Did you know that Lou Henry was the first woman to graduate from Stanford with a degree in geology? It was the late 1890s. A degree was one thing. A job was another. She married a classmate who’d been offered a job as a mining engineer and went with him to China. She learned Mandarin and accompanied her husband into the mines as his interpreter. Inclined to view marriage as a partnership and an adventure, she frequently referred to the work as “we” and “us.” When trapped by the boxer rebellion, Lou served as a nurse, delivery person—using a bicycle in the war zone—and interpreter. Active in the fight for women’s rights, she poured herself into public service after returning to the US. When her husband was put in charge of food relief for Belgium in 1914, she helped organize American Women’s War Relief Fund and Hospital, which helped to raise funds, feed, clothe, and find housing for those displaced by the war, speaking all over the country. You may have heard of her husband, Herbert Hoover. Lou Henry Hoover became first lady in 1929 and quickly began making changes in the role, doing away with what she viewed as antiquated social protocols and continuing her life as an activist with Bert’s full approval and encouragement. Why have I never heard of this remarkable woman before? I stumbled on her researching women’s contributions to World War I, an ongoing as expressed in my novel, Christmas Hope.
One thought on “One Tough Lady”
She was an amazing woman. I learned about her when I visited the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch, Iowa. Thank you for this summary of her achievements.