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Tag: herbert hoover

Hoover Library: Honoring Iowa’s only President

October is American Archives Month! We’re celebrating the work of archivists and the importance of archives with a series of blog posts about the Presidential libraries. The records created by Presidents while in office will become part of the National Archives, and eventually will be used by researchers. Here’s how it happens! 

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, ca. 1970. National Archives Identifier: 23856239)

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, ca. 1970. (National Archives Identifier: 23856239)

Herbert Hoover opened his Presidential library on August 10, 1962, nearly 30 years after he left the Presidency.

This was the National Archives’ fourth Presidential library.

The three preceding libraries belonged to his three successors. This was because at the time Hoover was President, there were no laws or guidance governing Presidential records.

Hoover originally planned for all his papers to go the Hoover Institution on the campus of Stanford University, his alma mater. However, in the late 1950s Hoover’s relationship with Stanford became strained.

In 1958, Hoover’s friends began to raise funds for a small museum in his birthplace—West Branch, Iowa.

As his conflict with Stanford worsened, Hoover decided to take advantage of the recently passed Presidential Libraries act and donate his personal and Presidential papers to the National Archives. He expanded the museum in West Branch into a larger archival and research facility.

His papers related to his relief work remained at the Hoover Institution.

Former Presidents Harry S. Truman and Herbert Hoover move through the crowds of people attending the dedication of the new Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, IA, August 10, 1962. Harry S. Truman Library & Museum, National Archives.)

Former Presidents Harry S.

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An inaugural blunder

Today’s post is from David Steinbach, intern in the National Archives History Office.

Chief Justice William H. Taft administering the oath of office to Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929. (Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum)

Chief Justice William H. Taft administering the oath of office to Herbert Hoover, March 4, 1929. (Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum)

William Howard Taft had unusually extensive experience with the Presidential oath of office. In 1909, Taft recited the text on the steps of the Capitol to become the 27th President of the United States.

Sixteen years later, as Chief Justice of the United States, Taft stood on the other side of the Bible and administered Calvin Coolidge’s swearing in.

By the time of Herbert Hoover’s inauguration ceremony in 1929, Taft should have mastered the oath. But the Chief Justice blundered nonetheless, substituting erroneously the phrase “preserve, maintain, and defend” for the traditional “preserve, protect, and defend.”

Letter from Chief Justice William Howard Taft to President Herbert Hoover Regarding the Oath of Office, 03/01/1929. (National Archives Identifier 7722952)

Letter from Chief Justice William Howard Taft to President Herbert Hoover Regarding the Oath of Office, 03/01/1929. (National Archives Identifier

Taft could not blame lack of preparation. In the exhibit “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures” currently open at the National Archives in Washington, DC, we see a particularly interesting letter from the Chief Justice to incoming President Hoover. The communication is dated March 1, 1929—three days before the inauguration. Taft described in great detail where the two men would stand, what text that he would recite, what Hoover’s response should be, … [ Read all ]

Archives Spotlight: Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

Happy American Archives Month! Throughout October, we’re running a series of “spotlights” on the many locations that make up the National Archives. You can visit the exhibits or use the research rooms.

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa, has an unusual location. It is within the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, a 187-acre park administered by the National Park Service. The location is meant to preserve the wildlife and nature in the site and the Quaker community in which Hoover grew up.

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch, Iowa.

Permanent exhibitions are organized chronologically in a series of galleries that showcase Hoover’s fascinating life and accomplishments. They flow from Hoover’s orphaned boyhood and youth in Iowa, to his success as a global businessman, to his humanitarian efforts during World War I. There is a section that discusses the enormous cultural and technological changes in the Roaring Twenties, which then moves into Hoover’s time as Secretary of Commerce in the same decade, his Presidential campaign and election, his role in the Great Depression, and his post-Presidential life and work. There is also a gallery dedicated to Lou Henry Hoover and her role as First Lady.

Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover on the deck of their cabin at Camp Rapidan, Virginia. August 2, 1930. Herbert Hoover Library.

In … [ Read all ]

History Crush: Lou Henry Hoover

Lou Henry posing on a burro at Acton, California, 8/22/1891 (Hoover Presidential Library, 1891-5)

It’s the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, and thousands of girls and young women have descended on Washington, DC, for the Girl Scout Rock the Mall event this weekend. It seems like the perfect time confess my own history crush, a woman who was very involved in the Girl Scouts: Lou Henry Hoover.

Actually, I am not the only person here at the National Archives with a history crush on Lou Henry Hoover. Mention this First Lady’s name at a meeting, and female staff members are practically swooning. Here at the National Archives, Lou Henry Hoover is cool.

What inspires such awe?

Lou Henry Hoover was a scientist, polyglot, author, Girl Scout supporter, and world traveler. She mixed  smarts, practicality, and adventure. Apparently Herbert Hoover was charmed “by her whimsical mind, her blue eyes and a broad grinnish smile.”

I actually knew little about her until I started working here and saw a photograph of her in the lab at Stanford University. My coworker was delighted to tell me about Lou, the first woman in Stanford’s geology department.

Rocks may not seem like the setting for romance, but the geology department is where Herbert Hoover met Lou Henry—he was a senior and she was a freshman at the still-new Stanford University. When Hoover finished his degree and … [ Read all ]

What’s Cooking Wednesday: Flour Sack Art

A flour sack from the collection of the Hoover Presidential Library

One of the themes throughout our “What’s Cooking Wednesday” posts has been war and food rationing. American citizens were asked to grow their own food, ration sugar, and eat less meat so that there would be more supplies for soldiers fighting overseas and for people with little food left in their war-torn country.

As a result, the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library has one of the largest collections of flour sacks in the world.

But these are no ordinary flour sacks. These cotton bags have been stenciled, embroidered, painted, and remade. They were  turned into pillows, clothing, and accessories to be sold in England and the United States to raise funds for food relief and to help prisoners of war. They have been decorated with red, yellow, and black for Belgium as well as red, white, and blue for the United States. Lions, eagles, symbols of peace, and Belgian lace decorate the humble cotton from American mills.

Why did hungry Belgium citizens decorate empty flour sacks?

During World War I, Herbert Hoover was chairman of the Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB). Through donated money and voluntary contributions of food, this commission fed over 11,000 Belgiums. Between 1914 and 1919, about 697,116,000 pounds of flour was shipped to Belgium.

A soldier buying a souvenir flour sack in a

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