Madej Working on Monograph of Virginia Tucker

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LMC has been very fortunate in being able to acquire the papers of Virginia Tucker for the Georgia Tech Library. Tucker is one of the first five women computers to be hired to NACA/NASA in 1935, and Visiting Assistant Professor Krystina Madej is currently working on a monograph of Ms. Tucker with the help of CM intern Chelsea Chong. The research is supported by the WST’s Student-Faculty Research Partnership. 


The day after Labor Day in 1935, Virginia Tucker arrived at Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Virginia to join four other women in the organization's first “Computer Pool.” At the time LMAL was the main research center for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the precursor to NASA). Tucker, who graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 1931 from the University of North Carolina, had taken the Civil Service exam to apply for a job with the federal government and worked as a high school math teacher until she was offered the computing job at NACA four years later.


As one of the first “women computers” Tucker was responsible for processing test data “rapidly and accurately” to move research work forward more quickly and efficiently. WWII escalated the requirement for aeronautical research and as part of her growing responsibilities Tucker took on recruiting other women to become computers. By 1946  Tucker was the Overall Supervisor for Computing at NACA, with over 400 women placed throughout the organization.

Virginia Tucker, “What’s my Name?” Air Scoop, June 14,1946.


Marjorie Williams, who helped Tech acquire Tucker's papers, says of her aunt:

“I think Ginna (that was her nickname) would be very pleased that her professional bio is of value to a premier engineering university library. She was proud of what she had accomplished and worked to bring other women into the nascent engineering field.


Ginna was my chatty, bourbon-drinking, bridge-playing, High-Church, ham-cooking, math-loving spinster aunt. She was smart and lively and kept a dictionary by the bed. She always wet her pencil tip with her tongue before she wrote down the score. She was tidy and wore short hair and long pants when it wasn't yet the fashion. I have one picture of her with her crabbing net at Nags Head and another at a Tijuana bar (during Prohibition) holding up her legal bottle with a big grin. She and her sisters were all educated during a time when that was not the norm--even for men, much less women--and teaching was pretty much a woman's only professional option. When she left her position in California during the early sixties, the math teacher was replaced with two aeronautical engineers.”



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Carol Senf
  • Created:05/05/2014
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016


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