Historical Stock Photos of the Real Women Behind Hidden Figures

The blockbuster film Hidden Figures revealed the remarkable role African-American women played in NASA's early efforts at space exploration.

Although images from the film have become an iconic representation of the women of NASA, if you are working on a Black History Month article or broadcast, you'll want to find historical stock photos of the real people depicted in the film.

The great news is that many images of the real women of Hidden Figures are available to license as stock photos.

The real women of Hidden Figures

Although many of these images originally come from NASA handouts, several have since been digitally colorized, providing a new visual perspective on this amazing story. Others have been carefully restored and edited.

Browse stock photos of Hidden Figures personalities on Getty Images.

Photos of the women of Hidden Figures

In the early days of NASA, computers weren't machines; they were people!

Technical workers like Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and their team performed the laborious calculations and mathematical work that allowed spacecraft to reach orbit safely, and later reach the moon.

Embed from Getty Images

Sometimes these talented women performed calculations by hand; other times they used electronic adding machines and other then-groundbreaking technologies. Photos from the time period capture the important work they did.

Like many photos of the 1950s-1960s, the originals are black and white. However, new techniques allow for the colorization of many of these images.

Colorized portrait of Katherine Johnson

Our gallery includes newly colorized images of Katherine Johnson and the other women of Hidden Figures from Getty.

The Future of Computing at NASA

As the film Hidden Figures makes clear, although many of these women initially started in low-level technical roles performing manual calculations, several became computer programmers at NASA.

The space agency was one of the first organizations to adopt large digital computers from companies like IBM.

An early IBM computer

Thankfully, many of these early computing breakthroughs are also captured in historical stock photos.

Browse historical stock photos of early computing at NASA and beyond.


The women of Hidden Figures provide a powerful example of a positive Black History story, as well as an inspirational tale of human achievement.

Although the movie does an excellent job of telling their story, turning to historical stock photos of the real women behind these early technical breakthroughs is a great way to build reported feature pieces or videos on topics ranging from African-American history to women in STEM fields.

Check out some of the powerful images depicting NASA's influential human computers, which you can license for your next creative project.

Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a professional news, travel and food photographer, and CEO of the historical photo agency Gado Images. Smith's work routinely appears in publications including Time Magazine, People Magazine and Food + Wine, and Gado Images' historical photos appear in thousands of publications worldwide. The New York Times called Smith a "veteran programmer".

Historical Stock Photos
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