A new historical marker honoring North Carolinians who worked as “human computers” for NASA was unveiled outside of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh on Friday, September 22.
As part of the unveiling ceremony, UNC Greensboro University Archivist Erin Lawrimore shared information about Virginia Tucker, a 1930 graduate of the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG) and one of the first human computers hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor to NASA. In 1935, Tucker and four other women formed the first “Computer Pool” at the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory.
By 1946, Tucker was promoted to Overall Supervisor for Computing at Langley. In that position, she trained approximately 400 women and placed them in the computing sections across the facility. She also recruited college women from across the South to work with computers. It is believed that the school now known as UNC Greensboro was the alma mater of the largest number of human computers.
The new historic marker is the result of efforts by students in Meredith College’s Spring 2020 Public History course who conducted research to identify Meredith alumnae and other North Carolinians who worked in these fields. The students completed a formal proposal for these contributions to be recognized on a state highway historical marker.