Ann Dunham – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted By on August 11, 2015

This article is about the mother of Barack Obama. For the British equestrian, see Anne Dunham. Ann Dunham

Ann Dunham in 1960

Stanley Ann Dunham (November 29, 1942 November 7, 1995) was the mother of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, and an American anthropologist who specialized in economic anthropology and rural development.[1] Dunham was known as Stanley Dunham through high school, then as Ann Dunham, Ann Obama, Ann Soetoro, Ann Sutoro (after her second divorce), and finally as Ann Dunham.[2] Born in Wichita, Kansas, Dunham spent her childhood in California, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas, her teenage years in Mercer Island, Washington, and most of her adult life in Hawaii and Indonesia.[3]

Dunham studied at the EastWest Center and at the University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, where she attained a bachelor's in anthropology[4] and master's and Ph.D. in anthropology.[5] She also attended University of Washington at Seattle in 1961-1962. Interested in craftsmanship, weaving and the role of women in cottage industries, Dunham's research focused on women's work on the island of Java and blacksmithing in Indonesia. To address the problem of poverty in rural villages, she created microcredit programs while working as a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development. Dunham was also employed by the Ford Foundation in Jakarta and she consulted with the Asian Development Bank in Gujranwala, Pakistan. Towards the latter part of her life, she worked with Bank Rakyat Indonesia, where she helped apply her research to the largest microfinance program in the world.[5]

After her son was elected President, interest renewed in Dunham's work: The University of Hawaii held a symposium about her research; an exhibition of Dunham's Indonesian batik textile collection toured the United States; and in December 2009, Duke University Press published Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, a book based on Dunham's original 1992 dissertation. Janny Scott, an author and former New York Times reporter, published a biography about Ann Dunham's life titled A Singular Woman in 2011. Posthumous interest has also led to the creation of The Ann Dunham Soetoro Endowment in the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawaii at Mnoa, as well as the Ann Dunham Soetoro Graduate Fellowships, intended to fund students associated with the EastWest Center (EWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii.[6]

In an interview, Barack Obama referred to his mother as "the dominant figure in my formative years... The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics."[7]

Dunham was born on November 29, 1942 at Saint Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas,[8] the only child of Madelyn Lee Payne and Stanley Armour Dunham.[9] She was of predominantly English ancestry, with some German, Swiss, Scottish, Irish, and Welsh ancestry.[10]Wild Bill Hickok is her sixth cousin, five times removed.[11]

Ancestry.com announced on July 30, 2012, after using a combination of old documents and yDNA analysis, that Dunham's mother may have been descended from African John Punch, who was an indentured servant/slave in seventeenth-century colonial Virginia.[12][13]

Her parents were born in Kansas and met in Wichita, where they married on May 5, 1940.[14] After the attack on Pearl Harbor, her father joined the United States Army and her mother worked at a Boeing plant in Wichita.[15] According to Dunham, she was named after her father because he wanted a son, though her relatives doubt this story and her maternal uncle recalled that her mother named Dunham after her favorite actress Bette Davis' character in the film In This Our Life because she thought it sounded sophisticated.[16] As a child and teenager she was known as Stanley.[2] Other children teased her about her name but she used it through high school, "apologizing for it each time she introduced herself in a new town".[17] By the time Dunham began attending college, she was known by her middle name, Ann, instead.[2] After World War II, Dunham's family moved from Wichita to California while her father attended the University of California, Berkeley. In 1948, they moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, and from there to Vernon, Texas, and then to El Dorado, Kansas.[18] In 1955, the family moved to Seattle, Washington, where her father was employed as a furniture salesman and her mother worked as vice president of a bank. They lived in an apartment complex in the Wedgwood neighborhood where she attended Nathan Eckstein Junior High School.[19]

In 1956, Dunham's family moved to Mercer Island, an Eastside suburb of Seattle. Dunham's parents wanted their 13-year-old daughter to attend the newly opened Mercer Island High School.[7] At the school, teachers Val Foubert and Jim Wichterman taught the importance of challenging social norms and questioning authority to the young Dunham, and she took the lessons to heart: "She felt she didn't need to date or marry or have children." One classmate remembered her as "intellectually way more mature than we were and a little bit ahead of her time, in an off-center way",[7] and a high school friend described her as knowledgeable and progressive: "If you were concerned about something going wrong in the world, Stanley would know about it first. We were liberals before we knew what liberals were." Another called her "the original feminist".[7]

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Ann Dunham - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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