ABDO provides context to new movie in Hidden Human Computers

July 15, 2016

Edina, Minn. — As Hollywood prepares for Oscar hype and theater patrons clamoring to see the new Hidden Figures film in January, ABDO (abdopublishing.com) prepares to teach students the background and context for the story.

“The contributions of Black women in STEM are invisible,” said Hidden Human Computers author Duchess Harris of the importance of the story. “Not seeing Black women in leadership roles at a place like NASA limits the dreams of Black girls in America and limits all of our imagination.”

Harris’s book, co-written with Sue Bradford Edwards and published by Edina-based ABDO, tells the plight of Black women hired to perform complex mathematical calculations for NASA beginning in the 1940s. The title is part of the Hidden Heroes series from ABDO, available this coming Spring, and is written at a 6-12 grade reading level.

Though the story has been hidden from the public until recently, it is one Harris – a professor and chair of the American Studies Department at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota – is intimately familiar with, as her grandmother was among the earliest human computers.

“I grew up hearing about how my grandmother had a family and a career, and fought racism,” Harris said. “She was essentially my blueprint.”

Whereas the upcoming movie follows the story of three central characters, Hidden Human Computers gives a broader context, from the days when NASA was the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and a legal plantation to John Glenn’s insistence that one of the “human computers” double check the work of the new electronic computers before his flight in space.

“I think it would be great for young people to see the telling of this important story,” Harris said of the movie, with which she has no connection. “Then they should read [my] book and learn the actual facts behind the events.”

Hidden Human Computers is not associated with the Hidden Figures movie or the book off of which it is based. It does, however, share the same basic message and brings to light the same hidden portion of history.

Harris and Bradford Edwards’s book will be available through the ABDO website beginning December 15, 2016. Until then, those interested in learning more can find resources on Harris’s website for the project.

About ABDO

ABDO, a family-owned company, has been publishing educational materials for more than 30 years, including library-bound hardcover editions and a variety of digital products. The company is comprised of five divisions: Abdo Publishing, Magic Wagon, Spotlight, Abdo Kids, and Abdo Digital. For more information, visit ABDO online at abdopublishing.com.

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