The Human Computers at NASA project is a student/faculty collaborative project at the Macalester College's American Studies Department that seeks to shed light on the buried stories of African American women with math and science degrees who began working at NACA (now NASA) in 1943 in secret, segregated facilities. Dozens of African American women worked for NASA as expert mathematicians from the 1940's to the 1960's and no one knows about it. These well-educated African American women performed calculations and data analysis that was crucial to flight test and space exploration.

The African American women are often referred to as the hidden human computers. With their contributions at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, the hidden human computers paved a path for black women in the fields of STEM. This website is for the general public to learn about the untold story of when African American women were computers. In digging for their stories, The Human Computers at NASA project serves to educate the public about a part of the national history that is absent in our memory of NASA.

The Human Computers at NASA project is a collaboration between Professor Duchess Harris, Margot Lee Shetterly, and their research assistants Lucy Short and Ayaan Natala ‘18. The digital archive was created with the assistance of the Macalester College Library staff, Johan Oberg, Terri Fishel, and Lizzie Hutchins. Additional assistance was provided by Rebecca Wingo, Macalester's 2015-2016 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Liberal Arts.

Learn more about the Human Computers at NASA project.

Additional Resources

Duchess Harris shares grandmother's story in upcoming 'Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA'

Jim Walsh, MinnPost, September 13, 2016.