Hattie Scott Peterson

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Hattie Scott Peterson
Photo of Hattie Peterson
Hattie T. Scott

(1913-10-11)October 11, 1913
Died10 April 1993(1993-04-10) (aged 79)
Alma mater
Known for
  • First African-American woman to gain degree in civil engineering
  • First woman engineer in her local USACE
ChildrenLori Peterson (Adopted)
Scientific career
  • Civil engineering

Hattie T. Scott Peterson (1913–1993)[1][2] is believed to be the first African-American woman to gain a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.[3][4]


Hattie Scott was born in Norfolk, Virginia on October 11, 1913, to Hattie (Wilkinson) and Uzeil Scott.[1][3] She married Donald Charles Peterson (1912-1978) in 1943.[1][2]

In 1946, Peterson graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, and began working as a survey and cartographic engineer for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Sacramento, California in 1947.[1][5]

She joined the local U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 1954, where she was the first woman engineer and encouraged engineering as a profession for women.[3]

Peterson was a member of the National Technical Association, the American Society of Photogrammetry, and the Unitarian Church.[1] She was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.[6] She died on April 10, 1993 in Sacramento.[2] She and her husband left an endowment for scholarships at Howard University.[7]


The Sacramento district of the USACE grants a Hattie Peterson Inspirational Award annually in her honor:[3] "The purpose of the Hattie Peterson Award is to recognize the Sacramento District individual whose actions best exemplify the highest qualities of personal and professional perseverance through social challenges."[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e Fleming, G. James; Burckel, Christian E. (1950). Who's who in Colored America: An Illustrated Biographical Directory of Notable Living Persons of African Descent in the United States. Yonkers-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Christian E. Burckel & Associates. p. 415.
  2. ^ a b c McGuire, R. "Hattie Scott Peterson". FindAGrave.com. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d "Hattie Peterson (1913-1993)". Library.ca.gov. California State Library. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  4. ^ Jordan, Diann (2007). Sisters in science : conversations with black women scientists about race, gender, and their passion for science (1. pbk. print. ed.). West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-1557534453. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  5. ^ "5 Engineers We're Celebrating This Black History Month IEEE Transmitter". IEEE Transmitter. 2020-02-10. Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  6. ^ Represent365 (2019-09-25). "Hattie Scott Peterson". Retrieved 2020-06-10.
  7. ^ "Donor Based Scholarships". Howard.edu. Howard University. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
  8. ^ "People's Choice Award Winners". The Prospector. 80 (4): 6. Winter 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2017.