Brownson (b. 1929) began her career as secretary and technical aide to Dr. A.N. Richards, Chairman of the Committee on Medical Research of the World War II Office of Scientific Research and Development, headed by Dr. Vannevar Bush (1942-1946).  During this time she helped disseminate OSRD to science-technology users.  She then moved on to become secretary for the Special Committee on Technical Information of the Research and Development Board, also headed by Dr. Bush, in the Department of Defense (1946-1951). Brownson later served as Assistant for Program Development, and then Program Director for Scientific Information Research in the Office of Scientific Information, National Science Foundation (1951-1966); she then went on to become the Projects Administrator in the field of Information Processing in the Research Department of the Central Intelligence Agency (1966-1970).  Brownson retired June 30, 1970.

Cleverdon called her “the major influence on documentation research” in the 1950s because of her oversight of dozens of projects.  Brownson was a co-founder of Annual Review of Information Science and Technology.