sign up
log in

Legislation from United States of America House of Representatives

Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act


Give Feedback:




Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act
Date: February 27, 2019Official Title: To award Congressional Gold Medals to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden, to posthumously award Congressional Gold Medals to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, and to award a Congressional Gold Medal to honor all of the women who contributed to the success of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during the Space Race.Short titleThis Act may be cited as the "Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act".FindingsCongress finds the following:
  • (1) In 1935, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (referred to in this section as "NACA") hired 5 women to serve as the first "computer pool" at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory where those women took on work making calculations that male engineers had made previously.
  • (2) During the 1940s, NACA began recruiting African-American women to work as computers and initially separated those women from their White counterparts in a group known as the "West Area Computers" where the women were restricted to segregated dining and bathroom facilities.
  • (3) Katherine Johnson was born on August 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
  • (4) In 1953, Katherine Johnson began her career in aeronautics as a computer in the segregated West Area Computing unit described in paragraph (2).
  • (5) As a member of the Flight Research Division, Katherine Johnson analyzed data from flight tests. After NACA was reformulated into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (referred to in this section as "NASA"), Katherine Johnson
    • (A) calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 mission in 1961, which was the first human spaceflight by an individual from the United States;
    • (B) coauthored a report that provided the equations for describing orbital spaceflight with a specified landing point, which made her the first woman to be recognized as an author of a report from the Flight Research Division;
    • (C) was asked to verify the calculations when electronic computers at NASA were used to calculate the orbit for John Glenn's Friendship 7 mission; and
    • (D) provided calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for the Apollo missions.
  • (6) Katherine Johnson retired from NASA in 1986.
  • (7) Dr. Christine Darden was born on September 10, 1942, in Monroe, North Carolina.
  • (8) In 1962, Dr. Christine Darden graduated from Hampton Institute with a B.S. in Mathematics and a teaching credential.
  • (9) Dr. Christine Darden attended Virginia State University where she studied aerosol physics and earned an M.S. in Applied Mathematics.
  • (10) Dr. Christine Darden began her career in aeronautics in 1967 as a data analyst at NASA's Langley Research Center (referred to in this section as "Langley") before being promoted to aerospace engineer in 1973. Her work in this position resulted in the production of low-boom sonic effects, which revolutionized aerodynamics design.
  • (11) Dr. Christine Darden completed her education by earning a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from George Washington University in 1983.