Dorothy Vaughan helmed West Computing for nearly a decade. In 1958, when the NACA made the transition to NASA, segregated facilities, including the West Computing office, were abolished. Dorothy Vaughan and many of the former West Computers joined the new Analysis and Computation Division (ACD), a racially and gender-integrated group on the ...
Nov 30, 1990 · Dorothy Rabin Ross, American history educator. United States Public Health Service grantee, 1965-1968, National Science Foundation grantee, 1980-1981. Fellow Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences, Society of America Historians; member American Studies Association, History of Science Society, American History Association, Organization American Historians (executive board 1987-1989).
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Jan 13, 2017 · Dorothy Vaughan: Meet the G.I.R.L.s Behind ‘Hidden Figures’. Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson are the real-life go-getters, innovators, risk-takers, and leaders of Hidden Figures, story of the African American women mathematicians behind some of NASA’s greatest victories. Follow along as we honor each of these ...
Dorothea Ross1. F, #506297 Last Edited=14 Oct 2012. Dorothea Ross is the daughter of William de Ross, 3rd Earl of Ross and Euphemia de Berkeley.2 She married Torquil MacLeod, 2nd of the Lewes, son of Leod (?) and unknown daughter MacRailt.1 Her married name became MacLeod.1. Child of Dorothea Ross and Torquil MacLeod, 2nd of the Lewes.
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(Dorothy Vaughn in her twenties (left), Octavia Spencer (right); Photo credit: NASA archives) Dorothy Vaughan, one of the hidden figures in American space history that has long been swept under the rug is now out in the open and being told in the blockbuster movie, Hidden Figures, starring Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monae as the unsung Black women who were instrumental in getting the first ...
- Who Was Dorothy Johnson Vaughan?
- Early Life
- Career in Mathematics
- Working Under Segregated Conditions
- Work with NASA and The Space Program
- Later Life
Dorothy Johnson Vaughan was an African American mathematics teacher who became one of the leading mathematical engineers in early days of the aerospace industry. After the U.S. defense industry desegregated, Vaughan worked with leading computer operators and engineers, becoming an expert in the FORTRAN programming coding language at NASA. She worked on the SCOUT Launch Vehicle Program that shot satellites into space. Vaughan and other female African American mathematicians are the subject of a 2016 film Hidden Figures.
Dorothy Johnson was born in Kansas City, Missouri on September 20, 1910. At age seven, her parents, Leonard and Anne Johnson, moved the family to Morgantown, West Virginia. She graduated from Beechurst High School in 1925, and four years later, received a Bachelor of Science degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio. In 1932, she married Howard Vaughan.
For the next eleven years, Vaughan divided her time between being a homemaker and a mathematics teacher at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia. In 1943, the family moved to Newport News, Virginia, and Vaughan was employed as a mathematician at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (the predecessor agency to NASA) in what she thought would be a temporary job. A beneficiary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802, Vaughan was among the first group of African Americans to be hired as mathematicians and scientists. The executive order prohibited discrimination based on race, religion and ethnicity in the defense industry.
However, even with the executive order, state and local laws required "colored" mathematicians to work separately from their white female counterparts. Vaughan was assigned to the segregated “West Area Computing” unit, where she was required to use separate dining and restroom facilities. At NACA, she was responsible for calculating mathematical computations for engineers conducting aeronautical experiments in wind tunnels on the variables affecting drag and lift of aircraft. In 1949, Vaughan became the first Black supervisor at NACA when she was promoted to manager of the West Area Computers. This workgroup was composed entirely of African American female mathematicians. The title gave her rare visibility and she collaborated with other well-known computer operators on various projects. She also became a dedicated advocate for female employees who deserved promotions or raises, often supporting white women as well.
Vaughan led the West Area Computing program for a decade. Then in 1958, as NACA was transitioning into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the agency abolished the segregated working environment. Vaughan joined the new Analysis and Computation Division, becoming an expert FORTRAN programmer, and worked on the SCOUT (Solid Controlled Orbital Utility Test) Launch Vehicle Program, one of the nation's most successful and reliable launch vehicles, used for launching a 385-pound satellite into a 500-mile orbit.
Vaughan sought but never received another management position at NASA. She retired in 1971. During the final decade of her career, Vaughan worked closely with fellow NASA mathematicians Katherine G. Johnson and Mary Jackson on the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, which brought confidence back to America’s space program. Vaughan died on November 10, 2008. Her legacy and the story of the other women of West Computing lives on in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.