Vannevar Bush was an early computer scientist, visionary and arguably one of the fathers of modern information technology. He also coordinated the Office of Scientific Research and Development, assisting in the Manhattan Project. But what kind of name is “Vannevar?” Apparently it rhymes with “receiver.” From the sound of it I’m going to guess it is originally French - but is there any precedent of this being used as a forename? Or is it just a very odd surname, maybe from some other branch of the family, which was used as a first name, as sometimes happens?
Could just be coincidence, but the “Van-” at the beginning makes me think of Dutch surnames. Perhaps there was a surname “VanNevar” or “VanEvar” in past generations?
EDIT: the OP is already searchable by Google? Wow.
He was named after a friend of the family “John Van Nevar”
The name, as a first name, appears unique, but not alone. It is not uncommon in people with dutch ancestry, particularly in New England, to have first names starting with “Van…” The common nickname for these names is “Van”.
Fascinating, thanks for that info.
There is also a “hit” in the Social Security Death Index for a Vannevar C. Dancer, b. 1949, d. 2005 from Texas. No doubt he was named after the original Vannevar.
I remember reading about Vannevar Bush when I was researching a high school paper on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I always wondered about the origin of his name. Thanks - ignorance fought!
I’ve always pronounced it (and heard it pronounced) VAN-uh-var. Buyilding 13 at MIT is named after him (it’s the building behind the Great Dome, but not the one the dome is on – that’s Building 10). There’s a picture of him behind a drill press in the lobby, looking old and full of engineering knowledge. His clothes, like everything else in the picture, are gray.
That lobby’s also the coldest and most soul-less lobby in the complex. Every now and then they hold events in it, but it doesn’t help, it’s a cold and dismal place with echoes that can’t be deadened, and never receives direct sunlight.
The discussion page for his Wikipedia entry says the pronunciation is “VAN-a-var.” This was confirmed by people who (supposedly) worked with him and knew him. People used to call him “Van” for short.
The Dutch surname “van Evre” seems to be attested at least as far back as the sixteenth century. One Captain Van Evera or Van Nevar commanded a militia company in the American Revolution in the 1780’s.