Women's Activism NYC

Pearl Young

1895 - 1968

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Born in 1895, Pearl Young became the first female professional hired by The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She attended Jamestown College for two years and, in 1919, graduated from the University of North Dakota as a Phi Beta Kappa with a triple major in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. After graduation, she was hired by the university to teach physics, a role typically held by men. At that time, there was only one female physicist working for the entire federal government and she worked for the National Bureau of Standards. After a productive initial career in the field of instrumentation, she recognized the shortcomings of technical writing by the Langley staff and the lack of a systematic approach within the NACA in the preparation of technical documents. She personally conceived and implemented a highly successful technical writing system that resulted in outstanding documentation of superior quality. After she retired at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), she became the Chief Technical Editor at NACA's Langley Instrument Research Laboratory and an engineering professor. On June 16, 1968, her obituary noted that she had been a scientist, university professor, journalist, lecturer, author and world traveler. Her interest in science was extended when she donated her body to science. The technical writing system inspired by her efforts was implemented by the NACA and NASA and continues to be used today.

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