Evelyn Boyd Granville

Evelyn Boyd Granville (1924- ) was the second black woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics. Graduating valedictorian at Dunbar High School and summa cum laude at Smith College in 1945, she went on to Yale University for her Ph.D. in mathematics in 1949. She was heavily affected by the positive role models she found in her teachers throughout her education who never doubted her intelligence as a black student, or a woman, even in segregated schools. She taught briefly at NYU’s Institute for Mathematics until she was offered a position at Fisk University in Nashville. She left Fisk for a job at the National Bureau of Standards (later renamed the Diamond Ordnance Fuze Laboratories) in Washington, D.C., where she worked on the development of missile fuzes, and became acquainted with the exciting new field of computer programming. She joined the IBM team in 1956, learning the computer language SOAP. After a short transfer to IBM’s NYC office, she returned to D.C. to work for NASA where she created computer software for NASA’s space programs Project Vanguard and Project Mercury. She married in 1960 and moved to her husband’s home in California where she worked in the Computation and Data Reduction Center of Space Technology Laboratories. In 1962 she worked on celestial mechanics, trajectory and orbit computations, numerical analysis, and digital computer techniques at the North American Aviation Company. She was a specialist for the Apollo project. She later divorced her husband and returned to teaching computer programming, numerical analysis, and mathematics. She retired from teaching in 1997, but continued to share her enthusiasm for education and mathematics as a public speaker for many years. She is 92 years old this year.