An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

An Independent Woman: The Life of Lou Henry Hoover

Synopsis

A woman of intelligence and energy, Lou Henry Hoover's talents benefited a large number of cultural and philanthropic organizations, but her distaste for publicity obscured her many achievements until now. By the time her husband reached the White House in 1929, she had already established herself as a woman with high goals. The first woman to earn a university degree in geology, she collaborated with her husband in the translation of a classic book on mining methods. During World War I, she organized assistance for American travelers stranded in Europe, campaigned on behalf of the Commission for the Relief of Belgium, and set up a boarding house in Washington D.C. for young women working in war-related agencies.

Excerpt

Waterloo, Iowa, was barely twenty years old when Lou Henry let out her first squall in an upstairs bedroom at 426 West Fourth Street on Sunday, March 29, 1874. A plump, healthy baby, weighing in at just over seven pounds, with bright blue eyes and light brown hair, Lou was the first child of Charles Henry and Florence Weed. Her parents had come to Iowa, separately, only a few years before from the town of Wooster, Ohio, where they had grown up and moved in the same social circles.

Charles' grandfather, William Henry, came to America from Ireland at the age of three. He grew up in Pennsylvania, studied law, married, and in 1807 moved to Ohio, where he helped to found the town of Wooster in Wayne County. He served from 1814 to 1816 in the Ohio legislature, and then was elected associate judge of Stark County. His son and namesake, William Henry, was born in 1818 in Wooster. In 1844 the younger William married Mary Ann Dwire, a tall, slender, self-assured seventeen-year-old schoolteacher with dark hair and eyes, who had boarded with Judge Henry's family. William and Mary Ann had three sons: Charles Delano Henry, born in 1845, William Dwire Henry in 1847, and Addison Morgan Henry in 1848.

Mary Ann's strength of character would be tested all too soon. Her husband had owned a hardware shop in Wooster, but in the 1850s he became superintendent of Ohio Bitumen Coal in Massillon. Because Massillon, located on the Ohio Canal, was subject to epidemics of malaria, William Henry left his family in Wooster and commuted weekly to work by train. Returning home one afternoon in 1856, he fell between two cars and was crushed to death. He was thirty-eight years old.

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