Lou Henry Hoover, First Lady

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Lou Henry Hoover (Henry)

Birthdate: (69)
Birthplace: Waterloo, Blackhawk, IA
Death: January 7, 1944 (69)
New York City, Kings ,NY
Place of Burial: Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch, Cedar Co., Iowa
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Charles Delano Henry and Florence Ida Weed
Wife of Herbert C. Hoover, 31st President of the USA
Mother of Herbert Charles Hoover, Jr. and Allen Henry Hoover

Occupation: First Lady of the United States 1929-1933
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Lou Henry Hoover, First Lady


Louise Henry Hoover (March 29, 1874 – January 7, 1944), known as Lou Henry Hoover, was the wife of Herbert Hoover and First Lady of the United States.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Delano Henry, a banker, and his wife Florence Ida Weed, "Lou" grew up something of a tomboy in Waterloo, and in Whittier, California and Monterey, California.[1] Charles Henry took his daughter on camping trips in the hills—her greatest pleasures in her early teens. Lou became a fine horsewoman; she hunted, and preserved specimens with the skill of a taxidermist; she developed an enthusiasm for rocks, minerals, and mining. She attended San Jose Normal School and in 1894 enrolled at Stanford University as the school's only female geology major. That year she met Herbert Hoover, then a senior.

By the time he graduated the following June, they had reached an understanding but put off wedding plans while she continued her education and he pursued his engineering career in Australia. From there in 1898, the year she graduated from Stanford, Hoover cabled a marriage proposal, which she promptly accepted by return wire. Although raised an Episcopalian, Miss Henry decided to become a Quaker. But because there was no Quaker meeting in Monterey, they were married in a civil ceremony performed by Father Ramon Mestres, a Roman Catholic priest of the San Carlos Borromeo Mission.

Both Herbert Hoover and Lou Henry were aged 24 when they married on February 10, 1899, at the home of the bride's parents in Monterey, California. Soon after the wedding they sailed for Tientsin, China, and Hoover's new job. She was present with her husband during the Boxer Rebellion. Possessed of a natural ear for languages, Mrs. Hoover became quite proficient in Chinese. In the White House, the Hoovers at times conversed in Chinese to foil eavesdroppers. She is the only First Lady to date to speak an Asian language.

The Hoovers had two sons:

Herbert Charles Hoover, Jr. (1903–1969) - engineer, diplomat. Born in London, he by age two had been around the world twice with his globe-trotting parents. He graduated from Stanford University in 1925 and began working as an aircraft engineer. He taught briefly, 1928–1929, at the Harvard Business School. Eventually he turned to geophysical engineering, founded the United Geophysical Company in 1935 and developing new electronic instruments to discover oil. During 1953-1954 he mediated the oil dispute between Britain and Iran that provided for the latter to nationalize its petroleum. He was appointed under-secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs 1954-1957 by President Eisenhower. He died in Pasadena, CA.

Allan Henry Hoover (1907–1993) - mining engineer. Born in London, he graduated in economics from Stanford University in 1929 and earned a master's degree from the Harvard Business School in 1931. He went into banking and operated a ranch in California for a time, but eventually he, too, became a mining engineer. A private man, he shunned publicity throughout his career. He died in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Mrs. Hoover was also well versed in Latin; she collaborated with her husband in translating Agricola's De Re Metallica, a 16th century encyclopedia of mining and metallurgy. The Hoover translation was published in 1912, and is still in print as the standard English translation.

During World War I, she assisted her husband in providing relief for Belgian refugees. For her work she was decorated in 1919 by King Albert I of Belgium. While Hoover served in the cabinet of Presidents Harding and Coolidge, she was active as national president of the Girl Scouts of the USA. Camp Lou Henry Hoover in Middleville, New Jersey, is named for her and run by the Heart of New Jersey Council of the Girl Scouts. The Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House in Palo Alto's foothills is now the official residence of the President of Stanford University. It is located near the campus's Hoover Tower, home of the Hoover Institution, and is designated a National Historic Landmark. Lou Henry Hoover Elementary School in Whittier was built in 1938 and was named in her honor. In 2005, Lou Henry Elementary School was opened in her honor in Waterloo. One of the brick dorms known now as "The Classics" at San Jose State University is named "Hoover Hall" in her honor. She funded the construction of the first Girl Scout house in Palo Alto, California. It is called Lou Henry Hoover Girl Scout House.[2] It is the oldest Girl Scout House in continuous use in the country.

As First Lady, she discontinued the New Year's Day reception, the annual open house observance begun by Mrs. John Adams in 1801.

Mrs. Hoover died of a heart attack in New York City on January 7, 1944. She was buried in Palo Alto, California, and later reinterred at West Branch, Iowa, next to the president, following his death in 1964.

Lou Henry was born in Waterloo, Iowa, March 29, 1874. Her father, Charles Henry had wanted a boy, but after Lou was born he decided that girls could do anything that boys could do.

He took Lou fishing and canoeing on the Red Cedar River near Waterloo. On camping trips he taught her all about the outdoors. At the same time, her mother Florence taught her how to sew and do household chores.

In 1887, Charles Henry moved his family to Whittier, California where he opened a bank. The new settlement, mostly Quakers, was less than a year old, with a population of about 100 people.

In school, Lou was very outgoing, and a good organizer. She loved to read and became president of a girls Literary Club.

Lou graduated from San Jose Normal School in 1894.

Although Lou had studied to be a teacher, she changed her mind after attending a lecture by a famous Geologist, Professor J. C. Branner. What the professor had to say struck a cord deep inside Lou. After his speech, Lou asked about the study of geology for women. With the professor's encouragement Lou enrolled in the Department of Geology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Cal. Here she meet Herbert Hoover, a senior assistant to Dr. Branner. They became good friends and found they had much in common. They were both of the Quaker faith. They had been born in Iowa in the same year. They had both moved west at the same time, and they both loved the outdoors!

Lou's geology class was all boys except for her. Once the students went on a field trip. They came to a fence and Bert took her hand to help her over, instead, Lou hiked up her skirts and jumped over! After this, their interest in rocks and each other grew. Lou finished her degree in 1898, while Bert had been sent to western Australia by the British mining company, Bewick, Moreing and Company.

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Lou Henry Hoover, First Lady's Timeline

March 29, 1874
Waterloo, Blackhawk, IA
Age 19
Palo Alto, California, United States
August 4, 1903
Age 29
London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom
July 17, 1907
Age 33
London, Middlesex, England
Age 35
Lincoln Ward 5, Lancaster, Nebraska
Age 45
Stanford, Santa Clara, California
January 1, 1925
Age 50
Age 55
Washington, Washington, District of Columbia