Katherine Johnson is known for being a human "computer" at NASA during the race to space. As an African American during the time of Jim Crow laws, she worked in the West Area Computer Unit at the Langley Research Center. The unit was a segregated work area with its own bathrooms and cafeterias. Johnson was eventually transferred to the flight research division at Langley, where she worked on the math behind how to get humans to space and back at what became NASA in 1958. Johnson was the subject of the 2016 book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly. A movie based on the book was released the same year. In 2017, a new research facility was named for her: the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.
Born - August 26, 1918
Died - February 24, 2020
Activities, Lesson Plans, and More
- Y—Young (PreK-3rd)
- M—Middle (4th-6th)
- O—Older (7th-12th)
- T—Teacher Resources
On Being a Black Female Math Whiz During the Space Race
A New York Times article by Cara Buckley dated Sept. 5, 2016
Katherine Johnson: The Girl Who Loved to Count
A feature article from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
From Hidden to Modern Figures
Video featuring Katherine Johnson from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Katherine Johnson Biography
Biography by Margot Lee Shetterly
She Was a Computer When Computers Wore Skirts
A NASA History article from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM
From the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Katherine Johnson Biography
The Woman the Mercury Astronauts Couldn't Do Without
From Nautilus science magazine.
West Virginian of the Year: Katherine G. Johnson
From the Charleston Gazette newspaper article dated Dec 26, 2015
Katherine Johnson Interview: NASA's Human Computer
NASA Langley pioneer Katherine Johnson talks about her life and her work at NASA, where she was known as the "human computer." She discusses the highlights of her career, including calculating John Glenn's flight trajectory.
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson
Article from the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland
'Hidden Figures': How Black Women Did The Math That Put Men On The Moon
An author interview heard on All Things Considered September 25, 2016 on NPR
Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician And An Inspiration For 'Hidden Figures,' Dies
Obituary heard on the Morning Edition of NPR February 24, 2020
Notable Calculations, Technical Reports, Videos, and Photos for Katherine Johnson from the NASA Langley Research Center
The Black Female Mathematicians Who Sent Astronauts to Space
Article from Mental Floss, an online encyclopedia.
Katherine Johnson, 'hidden figure' at NASA during 1960s space race, dies at 101
A Washington Post obituary article dated Feb 24, 2020