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Hidden Figure: Dorothy Vaughan

November 2016

Full Name: Dorothy Johnson Vaughan
Birthdate: September 20, 1910
Birthplace: Kansas City, Missouri 
Education: B.A, Mathematics, Wilberforce University 1929
Work Dates: 1943 - 1971
Position(s): Computer; Section Head, West Area Computers; Mathematician, ACD
Group(s): West Computers; ACD
Specialties: Flight paths; Scout Project; FORTRAN programming

Excerpted from "Hidden Figures: The Untold Story That’s Long Overdue" on

Hidden Figures at SpelmanDorothy Vaughan’s career at Langley spanned twenty-eight years. Hired in 1943 and assigned to the West Area Computers, she moved into the area of electronic computing when the first (non-human) computers were introduced at NACA.

Vaughan did computer programming, becoming proficient in coding languages such as FORTRAN, and also contributed to the space program through her work on the Scout Project. In a 1994 interview, she recalled that working at Langley during the Space Age felt like being on “the cutting edge of something very exciting.”

Vaughan raised a family while working at Langley, and one of her children went on to also be employed at NASA.

Read more about Vaughn on the Human Computer Project website.

Information taken from NASA:
Sources: Beverly Golemba, Human Computers: The Women in Aeronautical Research, unpublished manuscript 1994, NASA Langley Archives.
“Computers Help Compile Handbook,” Langley Air Scoop newsletter, Aug. 17, 1951

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