lee

Hidden Figures

  • First edition, first printing. Signed and dated “3.25.18” by the author on the title.

    Beginning during the Second World War, around four dozen African American women worked as computers, mathematicians, and engineers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the organisation that became NASA in 1958. Their work, carried out largely at the Langely Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia, made enormous contributions to aeronautics research and development, first in wind tunnel research and supersonic flight, and then in the Space Race.

    Among the women profiled in this volume are Katherine Johnson, a mathematician so skilled that John Glenn personally requested she calculate the Apollo 11 trajectories, and who refused to use Langley’s segregated bathroom; Dorothy Vaughan, one of the first Black “computers” at Langley, who anticipated the rise of machine computation and taught herself and her staff FORTRAN, then headed Langley’s Analysis and Computation Division; and Mary Jackson, who began her career as a computer and, after successfully petitioning to be allowed to take white-only night classes in engineering, became NASA’s first Black female engineer.

    Hidden Figures, based on interviews and archival research, reached number one on the New York Times non-fiction list, and was described by the LA Review of Books as “a historical homage to the fearlessness of mathematical minds too brilliant to be hindered by racism and sexism—to women who walked away from traditional, low-paying teaching jobs and marched into a predominantly white, segregated work force that considered them, in Shetterly’s words, ‘invisible and invaluable at the same time’” (Toby, Los Angeles Review of Books interview with the author, January 19th, 2017).

  • ...The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.

    New York: William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins, 2016.

    Octavo. Original brick red and buff boards, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. Finger soiling and some tiny spots to the boards, ends of spine bumped, text clean and fresh. Slight crease affecting the edge of the lower jacket panel. A very good copy.

Related Items