Is Vannevar Bush Related to George? The Surprising Truth About the Bush Family

Vannevar Bush and George Bush are two prominent names in American history, but are they related? Many people might assume that they are, since they share the same surname and both have been involved in politics and science. However, the truth is more complicated than that. In this article, we will explore the origins of the Bush family, the achievements of Vannevar and George, and the possible connections between them.

The Origins of the Bush Family

The Bush family is one of the most influential and wealthy families in the United States, with roots dating back to the 17th century. According to, the first Bush ancestor to arrive in America was Samuel Bush, who was born in England in 1647 and settled in Massachusetts. He was a farmer and a miller, and his descendants became prominent merchants, bankers, industrialists, and politicians.

One of Samuel’s great-grandsons was Obadiah Newcomb Bush, who was born in 1797 and moved to Ohio. He was an abolitionist and a supporter of the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that helped enslaved African Americans escape to freedom. He married Harriet Smith, who was also an abolitionist and a descendant of Thomas Hinckley, the governor of Plymouth Colony. Their son, James Smith Bush, was born in 1825 and became an Episcopal priest and an attorney. He married Harriet Eleanor Fay, who was a descendant of several prominent colonial families, including the Adamses and the Quincys.

James and Harriet had a son named Samuel Prescott Bush, who was born in 1863 and became a successful businessman and industrialist. He was involved in the railroad, steel, and banking industries, and served as the president of Buckeye Steel Castings Company. He married Flora Sheldon, who was a descendant of Roger Sherman, a founding father of the United States. Their son, Prescott Sheldon Bush, was born in 1895 and became a banker and a politician. He served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1963. He married Dorothy Walker, who was a daughter of George Herbert Walker, a wealthy businessman and sportsman.

Prescott and Dorothy had five children: Prescott Sheldon Bush Jr., George Herbert Walker Bush, Nancy Walker Bush Ellis, Jonathan James Bush, and William Henry Trotter Bush. George Herbert Walker Bush was born in 1924 and became the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993. He married Barbara Pierce, who was a descendant of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. They had six children: George Walker Bush, Pauline Robinson Bush (who died as a child), John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, Neil Mallon Bush, Marvin Pierce Bush, and Dorothy Walker “Doro” Bush Koch.

George Walker Bush was born in 1946 and became the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He married Laura Welch, who was a librarian and an educator. They had twin daughters: Barbara Pierce Bush Coyne (who married Craig Coyne) and Jenna Welch Bush Hager (who married Henry Hager).

The Achievements of Vannevar Bush

Vannevar Bush was born in 1890 in Massachusetts. He was not related to Samuel Bush or his descendants by blood or by marriage. His surname came from his Dutch ancestor Jan Bosch (or Busch), who immigrated to New Amsterdam (now New York) in the 17th century. His father was Richard Perry Bush, a Universalist minister, and his mother was Emma Linwood Paine.

Vannevar Bush was an engineer, an inventor, and a science administrator. He graduated from Tufts College (now Tufts University) with degrees in mathematics and engineering. He then joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as an electrical engineering professor. He founded Raytheon Company in 1922 with two former students as a manufacturer of radio tubes and other electronic devices.

Vannevar Bush became vice president of MIT and dean of its School of Engineering in 1932. He also became president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington (now Carnegie Institution for Science) in 1938. He was known for his work on analog computers, which could solve complex mathematical problems using electrical or mechanical components. He built several models of differential analyzers, which could handle differential equations with multiple variables.

Vannevar Bush played a crucial role in mobilizing scientific research for military purposes during World War II. He met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 and proposed a plan for coordinating federal funding for scientific projects that could benefit national defense. Roosevelt approved his plan and created the National Defense Research Committee (NDRC), which later became part of the Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD). Vannevar Bush served as the director of both organizations, overseeing the development of radar, sonar, rockets, atomic bombs, and other technologies.

Vannevar Bush also envisioned the future of information and communication. He wrote an influential essay titled “As We May Think” in 1945, which was published in The Atlantic Monthly. In the essay, he described a hypothetical device called a memex, which was a personal library and a workstation that could store, retrieve, and link information from various sources. He also suggested the use of microfilm, speech recognition, and hypertext as ways to improve the efficiency and accessibility of information. His ideas inspired many later innovations, such as personal computers, the internet, and the World Wide Web.

The Possible Connections Between Vannevar and George

Although Vannevar Bush and George Bush were not related by blood or by marriage, they did have some connections through their careers and their interests. Here are some possible examples:

  • Vannevar Bush and George H. W. Bush both served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Vannevar Bush was a civilian adviser to the Navy Department, while George H. W. Bush was a naval aviator who flew 58 combat missions in the Pacific Theater.
  • Vannevar Bush and George H. W. Bush both had ties to Yale University. Vannevar Bush received an honorary doctorate from Yale in 1946, while George H. W. Bush graduated from Yale in 1948 with a degree in economics.
  • Vannevar Bush and George H. W. Bush both had roles in the development of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Vannevar Bush was a member of the President’s Scientific Advisory Board (PSAB), which advised President Harry S. Truman on the creation of the CIA in 1947. George H. W. Bush was the director of the CIA from 1976 to 1977 under President Gerald Ford.
  • Vannevar Bush and George W. Bush both had interests in education and literacy. Vannevar Bush advocated for federal support for scientific education and research after World War II, and wrote a report titled “Science: The Endless Frontier” in 1945, which led to the establishment of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950. George W. Bush signed an education reform bill called the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, which aimed to improve student achievement and accountability in public schools. He also launched a global initiative called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2003, which included funding for education and literacy programs for people affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • Vannevar Bush and George W. Bush both faced major challenges during their presidencies. Vannevar Bush had to deal with the ethical and political implications of developing and using atomic weapons during World War II and the Cold War. He also had to cope with the death of his wife, Phoebe Davis Bush, in 1947 from breast cancer. George W. Bush had to respond to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which resulted in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also had to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused widespread damage and displacement in Louisiana and Mississippi.


Vannevar Bush and George Bush were two remarkable men who made significant contributions to American history, but they were not related by blood or by marriage. They did have some connections through their careers and their interests, but they also had many differences and challenges. They both left behind a legacy of innovation and leadership that continues to inspire generations of Americans.

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