Twitter Sleuth Enlists Smithsonian To Solve Mystery Of Lone Black Woman Scientist In Old Photograph


Twitter engaged in a massive investigation to determine the identity of an unnamed black female scientist in a photograph from a 1971 International Conference on the Biology of Whales. Most of the men in the photograph appear to be white males and are named in the caption for the photograph.

Even the Smithsonian aided in the search for this unnamed scientist.

Missing Biologist

Recognition for people of color in the scientific community has been scarce in the past. When Candace Jean Andersen posted on Twitter that she would write a picture book about the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, she was sent an article by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration that featured a photograph of the 1971 International Conference on the Biology of Whales.

Andersen noticed that one of the scientists stood out in a field of mostly white men as a black woman. The only problem was that out of all of the people in the picture, the woman was not named in the caption of the photograph.

To get down to the bottom of the mystery, Andersen turned to Twitter for answers regarding the identity of the mystery woman. Andersen reached out to some of the scientists that were present in the photograph. They directed her in the right way to find out the identity of the woman.

After finding out that her name may have been Sheila Minor, the Smithsonian was able to find a folder on Sheila Minor in its archives. Andersen was able to confirm that the woman in the photograph was indeed Sheila Minor after getting in contact with her.

Sheila Minor Huff

Andersen dug through the records to find out more about the background of Sheila Minor Huff. Huff told Andersen that she had worked in various federal agencies for 35 years. She was at the conference as a biological research technician with bachelor's in biology, not as an administrative assistant as previously believed.

Huff began working as an animal technician after she graduated with her bachelor's degree. She eventually completed a master's degree while working full-time. During her 35 year career, she became a GS-14 federal employee, which is one of the highest designations for someone working in the Department of Interior.

Huff told the New York Times that she wasn't bothered by the fact that her name was omitted from the photo in the first place. She added that it didn't matter whether anyone knew her name because she did her part to protect the Earth.

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