Lou Henry Hoover was the wife of President Herbert Hoover and First Lady of the U.S. from 1929 to 1933. An independent woman ahead of her time, Hoover contributed unselfishly to a wide range of philanthropic work and scholarly pursuits throughout her life. An avid Chinese linguist and geology scholar, she traveled widely and made extensive study of languages, including Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, German, Italian, and French. She was also an advocate of volunteerism, devoting many hours and much energy to the Girl Scout movement in America. Hoover was a troop leader, a member of the Girl Scout Council in Washington, and twice served as the National President. It was during her second presidential term that the Girl Scouts approved a national plan to bake and sell cookies in support of scouting. In honor of her years of public service, Hoover has been granted numerous awards, including an honorary doctorate from Whittier College. At least two elementary schools are named after her.
In 1894, Hoover entered Stanford University. An avid athlete, she was a member of the Basket Ball Committee, Vice President of the Women's Athletic Association, and an active member of the Archery Club. At Stanford, Hoover was also the school’s first female geology student. On top of that, it was during one of her first geology labs that she met her future husband, Herbert Hoover. The only issue was that he was a senior, and she was a freshman. So, the couple waited until she graduated in 1898 with a Bachelor of Arts in geology to get engaged and begin their history-making career together.
The Stanford power couple would retain a strong affection for their alma mater, maintaining residences on the campus despite travels and lengthy residences on several continents. Additionally, while her husband was focused on politics, Hoover designed what would later be called the "Lou Henry and Herbert Hoover House," which was built on the Stanford University campus. In 1944, after Lou's death, her husband deeded the house to Stanford University to serve as a home for university professors, and today, it is considered a National Historic Landmark. More recently, university leaders announced that the Hoover Tower Observation Deck and Carillon were going to be renamed in memory of Lou Henry Hoover. The 2021 ceremony featured opening remarks by Hoover Institution Director Condoleezza Rice. “When those carillon bells chime again at the top of the tower, we can fondly remember [Lou Henry Hoover’s] service to the nation and resolve to follow in her path by providing comfort to people afflicted by conflict throughout the world and in answering the bell’s noble call for peace," Rice said.