Dorothy Vaughan

Dorothy Jean Johnson Vaughan (September 20, 1910 – November 10, 2008) was an American mathematician and human computer who worked for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), and NASA, at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

In 1949, she became acting supervisor of the West Area Computers, the first African-American woman to receive a promotion and supervise a group of staff at the center.

She later was promoted officially to the position of supervisor. During her 28-year career, Vaughan prepared for the introduction of computers in the early 1960s by teaching herself and her staff the programming language of Fortran. She later headed the programming section of the Analysis and Computation Division (ACD) at Langley.

IBM System 360/195 computer

Vaughan is one of the women featured in Margot Lee Shetterly‘s history Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race (2016). It was adapted as a biographical film of the same name, also released in 2016.



“Dorothy Vaughan.” Wikipedia, Accessed 21 Aug. 2022.


Hidden Stories: Dorothy Vaughan


Excerpt from Hidden Figures book:

The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race

The following is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Hidden Figures, a movie version of which will be released in January 2017 starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, and Kirsten Dunst. It was on a trip to the post office during the spring of 1943 that Dorothy Vaughan spied the notice for the laundry job at Camp Pickett.

Dorothy Vaughan contributed to the Scout Launch project.

Scout Launch Vehicle – NASA


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