Hidden Figures


Margot Lee Shetterly

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Hidden Figures makes teaching easy.

Margot Lee Shetterly

Margot Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures and the daughter of a climate research scientist who worked at Langley Research Center. Growing up, Shetterly would visit her father often at his office at Langley… read analysis of Margot Lee Shetterly

Dr. Robert B. Lee III

Dr. Robert B. Lee III is Margot Lee Shetterly’s father and a renowned climate scientist who, for years, worked at Langley. He is a supportive father who maintains a close relationship with his daughter… read analysis of Dr. Robert B. Lee III

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

Katherine Coleman (who took on the married names Goble and Johnson) is a passionate, outspoken black mathematician who works in the Flight Research Division at the Langley Research Center. Born in White Sulphur Springs, West… read analysis of Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

Dorothy Vaughan

Dorothy Vaughan is a strong-minded, black mathematician who joins Langley as a human computer in 1943 and then works her way up to become the organization’s first black section head. She is extremely pragmatic and… read analysis of Dorothy Vaughan

Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson works as a teacher and a USO secretary before taking a job as a computer at the NACA. She is extremely bright, and she finds herself frustrated when the intelligence that landed her… read analysis of Mary Jackson
Get the entire Hidden Figures LitChart as a printable PDF.
Hidden Figures PDF

Christine (Mann) Darden

Christine Darden (Also Christine Mann) is a black female aeronautical engineer who worked at the Langley Research Center for many years as a data analyst before rising to the top level in her field. She… read analysis of Christine (Mann) Darden

Margerey Hannah

Margerey Hannah is West Area computing’s white section chief. She treats the West Area women as equals and even invites a few of them to work-related social affairs at her home, something that makes her… read analysis of Margerey Hannah

John Glenn

John Glenn is an astronaut and the first American to orbit the Earth. Confident, charismatic and well-prepared for his role, he represents the American dream of spaceflight and technological prowess. He helps make Katherine Johnsonread analysis of John Glenn

A. Philip Randolph

A. Philip Randolph is an African-American Civil Rights leader and labor organizer who fights for equal rights for African-American workers. He works tirelessly to secure better work opportunities for black people, including threatening to stage… read analysis of A. Philip Randolph

Henry Pearson

Henry Pearson is the head of the branch of the Flight Research Division where Katherine Johnson works. He pulls her from Dorothy Vaughan’s computing group, but he has to be persuaded to hire her on… read analysis of Henry Pearson

William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor

William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor is a black research mathematician who graduates from Howard University in 1929 and earns a PhD in math from the University of Pennsylvania in 1933 (only the third black person in… read analysis of William Waldron Schieffelin Claytor
Minor Characters
Blanche Sponsler
Blanche Sponsler is Margerey Hannah’s assistant who takes over for Margery when Margery is promoted. She suffers a mental breakdown at work, and is taken to an asylum, where she passes away. When she dies, Dorothy Vaughan takes over the role of West Area computing’s acting section head.
Charles Hamilton Houston
Charles Hamilton Houston is a black lawyer and former military officer who leads the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund in fighting several discrimination and segregation cases that make it to the Supreme Court, including Brown vs. Board of Education, which leads to the desegregation of public schools nationwide.
Howard Vaughan
Howard Vaughan is Dorothy Vaughan’s husband. She leaves him behind when she moves to Hampton, VA to take a job as a computer at Langley.
President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson was the President of the United States from 1913-1921 and a native Virginian. Although he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts in founding the League of Nations, he is dedicated to reinstating and preserving segregation in the Civil Service after Reconstruction.
Virginia Tucker
Virginia Tucker is Langley’s head female mathematician and Margerey Hannah’s boss.
Harry Byrd
Harry Byrd is Virginia’s Democratic Senator who mounts a major resistance effort to federally mandated integration of schools.
Robert “R.T.” Jones
R.T. Jones is one of the most brilliant engineers on Langley’s staff, and a progressive scientist who supports equal rights for African-Americans.
Henry Reid
Henry Reid is the engineering director of the Langley laboratory.
Miriam Mann
Miriam Mann is one of the first black female mathematicians to take a job at Langley. She steals the “Colored Computers” sign that marks the table where black computers are supposed to sit, and keeps stealing it until it disappears.
Joshua Colemans
Joshua Coleman is Katherine Johnson’ father and a brilliant mathematician who encourages Katherine’s educational pursuits.
Dorothy Hoover
Dorothy Hoover is a black aeronautical research scientist in Langley’s Stability Analysis Division and one of the first women at Langley to publish research papers.
Doris Cohen
Doris Cohen is a female mathematician and the first woman at the NACA to publish a research paper. Between 1941 and 1945, she publishes nine reports on high-speed aeronautical research, five as sole author and four coauthored with R.T. Jones whom she eventually marries.
James Williams
James Williams is a black engineer and former Tuskegee airman who graduates from the University of Michigan before joining Langley in the early 1950s.
John Becker
John Becker is the chief of the NACA’s Compressibility Division. He inadvertently helps Mary Jackson make a name for herself at Langley when he challenges her numbers, and she proves that the error is his fault, not hers.
Kazimierz Czarnecki
Kazimeirz Czarnecki is an aeronautical engineer and assistant section head in the NACA’s Four-by-Four-Foot Supersonic Pressure Tunnel. He offers Mary Jackson a job on his team and helps her become an engineer.
Thomas Byrdsong
Thomas Byrdsong is a black engineer who joins Langley in 1952 and becomes friends with Mary Jackson.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower
President Dwight D. Eisenhower is the 34th president of the United States. He presides over a portion of the Cold War and passes measures to increase U.S. proficiency in science and engineering.
Levi Jackson, Jr.
Levi Jackson Jr. is Mary Jackson’s son. She helps him become the first black winner of the soap box derby race.
J. Lindsay Almond
J. Lindsay Almond is a Virginia governor who opposes integration and forces the closing of Virginia’s public schools after the Supreme Court outlaws segregation.
President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy was the President of the United States from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. In Hidden Figures, Kennedy signs an Executive Order to ensure equal opportunity for all job applicants regardless of race, color, creed, or national origin.
Alan Shepard
Alan Shepard is an American astronaut and the first American to travel into space. Katherine Johnson plays a major role in calculating his flight trajectory.
Gloria Champine
Gloria Champine is a female mathematician at Langley who advances from a clerical position in the Dynamic Loads Division to a job as Technical Assistant to the Division Chief of Space Systems, a role that had previously only been held by men.
Pearl Young
Pearl Young is the NACA’s first female engineer and the founder of the organization’s rigorous editorial review process for research reports.
Yuri Gargarin
Yuri Gargarin is a Russian cosmonaut who becomes the first human in space and the first human to orbit Earth.
Melvin Butler
Melvin Butler is the personnel officer at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory who opens the doors to the facility’s earliest black female mathematicians.
Emma Jean Landrum
Emma Jean Landrum is a female engineer at Langley. She is close friends with Mary Jackson and teams up with her to advocate for the advancement of women engineers of all colors.