Lou Henry Hoover
March 29, 1874, in Waterloo, Iowa
January 7, 1944, in New York, New York
Lou Hoover served as first lady during her husband Herbert Hoover’s single term in the years 1929-1933. Lou was 54 years old when she became first lady.
Lou dedicated her life to adventure and public service. Growing up she was often found outdoors––camping, riding horses, hunting, and collecting rocks. Her fascination with rocks led her to study geology at Stanford University, where she met her husband. Though Lou was the very first woman to graduate with a geology degree from Stanford, she married Hoover soon after her graduation and spent the ensuing years accompanying him around the world on business for his mining company and also raising their two sons. Their travels enabled her to learn Chinese, and she worked for several years with her husband to translate a historic document about metallurgy.
Lou also devoted many hours to supporting the Girl Scouts of America. She served as not only a troop leader, but also national president. As first lady, Lou invited many Girl Scouts to visit the White House. Lou also helped protect the history of White House furnishings by creating a catalog of significant pieces and also restoring Lincoln’s study for her husband’s use. Lou advocated for women’s and civil rights and often addressed the nation about such issues on the radio. She was in fact the first first lady to use the radio to speak to the public.
Lou noted about the value of Girl Scouting, “I was a Scout years ago, before the movement ever started, when my father took me fishing, camping, and hunting. I was sorry that more girls could not have what I had. When I learned of the movement, I thought: Here is what I always wanted other girls to have.”
Lou was a strong advocate of universal suffrage and once commented about the need for all women to exploit their right to vote, “Bad men are elected by good women who stay at home from the polls on Election Day.”