Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History

Sauer, Anne

Branco, Jessica

Bennett, John

Crowley, Zachary


Bush, Vannevar, 1890-1974


Vannevar Bush (1890-1974), E1913, G1913, life member of the Board of Trustees, noted benefactor, and recipient of the Ballou Medal, was nationally recognized as an outstanding scholar, engineer, and scientist who developed an early version of the computer and oversaw scientific research in the United States during World War II.

Bush received both his bachelor and master of arts degrees from Tufts in 1913, and received his Doctor of Engineering degree through a joint program between Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1916.Following his graduation, Bush continued his association with Tufts as an instructor in mathematics, assistant professor in Electrical Engineering, and professor of Premedical Physics until 1917. He worked with several other recent Tufts' alumni in 1915 to develop on campus the American Radio and Research Corporation (AMRAD), which remained affiliated with Tufts until 1931, when it merged with Magnavox.

In 1919, Bush returned to MIT as an associate professor of Electrical Power Transmission, gaining full professorship in 19, and then, Dean of Engineering in 1932.The same year he was appointed vice-president of the Institute. While a member of the faculty, Bush joined with two associates, including his former Tufts roommate, Laurence Marshall, to found the American Appliance Company, which later became Raytheon Manufacturing Company and continued to evolve into the Metals and Controls Corporation, which manufactured nuclear fuel.

He was also an early figure in the development of computer technology, recognizing the need for machine able to perform mechanical tasks too arduous for mathematicians. In 1930, he developed a differential analyzer, the predecessor of the analog computer.

Bush left MIT in 1938 to become president of the Carnegie Institution, a scientific research organization in Washington, D. C. He retired from the organization in 1955, returning to MIT as Chairman of the Corporation. He also served on the Board of Directors of several large corporations including as Chairman of the Board of Merck and Company.

During World War II, Bush servedthe nation in a number of scientific and policy capacities, including as chairman of the National Defense Research Committee. He was a central figure in the development of nuclear fission and the subsequent development of the atomic bomb. His report, "Science, the Endless Frontier," which he submitted to the President of the United States in 1945, had a far reaching impact on peacetime research and technology throughout both the country and the world. Bush died on June 28, 1974.

Bush was awarded his first of more than two dozen honorary degrees in 1932 from Tufts and began his service to the college as a trustee in 1933. In 1941, he was recipient of the Ballou Medal, the highest award Tufts bestows upon an alumnus. He also received the Distinguished Service Award of the Tufts Alumni Council in 1947. Bush aided in the building program for the College of Engineering in the 1950s and in the Tufts University Program, the 1960s capital fund drive.

Bush's father, Reverend Richard Perry Bush (R1879, H1905) was a Universalist clergyman and lecturer at Tufts School of Religion at the time of his son's birth in 1890 and continued as a member of the faculty when Bush was a freshman at the college. Both of Bush's sisters were also alumnae of the college, with Edith Linwood Bush (W1903, H1942) serving as dean of Jackson College for twenty-seven years and also as the first female professor of Mathematics in the Engineering School.

Source: VF

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  • The encyclopedia seeks to capture more than 150 years of Tufts' achievements, societal contributions and outstanding alumni and faculty in concise entries. As a source of accurate factual information, the Encyclopedia can be used by anyone interested in the history of Tufts and of the people who have made it the unique institution it is.
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Numeric Entries
Dame, Lorin Low, 1838-1903
Dana, Charles A., 1881-1975
Dana Laboratory, 1963
Daniel Ounjian Prize in Economics,
Davies, Caroline Stodder, 1864-1939
Davies House, 1894
De Florez Prize in Human Engineering, 1964
de Pacheco, Kaye MacKinnon, ca. 1910-ca. 1985
Dean Hall, 1887-1963
Dean, Oliver, 1783-1871
Dearborn, Heman Allen, 1831-1897
Department of Anatomy and Cellular Biology, 1893
Department of Anesthesia, 1970
Department of Art and Art History, 1930
Department of Biochemistry, 1893
Department of Chemistry, 1882
Department of Community Health, 1930
Department of Dermatology, 1897
The Department of Economics, 1946
Department of Medicine, 1893
Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology
Department of Neurology, 1893
Department of Neuroscience, 1983
Department of Neurosurgery, 1951
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1893
Department of Ophthamology, 1893
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, 1906
Department of Otolaryngology, 1895
Department of Pathology, 1893
Department of Pediatrics, 1930
Department of Pharmacology, 1915
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 1854
Department of Physiology, 1893
Department of Psychiatry, 1928
Department of Radiation Oncology, 1968
Department of Radiology, 1915
Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, 1955
Department of Surgery, 1893
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy, 1973
Department of Urology, 1910
Dental Health Sciences Building, 1969
Dewick, Cora Alma (Polk), 1875-1977
Dewick/MacPhie Dining Hall, 1959
Dickson Professorship of English and American History, 1913
Dirlam, Arland A., 1905-1979
Dog Cart, 1900
Dolbear, Amos Emerson, 1837-1910
Donald A. Cowdery Memorial Scholarship, 1946
Dr. Benjamin Andrews Professorship of Surgery, 1987
Dr. Philip E. A. Sheridan Prize, 1977
The Drug Bust, 1970
Dudley, Henry Watson, 1831-1906
Dugger, Edward Jr., 1919-75
Durkee, Frank W., 1861-1939
Durkee, Henrietta Noble Brown, 1871-1946
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