Family Tree Tuesday – Buckminster Fuller

Posted March 12, 2013 by Hiromimarie | No Comment

Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller

Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist. He published more than 30 books, inventing and popularizing terms such as “Spaceship Earth”, ephemeralization, and synergetic. He developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, including widely known geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were later named by scientists for their resemblance to geodesic spheres. He was the second president of Mensa from 1974-1983.

He was born Richard Buckminster Fuller on July 12, 1895 in Milton, Massachusetts to Richard Buckminster Fuller and Caroline Wolcott AndrewsLike his father and ancestors before him, Bucky attended Harvard University. Although unlike them, he was expelled from Harvard twice – first for spending all his money partying with a vaudeville troupe, and then, after having been readmitted, for his “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” By his own appraisal, he was a non-conforming misfit in the fraternity environment. Fuller was living in low-income public housing in Chicago, Illinois when he was 32.

Drawing from Fuller's Patent - Laminar Geodesic Dome

While he was serving as the Summer Institute director in 1949 at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, he began reinventing a project that would make him famous which was the geodesic dome. Although the geodesic dome had been created about 30 years earlier by Dr. Walther Bauersfield, Fuller was awarded United States patents. He is credited for popularizing this type of structure.  In 1949, he erected his first geodesic dome building that could sustain its own weight with no practical limits. To prove his design, and to awe non-believers, Fuller suspended from the structure’s framework several students who had helped him build it. The U.S. government recognized the importance of his work, and employed his firm Geodesics, Inc. in Raleigh, North Carolina to make small domes for the Marines.

Fuller believed human societies would soon rely mainly on renewable sources of energy, such as solar- and wind-derived electricity. He hoped for an age of “omni-successful education and sustenance of all humanity.” He referred to himself as “the property of universe” and during one radio interview he gave later in life, declared himself and his work “the property of all humanity”. For his lifetime of work, the American Humanist Association named him the 1969 Humanist of the Year. He was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom on February 23, 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.

Bucky’s great grandfather was Timothy Fuller. Fuller served as member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, as a State councilor and served in the Massachusetts State Senate from 1813 to 1816. He was distinguished as an orator, making effective speeches in behalf of the Seminole Indians, and against the Missouri compromise. Fuller was an ardent supporter of John Quincy Adams, and published a pamphlet entitled “The Election for the Presidency Considered.”
Arthur Buckminster Fuller, Bucky’s grandfather, was a Unitarian clergyman of the United States. He attempted to give the Unitarian Church appeal to all social classes and championed the important liberal reforms of the day. He became a United States Army chaplain during the American Civil War accompanying soldiers into battle and lost his life to a cause in which he firmly believed.

Margaret Fuller

He was the grandnephew of American journalist and women’s rights advocate, Margaret Fuller. She was the first full-time American female book reviewer in journalism and her book Woman in the Nineteenth Century is considered the first major feminist work in the United States. She became the first woman allowed to use the library at Harvard College and she was the first female correspondent for the New York Tribune. Her father Timothy Fuller, offered her an education as rigorous as any boy’s at the time and forbade her from reading the typical feminine fare of the time, such as etiquette books and sentimental novels. Margaret later blamed her father’s exacting love and his valuation of accuracy and precision for her childhood nightmares and sleepwalking.

Bucky Fuller famously wore three watches; one for the current zone, one for the zone he had departed, and one for the zone he was going to.

Check out Buckminster Fuller’s family tree and see how you may be related!

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