Lou Henry Hoover was born in Waterloo, Iowa on March 29, 1874 to an average home. Lou grew up something of a tomboy in Waterloo. Charles Henry took his daughter on camping trips in the hills—her greatest pleasures in her early teens. Lou became a fine horsewoman and she developed an enthusiasm for rocks, minerals, and mining.
She attended San Jose Normal School (now San Jose State University). But in 1894 and she enrolled—as the school’s only female geology major—at Stanford University, where she met Herbert Hoover. On February 10, 1899, Lou Henry married Herbert Hoover in California. They were both 24 and had both finished their schooling entirely. Herbert Hoover’s job required them to move to China for a time and while there they witnessed the Boxer Rebellion and Lou and Herbert both became very proficient in Chinese. 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 metallurgy and mining. The Hoover translation was published in 1912, and remains in print today as the standard English translation.
When Lou Henry Hoover became first Lady in 1929, she provided the nation with an array of firsts for the First Ladyship. She was the first and only First Lady to speak an Asian language and was the first First Lady to broadcast on a regular basis as a guest speaker. Lou Henry Hoover also provided the basis for the Camp David retreat for the Presidents whenever they needed it. She also removed the New Year’s Day reception in the White House that was established since 1801. She served as the national president of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 1922 to 1925 while Hoover served in the cabinet of Presidents Calvin Coolidge and Warren G. Harding. She served as president again after leaving the White House for a few years. 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 center and is designated a National Historic Landmark. The Lou Henry Elementary was founded in Mrs Hoover’s honor in Waterloo, Iowa in 2005. 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. The oldest Girl Scout house in continuous use, it was called Lou Henry Hoover Girl Scout House.
Lou Henry Hoover died of a heart attack in New York City on January 7, 1944 and predeceased Herbert Hoover by 20 years.