E&H’s Hidden Role in “Hidden Figures”

Posted by Rachael Wilbur
The book, “Hidden Figures,” has been made into a movie and everyone is loving the story. But you might not know about a couple of E&H figures who are in the story.

If you’re reading Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures (which has a movie opening on Christmas Day 2016) you may have noticed that toward the end of the book there is a reference to Katherine Johnson working with John Young. That’s Emory & Henry’s John Young, Class of 1955 (deceased).

Hidden Figures tells the story of the unsung “computers” – the women, many of whom were African American, who crunched the numbers for engineers. It’s a story of the people who were pivotal to the space race but had barriers to being classified as engineers because of gender and race. One of the main figures profiled in the book is Katherine Johnson: the woman who John Glenn requested to do the final calculations for re-entry before he would agree to his trip into orbit.

Katherine taught school for many years in Marion, Virginia, and her first husband, James Goble, was a brother to Scrapper Broady’s mother. Scrapper is a 1970 E&H graduate and is currently serving his alma mater on the Emory & Henry Board of Trustees. He was among the first African American students to study at Emory & Henry. He remembers John Young’s father, Dr. Worth J. “Rusty” Young (E&H ’27, former E&H physics professor) speaking highly of his aunt’s work. “And she spoke highly of the Youngs, too.”

John Young worked alongside Katherine for around 25 years.  John’s brother, E&H alumnus Phil Young (E&H ’62, self-described “retired rocket scientist”) also spent his career at NASA. Phil worked with Margot Lee Shetterly’s father, and remembers Mary Jackson and Christina Darden (profiled in the book) from his days at NASA’s Hampton Roads division. He also met Katherine Johnson a time or two. Phil says Katherine told him that she takes credit for teaching John to talk. “They called him Silent John in college. One day at Langley, Katherine threw some paper in John’s waste basket, and he said, ‘Who told you you could use my trash can?’ And Katherine shouted, ‘He can talk!’”

Back in 1985, Patsi Trollinger (E&H ’72, former E&H Public Relations Director) wrote an E&H Alumni Magazine story about the large number of E&H alumni who were involved with the space program. Phil says the recruiter from Langley would visit Emory & Henry because they needed good employees, and they needed a lot of them. “He liked the graduates from Emory & Henry, so he kept coming back to campus to recruit. My father [Dr. Rusty Young] would point out the students who were especially promising.” The alumni magazine article includes a long list of over 25 alumni who worked at Langley and NASA over the years, but conversations will prove that it still isn’t an exhaustive list. Technical writers, engineers, mathematicians – there were many roles in the space program filled by talented scientists with E&H degrees.

“It’s amazing that so many E&H people worked on Apollo. With only 5-6 science grads a year versus the numbers being put out by places like Purdue – Emory & Henry probably had a higher percentage of alumni in the space program than any college in America.”

 

Doug Green Wendy McGlohn Green and Phil Young withPhil Young (E&H ’62, former NASA scientist) posing with daughter Wendy McGlohn Green (E&H ’97, decorated educator) and her husband, Doug at a recent family gathering. Phil remembers being a high school kid and standing at the old filling station in Emory and watching Sputnik fly over Emory & Henry. Now he marvels at how many Emory & Henry alumni were part of the United States’ first foray into space

 

John Young's college photo

 

John Young’s senior photo from the 1955 Sphinx yearbook.

 

Scrapper BroadyScrapper Broady’s aunt, Katherine Johnson, has had her story told in the book Hidden Figures.

  • The cover of Margot Lee Shetterly's book, Hidden Figures.
    The cover of Margot Lee Shetterly's book, Hidden Figures.

Save & Share:

