Cardinal Roots

The Hoovers & Stanford University

Equality of opportunity and access to education were core beliefs held by the Hoovers throughout their lives. Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover appreciated and lived Leland Stanford’s philosophy that education was “training for usefulness in life.” To be useful to others became a directive for their own lives, as well as foundational to their vision for a free society and a peaceful world. The Hoovers applied this conviction to the many institutions and organizations they led or supported, such as the Girl Scouts of America, the Boys Clubs of America, the Belgian American Educational Foundation, and Stanford University. Less well known are their remarkable private philanthropic efforts establishing a school in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where none had existed before, known as the President’s Mountain School.

Photograph of Lou Henry Hoover, students and teacher, Christine Vest, on the steps of the President's Mountain School. From the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Lou Henry Hoover, students, and teacher, Christine Vest, on the steps of the President's Mountain School. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Lou Henry Hoover, students, and teacher, Christine Vest, on the steps of the President's Mountain School. Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.

Stanford Bound

Herbert Hoover

Photograph of Herbert Hoover (bottom left) and the Stanford Surveying Squad, 1893. From the Berton W. Crandall Photographs, at the Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (bottom left) and the Stanford Surveying Squad, 1893. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (bottom left) and the Stanford Surveying Squad, 1893. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Born to a Quaker family and orphaned at age nine, Herbert Hoover left Iowa in November 1885 bound for Oregon and the home of his maternal uncle. At the age of fourteen he left school to work as a clerk in his uncle's real estate business. 

In 1891, without having graduated from high school, the industrious Herbert Hoover found his place in the first class of Stanford University, where he studied geology and mining. It was at Stanford that he made lifelong friends and found a mentor in geology professor John Casper Branner. He flourished in his major, was elected student body treasurer, and even found love with the university’s first female geology student.

Left: Silhouette of Herbert C. Hoover, 1894. Thomas Williams Collection. Right: Herbert Hoover as a Junior at Stanford. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Photograph of At Top: Herbert Hoover's Stanford Transcript. Bottom: Herbert Hoover's Stanford Diploma, 1895. From the Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, at the Hoover Institution Archives

Top: Herbert Hoover's Stanford Transcript. Bottom: Herbert Hoover's Stanford Diploma, 1895. Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, Hoover Institution Archives

Top: Herbert Hoover's Stanford Transcript. Bottom: Herbert Hoover's Stanford Diploma, 1895. Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (back row, fourth from right) with the Stanford football team he managed, 1894. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Two photographs: At Left: Silhouette of Herbert C. Hoover, 1894. From the Thomas Williams Collection. At Right: Herbert Hoover as a Junior at Stanford. From Berton W. Crandall Photographs, at the Hoover Institution Archives

Left: Silhouette of Herbert C. Hoover, 1894. Thomas Williams Collection. Right: Herbert Hoover as a Junior at Stanford. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Left: Silhouette of Herbert C. Hoover, 1894. Thomas Williams Collection. Right: Herbert Hoover as a Junior at Stanford. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (back row, fourth from right) with the Stanford football team he managed, 1894. From the Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (back row, fourth from right) with the Stanford football team he managed, 1894. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (back row, fourth from right) with the Stanford football team he managed, 1894. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Photograph of Herbert Hoover (second from left) and the first graduating class of geologists, with their professor John C. Branner seated center (gray beard), 1894. From the Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (second from left) and the first graduating class of geologists, with their professor John C. Branner seated center (gray beard), 1894. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Photograph of Herbert Hoover (second from left) and the first graduating class of geologists, with their professor John C. Branner seated center (gray beard), 1894. From the Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover (second from left) and the first graduating class of geologists, with their professor John C. Branner seated center (gray beard), 1894. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

A Pioneering Woman

Lou Henry Hoover

Photograph of Lou Henry, age 17, posing with a rifle on a burro for photographer Richard E. Nickel on Aug. 22, 1891, outside his store in Acton, CA. From the National Archives and Records Administration.

Lou Henry, age 17, posing with a rifle on a burro for photographer Richard E. Nickel on Aug. 22, 1891, outside his store in Acton, CA. National Archives and Records Administration.

Lou Henry, age 17, posing with a rifle on a burro for photographer Richard E. Nickel on Aug. 22, 1891, outside his store in Acton, CA. National Archives and Records Administration.

Lou Henry grew up with an interest in the great outdoors and loved camping and horseback riding. She initially pursued a certificate in education, but after hearing a lecture by John Casper Branner, she was inspired to enroll as a student at Stanford, where she majored in geology and graduated in 1898.

