|West Branch, IA||August 21, 2004|
Lou Hoover was no stranger to being first. The first child produced by her parents’ relationship, two decades later she was the first woman to earn a degree in geology from Stanford University. When her husband, Herbert, was elected commander-in-chief, Lou Hoover became the first lady in the land. Her final firsts came after her death in 1944: Hoover was the first presidential spouse to be buried in California, and then the first laid to rest in Iowa upon her exhumation and relocation in 1964.
The Hoovers are interred atop a hill in West Branch, Iowa, on the grounds of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. The location, which was chosen by their son Allan, overlooks the 31st chief executive’s two-room birth cottage. A wayside from the National Park Service elucidates that “Iowa architect William Wagner designed the memorial in collaboration with the Hoover family and William Anderson of the Hoover Birthplace Society.” The inspiration behind the unornamented gravestones was “Quaker simplicity.” Both Lou and Herbert Hoover were practicing Quakers.
Although my father journeyed with me to every presidential grave, he did not pose for a photograph at each site. Why did he ask me to take his picture with the Hoovers but not at the illustrious Lincoln tomb, which we saw the previous day? It is a mystery to me.
“That we have the vote means nothing. That we use it in the right way means everything. Our political work has only begun when we have the ballot. And that work should be carried out exactly as our college work is – as any good work which we undertake is – it must be thoughtful, idealistic, clean, effective.”
- Lou Hoover
April 10, 1920 at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, subsequent to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Sources Consulted and Further Reading
Danielson, Elena S. “Lou Henry Hoover, Stanford class of 1898, and women’s right to vote in 1920.” Stanford Historical Society. Accessed April 22, 2022. https://historicalsociety.stanford.edu/lou-henry-hoover-stanford-class-1898-and-women-s-right-vote-1920.
Schaefer, Matthew. “Lou Hoover Adding Bricks to the Foundation of League of Women Voters.” Hoover Heads (blog). National Archives. August 5, 2020. https://hoover.blogs.archives.gov/2020/08/05/lou-hoover-adding-bricks-to-the-foundation-of-league-of-women-voters/.