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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 218

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race is a 2016 nonfiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly. It profiles the mathematicians, called "human computers," of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the agency that preceded NASA). Specifically, it highlights three African American women named Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan, mathematicians and engineers whose contributions to the American space program of the 1950s and 1960s went unrecognized and unheralded for decades.

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Mary Winston Jackson (1921-2005) studied air flow and drag patterns over US aircraft, authoring or co-authoring a dozen technical papers on the subject. She was the first woman of color to serve as a NASA engineer.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, who recently observed her hundredth birthday, was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her mathematical efforts on behalf of Project Mercury and the space shuttle program. It was she who plotted the trajectory for Alan Shepard's space flight, the first by any American.

Dorothy Johnson Vaughan (1910-2008) was a computer programmer who served as the first African American supervisor at NACA.

The book also introduces readers to Dr. Christine Darden, born 1942, an expert in supersonic flight physics and the first African American woman promoted to the US civil service's Senior Executive Services classification.

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 192

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race is a 2016 book writen by Margot Lee Shetterly. This is a nonfiction story about three women mathematicians who...

(The entire section contains 410 words.)

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