An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

By Anne Beiser Allen; Jon L. Wakelyn | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
War and Relief Work

The events of August 1914 drastically altered Lou Hoover's life. Since her marriage, she had been -- perhaps unconsciously -- searching for a way to use her education and skills in a way that would be productive and self-satisfying. She had taken a close interest in her husband's work, visiting mines with him, discussing the intricacies of mine financing and development with him and his colleagues. She had written several articles for publication. Her work on De Re Metallica had been recognized as a significant contribution by the international engineering community. Following the expectations of her culture, she was also successfully fulfilling her role as wife and mother. Wherever they made even a temporary residence, she insisted that her family should live in a house, surrounded by familiar furnishings and routines. She took considerable trouble to make her home a refuge for her husband, where he and his colleagues could be comfortable. And she took a deep interest in everything her sons did, encouraging them to follow their own interests while instilling in them a strong sense of morality.

But there was still something missing.

After her husband's election to the presidency, a reporter quoted Lou as saying that while she had earned a degree in geology in college, she had been majoring in Herbert Hoover ever since.1 Certainly for the first fifteen years of their marriage this was true. But as she followed his lead into the world of humanitarian activity in the first years of World War I, Lou discovered that she possessed a considerable organizational ability of her own. The next two decades would give her the opportunity to develop this side of her personality, to the considerable benefit of those organizations with whom she chose to work.

-61-

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