Hidden Figures: People You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Hidden Figures is a series of stories about interesting historical figures you've probably never heard of.

The Power of Stories

When we tell stories instead of facts they are at least 22 times more memorable. That's because evolution has hardwired our brains for storytelling. You might be surprised to hear that our brains actually become more active when we tell and listen to stories, because our whole brain is working. It's challenging to find bite-sized video content online about inspirational people. One study found that 34% of educators are struggling to find time to search for videos, and another that educators spend up to seven hours each week searching for additional instructional resources. That's insane!!

That’s one of the reasons why Untold was created. To harness the power of storytelling and take it into not just the history class, but across the curriculum.

Hidden Figures

The series Hidden Figures has been created with the educator in mind. This series tells stories. Stories of people who have done amazing things, but for some reason are not widely know. From the story of the Robin Hood of Harlem, Stephanie St. Claire, AKA Madame Queenie, Good Samaritan Bob Fletcher, Mexican-American journalist Jovita-Idar, Native American Olympian Jim Thorpe and inventor of the home security system Marie Van Brittan Brown.

Let’s Hear From The Production Team

Our production team enjoyed creating this series so much!

The team included: Producer, Zoe Lack, Script Writer, Lee Henry, Lead Animator, Barbara Cipollone and Sound Engineer, Kevin Gillen. Here's what Lead Animator. Barbara Cipollone had to say about being involved in the series:

"Working on Hidden Figures has been a real honour for me. I have really enjoyed and found it amazing to have the chance to tell through drawings the stories of people that have played such an important role in history but have been unknown for different reasons. Like discovering there was an Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, who helped invent the wifi, or that was a 15 year old kid, Claudette Colvin, first defied segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in 1955, made me work on this project with a special passion and involvement."

Using Hidden Figures in the Classroom

To make it easier for you to use the videos we've created, I’ve created a list of the season 1 and 2 Hidden Figures videos. I've also included the video themes so that you can easily find videos that suit the needs or your curriculum.

Hidden Figures is an ongoing project, and this year we’ll be producing, you guessed it, a season 3. We’re still debating on who to include in this season. But as you can imagine there are some really good contenders.

Season 1

Season 1 was created in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and Driving Force Institute. At the moment these videos are being released on a weekly basis. Here is the link to check out the ones that have been released. The full list of videos and video themes is below.

Season 1Themes
Marie Van Brittan Brownwomen’s history, STEM, black history, 1960s, innovation
Stephanie St. Clair, AKA Madame Queeniewomen’s history, black history, 1920s, prohibition, social justice, community activism, education, Harlem renaissance
Bob FletcherWorld War II, Japanese internment, good deeds, racism
Jovita Idarwomen’s history, Mexican-American stories, racism, journalism, social justice
Frances Oldham Kelseywomen’s history, STEM, scientist, thalidomide, drugs, whistleblower
Nellie Blywomen’s history investigative journalism, travel, mental asylum
Hedy Lamarwomen’s history, Golden Age of Hollywood, STEM, World War II, innovation, sexism
Jim ThorpeNative American history, sport, Olympian, early 20th century
Claudette Colvinwomen’s history, black history, segregation, Jim Crow, Civil rights
John Rollin RidgeNative American, novelist, journalist, social justice, racism, Gold Rush, Cherokee Inidians, Treaty of Echota, Trail of Tears, outlaw, slavery
Bayard RustinLGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, black history, Quaker, Civil Rights Act, activist
Barbara Jordanwomen’s history, black history, public speaking, politics, multiple sclerosis, Richard NIxon’s impeachment, activist
Season 2

Season 2 is currently in production. For this season we have collaborated with the New York Historical Society and Driving Force Institute.

All videos tell the story of women who have done amazing things in American history and form part of their Women and The American Story (WAMS) and the New York Historical Society student historian internship programme. What’s special about these videos, is that the teen leaders who were part of this initiative, co-produced the videos. Due for release later this year, here are the wonderful ladies that will feature.

Season 2Themes
Chien-Shiung Wuwomen’s history, World War II, Manhattan Project,Asian-American, STEM, scientist, racism, Nobel Prize
Elizabeth Freemanwomen’s history, black history, abolitionist,slavery, American Revolution, patriot, freedom
Emma Tenayucawomen’s history, latina history, labor activist, Great Depression, racial inequalities, injustice, unionism, public speaking, Communism, FBI,
Ida B. Wellswomen’s history,black history, journalist, anti-lunching activist, Civil War, slavery, Reconstruction,
Lorenda Holmeswomen’s history, American Revolution, loyalist spy, torture,
Malitzenwomen’s history, Aztec & Mayan empires, Cortes, interpreter, slavery, Spanish conquest, mixed race children
Thomas(ine) Hallwomen’s history, colonial Virginia, LGBTQ+, gender non-conformist,gender norms
Zitkala-Sawomen’s history, Native American history, advocate, activist, civil rights,author, educator, Sioux Indians,Native Americans’ US citizenship

Over To You

Now it’s time for you to explore the first season of Hidden Figures from our series Untold. A free collection of short, compelling history videos and animations designed to shine a light on the stories that don’t make it into the classroom.

For more information about Untold visit the website at untoldhistory.org

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