More News

  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" title="Perfect Harmony!" aria-label="Perfect Harmony!"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg" alt="Carolinas Mixed Quartet Champions" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/604,99,923,417/3305_Carolinas_Mixed_Quartet_Champions.rev.1518801465.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1315" data-max-h="872"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" title="Perfect Harmony!" aria-label="Perfect Harmony!">Perfect Harmony!</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Warren Fuson’s (E&H ’73) quartet just won a big competition! Give a listen! <a href="/live/news/295-perfect-harmony" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Perfect Harmony!" aria-label="Perfect Harmony!">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/519-dogs-best-friend" title="Dog’s Best Friend" aria-label="Dog’s Best Friend"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/4527_IMG-9834.rev.1536347287.JPG" alt="One of the adoptable dogs found at BARK." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/4527_IMG-9834.rev.1536347287.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,2400,3200/4527_IMG-9834.rev.1536347287.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3200"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/519-dogs-best-friend" title="Dog’s Best Friend" aria-label="Dog’s Best Friend">Dog’s Best Friend</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">David “Skip” Harless shows up day after day to make sure the dogs of BARK feel loved. <a href="/live/news/519-dogs-best-friend" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Dog’s Best Friend" aria-label="Dog’s Best Friend">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/546-first-ever-online-tailgate" title="First Ever Online Tailgate" aria-label="First Ever Online Tailgate"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG" alt="Prizes were ready for the first ever online tailgate!" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/588,0,2988,2400/4734_IMG-0674_2.rev.1538488532.JPG 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2400"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/546-first-ever-online-tailgate" title="First Ever Online Tailgate" aria-label="First Ever Online Tailgate">First Ever Online Tailgate</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Believe it or not...it worked! <a href="/live/news/546-first-ever-online-tailgate" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="First Ever Online Tailgate" aria-label="First Ever Online Tailgate">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/406-kim-cressell-has-the-greatest-shop-on-earth" title="Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth" aria-label="Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/560,0,2016,1455/4145_IMG_0071.rev.1525982477.jpg" alt="Kim Cressell (E&H '93) at The Reserve in Sarasota, Florida." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/560,0,2016,1455/4145_IMG_0071.rev.1525982477.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/560,0,2016,1455/4145_IMG_0071.rev.1525982477.jpg 3x" data-max-w="2016" data-max-h="1512"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/406-kim-cressell-has-the-greatest-shop-on-earth" title="Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth" aria-label="Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth">Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">It’s a shop that is far more exciting than retail; but what ARE those red buildings? <a href="/live/news/406-kim-cressell-has-the-greatest-shop-on-earth" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth" aria-label="Kim Cressell has the Greatest Shop on Earth">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/296-a-st-judes-hero" title="A St. Jude’s Hero" aria-label="A St. Jude’s Hero"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,48,764,812/3319_20180125_123141.rev.1519077228.jpg" alt="Emily Tolley Boyles" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,48,764,812/3319_20180125_123141.rev.1519077228.jpg 2x" data-max-w="764" data-max-h="1018"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/296-a-st-judes-hero" title="A St. Jude’s Hero" aria-label="A St. Jude’s Hero">A St. Jude’s Hero</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Emily Tolley Boyles said she’d NEVER run a full marathon. But that was before she met Mighty Max. <a href="/live/news/296-a-st-judes-hero" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="A St. Jude’s Hero" aria-label="A St. Jude’s Hero">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/921-jarell-christian-eamph-09-tapped-for-nba-coaching" title="Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position" aria-label="Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/91,0,352,261/6668_JC.rev.1564783007.jpg" alt="Jarell Christian (E&H '09) with his child." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="390" data-max-h="261"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/921-jarell-christian-eamph-09-tapped-for-nba-coaching" title="Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position" aria-label="Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position">Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">The Washington Wizards have added Christian as a new assistant coach. <a href="/live/news/921-jarell-christian-eamph-09-tapped-for-nba-coaching" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position" aria-label="Jarell Christian (E&H ’09) Tapped for NBA Coaching Position">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/412-finding-french-roots" title="Finding French Roots" aria-label="Finding French Roots"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/120,70,372,322/4181_IMG_6862_1.rev.1527277507.JPG" alt="Tim Fields (E&H re'88) at the Ritz Carlton in Paris, France." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="480" data-max-h="640"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/412-finding-french-roots" title="Finding French Roots" aria-label="Finding French Roots">Finding French Roots</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Tim Fields is part of an organization seeking out the early French influences of the City of New Orleans. <a href="/live/news/412-finding-french-roots" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Finding French Roots" aria-label="Finding French Roots">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/63-a-man-for-san-fran" title="A Man for San Fran" aria-label="A Man for San Fran"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,960,640/654_Doug_Dalton.rev.1506449976.jpg" alt="Doug Dalton E&H Class of 1994" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,960,640/654_Doug_Dalton.rev.1506449976.jpg 2x" data-max-w="960" data-max-h="640"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/63-a-man-for-san-fran" title="A Man for San Fran" aria-label="A Man for San Fran">A Man for San Fran</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Doug Dalton saw a problem in San Francisco and he set out to solve it. And, wow, is he ever having a good time. <a href="/live/news/63-a-man-for-san-fran" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="A Man for San Fran" aria-label="A Man for San Fran">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/660-how-do-you-love-your-neighbor-in-the-midst-of" title="How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?" aria-label="How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.jpg" alt="Rev. Wil Cantrell, E&H Class of 2001." