Evelyn Boyd Granville

Image: Skip Coblyn Birth: May 1, 1924 Specialty: Mathematics, Education Major Contributions: One of the first African-American Women to earn a PhD in Mathematics Developed early intervention curriculum for mathematics Worked on various parts of the Apollo missions

Image: Skip Coblyn
Birth: May 1, 1924
Specialty: Mathematics, Education
Major Contributions:
One of the first African-American Women to earn a PhD in Mathematics
Developed early intervention curriculum for mathematics
Worked on various parts of the Apollo missions

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A native of Washington D.C., Dr. Evelyn Boyd Granville, was one of the first African-American women to earn a doctorate in mathematics and has been a practicing mathematician and teacher for most of her life.

Attending Smith College she graduated with honors in 1945 and continued her studies at Yale University earning a master’s in mathematics and physics in one year, and her PhD in 1949 with her work focusing on functional analysis. While completing her post-doctoral work at New York University she was unable to find a teaching position due to both gender and racial discrimination. Accepting a teaching position at Fisk University she taught in Nashville, Tennessee for two years before returning to Washington to work as a mathematician with the National Bureau of Standards, where she became interested in computer programming.

In 1956 she began working at IBM as a programmer including contracted work for NASA in which  she created computer software that analyzed satellite orbits for Projects Vanguard and Mercury. She moved to Los Angeles four years later to work with computing orbits, including work with the Apollo Program.

In 1967 she returned to teaching at the college level and found herself frustrated with the lack of mathematics skills of her students. She and a colleague began looking into ways to improve elementary math education as a way of addressing this issue.  In 1968 she was part of the Miller Mathematics Improvement Program where she taught at a Los Angeles elementary school after which she co-authored a book entitled Theory and Applications of Mathematics for Teachers.

She retired in 1984 but went back to teaching, this time at Texas College until 1988 and after taking a few years to travel she stated teaching at University of Texas at Tyler retiring again in 1998.

Granville returned to Washington D.C. after the death of her husband and continues to sharpen her mind with Scrabble games played three times a week, being involved in many committees, and even teaching a course she titled “Math for Fun with Evelyn” at her retirement community.

Written by Angela Goad

Sources:

Black Women in Mathematics: Evelyn Boyd Granville

Evelyn Boyd Granville

Biography.com: Evelyn Boyd Granville

Mathematics, Live: A Conversation with Evelyn Boyd Granville

See Also:

The Lives We Lead: Evelyn Boyd Granville ’45 (Smith College Alumnae Relations)

Infinite Possibilities Conference