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date: 07 April 2020

Samuelson, Paul Anthonylocked

(15 May 1915–13 Dec. 2009)
  • Roger E. Backhouse

Extract

Samuelson, Paul Anthony (15 May 1915–13 Dec. 2009), economist, was born Paul Antonio Samuelson, in Gary, Indiana, the second of three sons of Frank and Ella Samuelson (nee Lypski), whose families had migrated from Suwalki, near the Polish-German border. Frank was a successful pharmacist who lost much money in property speculation in Florida, which caused the family to move to Chicago, where they relied on income from their fried chicken restaurant, possibly because Frank was in poor health. Though coming from a Jewish family, Paul and his brothers had a secular upbringing and were sent to live on a farm in Wheeler, Indiana, for months at a time. Though he was loved by “Aunt Frieda” (no relation) he never understood why he had been sent there and in later life came increasingly to resent this. His early education took place on the farm, in the school house near the farm, and in his father’s pharmacy. Because the family moved around, he moved between schools, several times skipping a grade, until he found himself in Hyde Park High School in Chicago. There he specialized in the humanities, including journalism, but encountered Beulah Shoesmith, a mathematics teacher with a formidable reputation and many distinguished pupils to her credit, whose importance to his intellectual development became clear once he turned to mathematics at university....

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