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Evelyn Boyd Granville was born on this date in 1924. She is a Black mathematician, teacher, and scientist.
From Washington, D.C., she was the daughter of William and Julia Walker Boyd. Her father worked odd jobs due to the Great Depression but separated from her mother when Boyd was young. Boyd and her older sister were raised by her mother and aunt, who both worked at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
She attended a then-segregated Dunbar High School and was encouraged in the subject by two of her mathematics teachers. Granville attended Smith College on a partial scholarship. In 1945, she graduated summa cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She worked with Einar Hille, her Ph.D. faculty adviser at Yale University, in functional analysis.
Granville received a PhD. in mathematics from Yale in 1949, the same year Marjorie Lee Browne received a PhD. in mathematics from the University of Michigan. They were the first Black women to receive a mathematics doctorate in the United States. From there, Granville spent a year researching at the New York University Institute of Mathematics and was a part-time instructor in their math department. In 1950, Professor Granville was appointed as Associate Professor of Mathematics at Fisk University, Nashville, where two of her former students, Vivienne Malone Mayes and Etta Zuber Falconer, went on to receive PhDs in mathematics.
After two years of teaching, Granville went to work for the Diamond Ordnance Fuze Laboratories as an applied mathematician. In 1956, she worked for IBM on the Project Vanguard and Project Mercury space programs, analyzing orbits and developing computer procedures. During that time, in southern California, Granville met the Reverend Gamaliel Mansfield Collins, a minister in the community church. They were married in 1960 and made their home in Los Angeles, but the marriage ended in divorce. In Los Angeles, Granville had taken a job at the Computation and Data Reduction Center of the U.S. Space Technology Laboratories, studying rocket trajectories and methods of orbit computation.
In 1962, she became a research specialist at the North American Aviation Space and Information Systems Division, working on celestial mechanics, trajectory and orbit computation, numerical analysis, and digital computer techniques for the Apollo program. The following year she returned to IBM as a senior mathematician. In 1967, Granville began teaching at California State University in Los Angeles (UCLA).
But she also began working to improve mathematics education at all levels. She taught an elementary school supplemental mathematics program in 1968 and 1969 through the State of California Miller Mathematics Improvement Program. The following year she directed a mathematics enrichment program that provided after-school classes for kindergartners through fifth-grade students, and she taught grades two through five.
In 1970, Granville married Edward V. Granville, a real estate broker. After her 1984 retirement from UCLA, they moved to a 16-acre farm in Texas. From 1985 to 1988, Granville taught mathematics and computer science at Texas College in Tyler. In 1990, she was appointed to the Sam A. Lindsey Chair at the University of Texas at Tyler. Smith College awarded Granville an honorary doctorate in 1989, the first Black woman mathematician to receive such an honor from an American institution.
Granville’s relationships with professional and service organizations and boards include the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the American Association of University Women, where she focused on education and mathematics. Other organizations include the U.S. Civil Service Panel of Examiners of the Department of Commerce and the Psychology Examining Committee of the Board of Medical Examiners of the State of California.
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