George W and Vannevar
October 22, 2004 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Is President George W. Bush related to Vannevar Bush?
posted by ikkyu2 to Law & Government (5 answers total)
Vannevar Bush does not, as we may think, appear to be related to Presidents Bush. (Har har har, LIS humor!)

I'm not positive, but I'm looking at my as-yet-unread copy of Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century, (Zachary, G. Pascal, 1997). His Massachutsetts father's name was Richard Perry Vannevar and they were a Boston family with Universalist leanings. My skimming of the index and a couple portions of the book reveals all manner of information about Vannevar's family but nothing about any relationship with the Bush in office just before or concurrent with the books writing, so I'd go out on a limb and say that, if they are related, it is only distantly. However, as one Bush likes to mention, absence of proof is not proof of absence, so I would stake my PhD thesis on this evidence.

If you need more confirmation, I can fire up some of the academic biography databases I've got access to.
posted by stet at 6:00 PM on October 22, 2004

I've been looking for the answer to this question for some time - over a year - and have found exactly goose egg, which to me is almost evidence of absence. V. Bush is such a respected figure in American history that I can't see G.W. passing up a chance to tie himself to the man if possible.

What gives with Vannevar Bush's father being named Richard Perry Vannevar? Is this some kind of peculiar Universalist matronymic custom? I don't know anything about Universalism.

As far as "need," the question is just idle curiosity on my part, so I'd appreciate it but not if it's going to cost you an access fee or something like that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:25 PM on October 22, 2004

I'm just about out the door this evening, but I'll spend some time tomorrow looking though the databases (which is only a slight violation of my university's licensing terms, I think) and see what I can find. I also just skimmed a few pages of the bio I've got rather than actually reading it, so I didn't get much background.

I'll repost your question on a library school bulletin board and see what they come up with as well. This is the first time I've heard anyone suggest that G. W. Bush and Vannevar might be related and library school types are obsessed with "As we may think."

I'll check back in the morning and see how the thread's doing.
posted by stet at 6:43 PM on October 22, 2004

I suspect that stet made a typo (this should go in Miguel's ironic usernames/posts thread). The father's name was Richard Perry Bush, a Universalist (i.e. Unitarian) minister. I couldn't find anything about his own ancestry on the common genealogy sites, but he hails from the Everett, MA area. Wait -- this post details a few generations back in RI.

The President's Bush family line goes back to NY, CT, RI and then originally MA in the 17th century -- another Richard Bush, this one 2 centuries earlier. It's conceivable they could be related, probably through the RI Bushes, but it's not necessarily likely that the full descendancy of that man has been traced. (Also, the officially researched line stops a couple of generations later -- the connection to this Richard Bush is conjectural.)

Short answer: possibly, but not closely.

You're kidding when you said W would flog the connection, surely. Oh, and follow that thread through for an amusing TFH post.
posted by dhartung at 10:53 PM on October 22, 2004

Yep, that was a typo. I stared at both posts and couldn't quite figure out what was wrong with them.

So, I would *not* stake my PhD thesis on it. If I were getting one, which I'm not.

And Vannevar Bush's father's name was Richard Perry Bush, as dhartung notes. I cannot type straight.
posted by stet at 2:54 AM on October 23, 2004

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