Lou Henry Hoover

Born: 29 Mar 1874, Waterloo, IA
Died: 7 Jan 1944, New York, NY

First Lady

Common Ancestor:
Thomas Kimberly
10th Gr Grandfather
of Merle G Ladd
6th Gr Grandfather
of Lou Henry
Mary Kimberly Abraham Kimberly
Mary Hayes Abraham Kimberly
John Bouton Fitch Kimberly
Eunice Bouton Wolaston Kimberly
John Fancher Abigail Kimberly
Squire Fancher Phineas Weed
Ira Fancher Florence Ida Weed
Lucilla Fancher Lou Henry
Douglas C Ladd  
Irving L Ladd  
Allen D Ladd  
Merle G Ladd  
Relationship to Merle G Ladd:
7th Cousin, 4 Times Removed
Lou Henry was born in Waterloo, Iowa. She grew up in Iowa until she was 10 years old, when her father, Charles D. Henry, decided that the climate of southern California would favor the health of his wife, Florence. The family moved to Whittier, California.

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. After studying at two normal schools in California, first at the Los Angeles Normal School (now University of California, Los Angeles), then transferring to and graduating with a teaching certificate from the San Jose Normal School (now San Josť State University), she entered Stanford in 1894 and completed her course (becoming the first woman in Stanford's geology department) before marrying Herbert Hoover. They were married in a civil ceremony at her parents home in Monterey on February 10, 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, and Europe—while her talent for homemaking eased their time in a dozen foreign lands. The Hoovers had two sons, Herbert Charles (August 4, 1903 - July 9, 1969) and Allan Henry (July 17, 1907 - November 8, 1993).

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, California, which she had helped design. In 1921, however, Hoover's appointment as United States 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 of the United States 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 White House.

Mrs. Hoover paid with her own money the cost of reproducing furniture owned by James Monroe for a period sitting room in the White House. She also restored Abraham 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.

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, at 69 (almost 3 months before her 70th birthday); 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."