Photograph of Lou Henry Hoover (second from left)  in class hat, 1898.  From the Thomas Williams Collection, at the Hoover Institution Archives

Lou Henry Hoover (second from left)  in class hat, 1898. Thomas Williams Collection, Hoover Institution Archives

Lou Henry Hoover (second from left)  in class hat, 1898. Thomas Williams Collection, Hoover Institution Archives

Top: Lou Henry's Stanford Diploma, 1898. Bottom: Stanford Honorary Fellow certificate to Lou Henry Hoover, 1941. Lou Henry Hoover Miscellaneous Papers, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover married in Monterey, California on February 10, 1899, and left the next day for China, where he had secured work as a mining engineer. One of their shared successes together included completing the first English translation of the seminal Latin work, De Re Metallica, which still holds an important place on the shelves of metallurgists and geologists across the world.

Title page of De Re Metallica, Translated from the first Latin edition of 1556 by Georgius Agricola; translated by Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover.  Reprint, 1950. Dover Publications, Inc.

De Re Metallica, Translated from the first Latin edition of 1556 by Georgius Agricola; translated by Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover. Reprint, 1950. Dover Publications, Inc.

De Re Metallica, Translated from the first Latin edition of 1556 by Georgius Agricola; translated by Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover. Reprint, 1950. Dover Publications, Inc.

Photo showing Lou Henry Hoover's Stanford Disploma from 1898 and her Stanford Honorary Fellow's certificate from 1941 from the Lou Henry Hoover Miscellaneous Papers at the Hoover Institution Archives.

Top: Lou Henry's Stanford Diploma, 1898. Bottom: Stanford Honorary Fellow certificate to Lou Henry Hoover, 1941. Lou Henry Hoover Miscellaneous Papers, Hoover Institution Archives

Top: Lou Henry's Stanford Diploma, 1898. Bottom: Stanford Honorary Fellow certificate to Lou Henry Hoover, 1941. Lou Henry Hoover Miscellaneous Papers, Hoover Institution Archives

Photograph of Lou Henry Hoover (seated, center holding apple and pickaxe) and the Stanford Zoology Club,  1898.  Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries.

Lou Henry Hoover (seated, center holding apple and pickaxe) and the Stanford Zoology Club, 1898. Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries.

Photograph of Lou Henry Hoover (seated, center holding apple and pickaxe) and the Stanford Zoology Club,  1898.  Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries.

Lou Henry Hoover (seated, center holding apple and pickaxe) and the Stanford Zoology Club, 1898. Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries.

Stanford Legacy

Herbert Hoover

Photograph of Herbert Hoover Medal for Distinguished Service, 1963. From the Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, at the Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover Medal for Distinguished Service, 1963. Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover Medal for Distinguished Service, 1963. Herbert Hoover Subject Collection, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover—engineer, humanitarian, statesman—was for a great many years Stanford University’s most influential alumnus, trustee, and benefactor.

Joining the board of trustees in 1912, he served for nearly fifty years. Among the institutions he helped found on campus were the Food Research Institute (1921–1996) and the Graduate School of Business. He saved the medical school during times of financial hardship and helped finance what is now the “old” student union.

He devoted the most energy to his creation and namesake, the Hoover Institution, which he founded in 1919. Herbert Hoover's wealth and fame, and his commitment to excellence at Stanford gave him an extraordinary influence at his alma mater, second only to that of its founders, Leland and Jane Stanford.

Herbert Hoover receiving medal for distinguished service from the Stanford Alumni Association, April 4, 1963. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Photo of Herbert Hoover receiving medal for distinguished service from the Stanford Alumni Association, April 4, 1963. From the Berton W. Crandall Photographs at the Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover receiving medal for distinguished service from the Stanford Alumni Association, April 4, 1963. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Herbert Hoover receiving medal for distinguished service from the Stanford Alumni Association, April 4, 1963. Berton W. Crandall Photographs, Hoover Institution Archives

Stanford Home

Lou Henry Hoover

Photograph of Lou Henry Hoover House.  From the Stanford University Libraries.

Lou Henry Hoover House. Stanford University Libraries.

Lou Henry Hoover House. Stanford University Libraries.

In 1919 Lou Henry Hoover set in motion the construction of the Hoovers’ home on the Stanford campus. The family was soon off to Washington, DC, when Herbert Hoover was named secretary of commerce. They returned to Stanford to live only after leaving the White House in 1933.

From that point on, Lou Henry Hoover regularly involved herself in the life of the university, from supporting its libraries and athletics groups to encouraging the creation of a music department and starting the Friends of Stanford Music. In honor of her devotion to the school, she was named an Honorary Fellow in 1941 at Stanford’s fiftieth anniversary commencement, at which she spoke to the graduating class.

After Lou Henry Hoover’s death in 1944, the house was donated to the university. It has ever since been the university president’s home. In 1985 it was declared a National Historic Landmark.

Lou Henry Hoover at Stanford commencement, 1941. Stanford University Libraries.

Photo of Lou Henry Hoover at Stanford commencement, 1941. Courtesy of Stanford University Libraries.

Lou Henry Hoover at Stanford commencement, 1941. Stanford University Libraries.

Lou Henry Hoover at Stanford commencement, 1941. Stanford University Libraries.


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