Did Obama’s Mother Live Here?

There’s an absolutely outstanding article posted by journalist Monica Guzman in the January 14, 2009 edition of the Seattleobamaresidenceseattle P-I blog. It’s known that President-elect Obama’s mother lived in the Seattle area for a short time between 1961 and 1962. So it’s logical that she might show up in a city directory, right? Monica set out to research the subject, using the same techniques any good genealogist might use. The resulting article is fascinating.

Following is just a teaser:

In the 1961-1962 Polk Directory, a commercial index of people and businesses in Seattle, there is a listing for a student named “Anna Obama,” a woman who just might have been our next president’s mother.

According to a Seattle Times article published last year, Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, twice lived in the Emerald City. First in her youth, as a student at Mercer Island High School. Then later as a single mother, when she enrolled for a spring semester at the University of Washington. We know she lived for a short time in an apartment on Capitol Hill by 1962 — but not much has been published about where.

Enter the Polk Directory. Assuming the woman listed there really was Obama’s mother, it would appear that she — and quite possibly her infant son — lived in a building then located at 516 13th Ave. E.

One detail puts that assumption in doubt. Obama’s mother’s name was Stanley Ann Dunham — Stanley Ann Obama after she married Obama’s father. Yet the index lists an “Anna.” It is possible this was another woman, archival experts said. But typos were not unheard of in the Polk directories, archival experts told me. Besides, the Polk Directory is not a legal document; those listed did not have to give their official name.

What’s more: No other Obamas appear in the 1961-1962 directory, and a peek through the surrounding 1960 and 1963 editions of the index turn up no one by that name. That suggests that the appearance of “Anna Obama” in Seattle, whoever she was, at least fits the biography of Stanley Ann Dunham.

Read the full article in the February 15, 2009 edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog. Don’t waste your time on the comments. It makes the majority of Seattle folks look like they are all missing half a deck – and I know for a fact that is not true. But you should not miss the article.

I sure hope that the P-I survives. It’s been in Seattle for what seems like forever, but I see that the Hearst Corporation plans to either sell the paper – or shut the doors. As a former resident of Washington State, I think that’s a shame. But newspapers are in tough times – in an economy that doesn’t help.

Update: Check out the January 23, 2009 edition of the Seattle Times, where you will find another article titled “Obama’s Seattle Home?”