PictureYoung Herbert Hoover
In 1895, Hoover graduated from Stanford University with a degree in geology. He and his classmates were the first class to graduate from the newly formed school. After graduation, Hoover took a job with Bewick, Moreing & Company, a mining company based in Australia. 

When World War I began in 1914, Hoover left the mining business and began working with the relief efforts in various European countries to aid war victims. When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, Hoover was appointed head of the U.S. Food Administration. Through creative marketing, he was able to reduce the amount of meat and wheat that was being eaten by the American public so it could be sent overseas to the soldiers. 

When President Harding was elected in 1921, he appointed Hoover Secretary of Commerce. In 1927, President Coolidge announced that he would not be seeking re-election, and party leaders began to look to Hoover as the leading Republican candidate. Thanks to his already strong reputation across the country, Hoover easily won the election. On November 6, 1928, Herbert Hoover became president, receiving 58% of the popular vote and 444 electoral votes.  

"Who But Hoover" - 1928 Campaign Slogan
Picture31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover
When the stock market crashed in October of 1929, President Hoover took the first in what would become a never ending series of steps in an effort set the economy right. He called factories and businesses to advocate against layoffs and wage cuts, and started several public works projects to employ some of those who had been laid off. It was thanks to these efforts that Hoover Dam was constructed.

He fought for laws that would keep workers safe and income at a livable level. As a last ditch effort before leaving office, the Hoover Administration crafted the Emergency Relief and Construction Act. The bill allowed more money for public works projects and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, an institution that provided government backed loans to banks, farmers and railroad companies.

In addition to these relief efforts, Hoover also called for an in-depth investigation into the workings of the stock exchange, to ensure nothing like this ever happened again. Many of the programs Hoover started laid the groundwork and provided the inspiration for Roosevelt’s New Deal a few years later.

PictureBlowing Soil of Drought-Stricken Great Plains
Just eight months after President Hoover entered office, the American economy saw a downturn like nothing else ever experienced. Beginning with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929, the economy spiraled downward rapidly. Though Hoover tried many different tactics to improve the economy and quality of life for American citizens, none of them were effective enough to enact long-lasting change.                             

The President was against submitting budgets that were unbalanced, and he was unwilling to raise the country’s deficit to fund welfare programs, so despite public outcry for more federal assistance, little was given. Shanty towns called “Hoovervilles” began to sprout up across the country, with thousands of Americans losing their homes each year.

To make matters worse, the 1930s also brought an extreme drought to the Midwest, which made farming nearly impossible. Fields lay empty and the soil dried out rapidly, effectively creating a dust bowl in the middle of the country. Thousands of people were forced to relocate as their farms became less and less profitable. President Hoover did little to aid these people, and his public approval fell rapidly across the country.

PictureFirst Lady, Lou Hoover
Lou Henry Hoover was born on March 29, 1874, in Waterloo, Iowa. As a child and teenager, she enjoyed camping and traveling with her father, who taught her to ride horses and hunt. In 1894, she enrolled at Stanford University as a geology major, where she met Herbert Hoover. She remained at Stanford when Hoover graduated to finish her degree, and graduated in 1898. On February 10, 1899, the two were married at her parent’s house in Monterey, California. The day after their marriage, the couple set sail for China, where they lived for several years.

When they, along with their two sons, moved back to the United States, Lou became involved with the Girl Scouts of America, serving as president of the organization from 1922 to 1925, and again after she left the White House from 1935 to 1937. As First Lady, Lou advocated for volunteerism like her husband, and continued her work with the Girl Scouts of America. She was also the first First Lady to be broadcast on the radio on a regular basis, appearing on several radio shows each week.

Herbert Hoover, a Republican from Iowa, was President from 1929-1933. Hoover believed that the government was filled with inefficiency, and he worked to change this during his time in office. He also placed great value on volunteer work and the power of the individual to create change.

PictureHoovers on a Boat in China
When Lou Hoover graduated from Stanford, Herbert was in Australia working the mines. Around the time of her graduation, Hoover was offered a promotion that would relocate him to China. That very day, he sent Lou a telegram asking for her hand in marriage. She wired back her acceptance almost immediately. While the two were living in China, they learned to speak Chinese, and they frequently conversed in Chinese rather than English while living in the White House.

By Lena Tomaszek,
Museum Intern, University Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2014 exhibit on U.S. Presidents Between the World Wars. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->