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ABOUT THE WHITE HOUSE * FIRST LADIES



OUR FIRST LADIES:
18th Century
about_first_ladies_marthawashington Martha Washington
about_first_ladies_abigailadams Abigail Adams

19th Century
about_first_ladies_marthajefferson Martha Jefferson
about_first_ladies_dolleymadison Dolley Madison
about_first_ladies_elizabethmonroe Elizabeth Monroe
about_first_ladies_louisaadams Louisa Adams
about_first_ladies_racheljackson Rachel Jackson
about_first_ladies_hannahvanburen Hannah Van Buren
about_first_ladies_annaharrison Anna Harrison
about_first_ladies_letitiatyler Letitia Tyler
about_first_ladies_juliatyler Julia Tyler
about_first_ladies_sarahpolk Sarah Polk
about_first_ladies_margarettaylor Margaret Taylor
about_first_ladies_abigailfillmore Abigail Fillmore
about_first_ladies_janepierce Jane Pierce
about_first_ladies_harrietlane Harriet Lane
about_first_ladies_marylincoln Mary Lincoln
about_first_ladies_elizajohnson Eliza Johnson
about_first_ladies_juliagrant Julia Grant
about_first_ladies_lucyhayes Lucy Hayes
about_first_ladies_lucretiagarfield Lucretia Garfield
about_first_ladies_ellenarthur Ellen Arthur
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_carolineharrison Caroline Harrison
about_first_ladies_francescleveland Frances Cleveland
about_first_ladies_idamckinley Ida McKinley


20th Century
about_first_ladies_edithroosevelt Edith Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_helentaft Helen Taft
about_first_ladies_ellenwilson Ellen Wilson
about_first_ladies_edithwilson Edith Wilson
about_first_ladies_florenceharding Florence Harding
about_first_ladies_gracecoolidge Grace Coolidge
about_first_ladies_louhoover Lou Hoover
about_first_ladies_eleanorroosevelt Eleanor Roosevelt
about_first_ladies_besstruman Elizabeth Truman
about_first_ladies_mamieeisenhower Mamie Eisenhower
about_first_ladies_jacquelinekennedy Jacqueline Kennedy
about_first_ladies_ladybirdjohnson Claudia Johnson
about_first_ladies_patnixon Patricia Nixon
about_first_ladies_bettyford Elizabeth Ford
about_first_ladies_rosalynncarter Rosalynn Carter
about_first_ladies_nancyreagan Nancy Reagan
about_first_ladies_barbarabush Barbara Bush
about_first_ladies_hillaryclinton Hillary Clinton

21st Century
about_first_ladies_laurabush Laura Bush
administration_michelle_obama Michelle Obama



LOU HENRY HOOVER
b.1874 -- d.1944

Admirably equipped to preside at the White House, Lou Henry Hoover brought to it long experience as wife of a man eminent in public affairs at home and abroad. She had shared his interests since they met in a geology lab at Leland Stanford University. She was a freshman, he a senior, and he was fascinated, as he declared later, "by her whimsical mind, her blue eyes and a broad grinnish smile."

Born in Iowa, in 1874, she grew up there for ten years. Then her father, Charles D. Henry, decided that the climate of southern California would favor the health of his wife, Florence. He 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 entered Stanford in 1894--"slim and supple as a reed," a classmate recalled, with a "wealth of brown hair"--and completed her course before marrying Herbert Hoover in 1899.

The newlyweds left at once for China, where he won quick recognition as a mining engineer. His career took them about the globe--Ceylon, Burma, Siberia, Australia, Egypt, Japan, Europe--while her talent for homemaking eased their time in a dozen foreign lands. Two sons, Herbert and Allan, were born during this adventurous life, which made their father a youthful millionaire.

During World War I, while Hoover earned world fame administering emergency relief programs, she was often with him but spent some time with the boys in California. In 1919 she saw construction begin for a long-planned home in Palo Alto. In 1921, however, his appointment as Secretary of Commerce took the family to Washington. There she spent eight years busy with the social duties of a Cabinet wife and an active participation in the Girl Scout movement, including service as its president.

The Hoovers moved into the White House in 1929, and the First Lady welcomed visitors with poise and dignity throughout the administration. However, when the first day of 1933 dawned, Mr. and Mrs. Hoover were away on holiday. Their absence ended the New Year's Day tradition of the public being greeted personally by the President at a reception in the Executive Mansion.

Mrs. Hoover paid with her own money the cost of reproducing furniture owned by Monroe for a period sitting room in the White House. She also restored Lincoln's study for her husband's use. She dressed handsomely; she "never fitted more perfectly into the White House picture than in her formal evening gown," remarked one secretary. The Hoovers entertained elegantly, using their own private funds for social events while the country suffered worsening economic depression.

In 1933 they retired to Palo Alto, but maintained an apartment in New York. Mr. Hoover learned the full lavishness of his wife's charities only after her death there on January 7, 1944; she had helped the education, he said, "of a multitude of boys and girls." In retrospect he stated her ideal for the position she had held: "a symbol of everything wholesome in American life."


Click about_presidents_herberthoover here to read the biography of President Herbert C. Hoover.

MD5: 21e1474a8a8bc0a1e9d3bd645c5bc26d
Original URL: http://whitehouse.gov/about/first_ladies/louhoover/

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