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,750,845/5907_Wil-CasMug_2.5_inches.rev.1548777885.jpg 2x" data-max-w="750" data-max-h="845"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/660-how-do-you-love-your-neighbor-in-the-midst-of" title="How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?" aria-label="How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?">How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">A book by Rev. Wil Cantrell (E&H ’01) intends to help United Methodists remain committed to the Church during a contentious debate. <a href="/live/news/660-how-do-you-love-your-neighbor-in-the-midst-of" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?" aria-label="How do you love your neighbor in the midst of conflict?">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/726-eamph-alumnistudent-win-award-for-service" title="E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service" aria-label="E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/492,192,2432,2133/6074_DSC_5445_2.rev.1553176670.JPG" alt="Walker Long, Jake Caudill, Sam Caudill with their service award certificate from the USDA." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/492,192,2432,2133/6074_DSC_5445_2.rev.1553176670.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/492,192,2432,2133/6074_DSC_5445_2.rev.1553176670.JPG 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/726-eamph-alumnistudent-win-award-for-service" title="E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service" aria-label="E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service">E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Congrats to Jacob Caudill (Class of ’18), Walker Long (Class of ’18) and Sam Caudill (current E&H student). <a href="/live/news/726-eamph-alumnistudent-win-award-for-service" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service" aria-label="E&H Alumni/Student Win Award for Service">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/716-andy-rhudy-receives-medal-of-valor" title="Andy Rhudy Receives Medal of Valor" aria-label="Andy Rhudy Receives Medal of Valor"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/57,80,320,343/6038_Andy_Rhudy.rev.1551734272.jpg" alt="Andy Rhudy, E&H '95, with daughters Bonnie and Molly and wife Julie Pennington Rhudy (" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/57,80,320,343/6038_Andy_Rhudy.rev.1551734272.jpg 2x" data-max-w="960" data-max-h="960"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/716-andy-rhudy-receives-medal-of-valor" title="Andy Rhudy Receives Medal of Valor" aria-label="Andy Rhudy Receives Medal of Valor">Andy Rhudy Receives Medal of Valor</a></h4></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/588-martha-spencer-featured-in-rolling-stone-magazine" title="Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine" aria-label="Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,385,385/5682_Martha_Spencer.rev.1542729707.jpg" alt="Martha Spencer,Emory & Henry grad" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="385" data-max-h="385"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/588-martha-spencer-featured-in-rolling-stone-magazine" title="Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine" aria-label="Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine">Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Martha is noted as an “artist you need to know.” <a href="/live/news/588-martha-spencer-featured-in-rolling-stone-magazine" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine" aria-label="Martha Spencer featured in Rolling Stone magazine">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/623-not-a-typical-success-story" title="Not a Typical Success Story" aria-label="Not a Typical Success Story"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/633,620,1708,1696/5787_IMG_6576_1.rev.1546551600.JPG" alt="Rachel Shenk and Patrick Holcomb at a wedding in Northern Virginia." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/633,620,1708,1696/5787_IMG_6576_1.rev.1546551600.JPG 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/633,620,1708,1696/5787_IMG_6576_1.rev.1546551600.JPG 3x" data-max-w="2400" data-max-h="3200"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/623-not-a-typical-success-story" title="Not a Typical Success Story" aria-label="Not a Typical Success Story">Not a Typical Success Story</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Rachel Shenk and Patrick Holcomb are on Colorado’s front line of a new industry: legal cannabis. <a href="/live/news/623-not-a-typical-success-story" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Not a Typical Success Story" aria-label="Not a Typical Success Story">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/579-an-opera-about-locusts" title="An Opera about Locusts?" aria-label="An Opera about Locusts?"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/731,0,1659,927/5662_Christin_Colvin.rev.1542301199.jpg" alt="Cristin Colvin (E&H ’09) performing in the opera “Locust.”" class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/731,0,1659,927/5662_Christin_Colvin.rev.1542301199.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/731,0,1659,927/5662_Christin_Colvin.rev.1542301199.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1700" data-max-h="1189"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/579-an-opera-about-locusts" title="An Opera about Locusts?" aria-label="An Opera about Locusts?">An Opera about Locusts?</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">Cristin Colvin can even make insects glamorous. <a href="/live/news/579-an-opera-about-locusts" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="An Opera about Locusts?" aria-label="An Opera about Locusts?">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/609-judi-and-steves-love-story-was-worth-the-wait" title="Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait" aria-label="Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait"><img src="/live/image/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1338,1225/5751_44361863_281480005807290_2386448545948368896_n.rev.1544663679.jpg" alt="Judi Kyle August and Steve Crabtree are all smiles." class="lw_image" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1338,1225/5751_44361863_281480005807290_2386448545948368896_n.rev.1544663679.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/68/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1338,1225/5751_44361863_281480005807290_2386448545948368896_n.rev.1544663679.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1338" data-max-h="1225"/></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/609-judi-and-steves-love-story-was-worth-the-wait" title="Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait" aria-label="Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait">Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary">It’s a story of romance…and perfect timing…and football <a href="/live/news/609-judi-and-steves-love-story-was-worth-the-wait" class="link-with-arrow gold" title="Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait" aria-label="Judi and Steve’s Love Story Was Worth the Wait">Keep reading</a></div></div>