Iowa’s Two First Ladies of the United States: A Look Back [PHOTOS]
Since George Washington became President of the United States in 1789, only 53 women have held the role of First Lady. Only two of them have been Iowa natives. Amazingly, they both served the nation in a 30-year period.
The first Iowa-born woman to serve as First Lady was Lou Henry Hoover. In the March 1929 photo above, she's being greeted by a brass band.
Hoover was born in Waterloo, Iowa on March 29, 1874. Due to the poor health of Lou's mom, Florence Henry, the family moved to the warmth of California a decade later.
According to White House History, Lou Henry met Herbert Hoover in 1894, when she was a first-year student at Leland Stanford Junior University. She met her future husband, a senior, in a geology lab. Herbert Hoover would later say he was smitten with her "whimsical mind, her blue eyes and a broad grinnish smile."
Lou Henry added Hoover to her name when she married the future president Herbert Hoover, who was born in West Branch, Iowa, in 1899.
In the 1920s, Lou Hoover served as president of the Girl Scouts of the United States for the first time. In the 1925 photo below, she's shown in her Girl Scout uniform.
Hoover would serve as Girl Scout president again in the 1930s. During that time, the plan was approved to bake and sell cookies in support of the girl scouts.
*Thank you to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum-Library in West Branch for providing many of the photos of Lou Henry Hoover for this story.
Lou Henry Hoover was vice president of the National Amateur Athletic Federation in the 1920s. She challenged the organization to develop a women's division.
When Herbert Hoover began serving as the 31st president in 1929, Lou became the First Lady. She was the first First Lady to go on the radio. In the 1931 photo below, she prepares for a radio broadcast about the girl scouts.
Also in 1931, the family posed in front of the National Christmas Tree.
Lou Hoover used her own money to pay for the refurbishing of furniture owned by the 5th president, James Monroe. In the 1931 picture below, she sits at Monroe's desk.
In 1932, she helped the Red Cross in the production of free clothing for the unemployed.
And gave Christmas presents to the poor at the Central Union Mission.
In April of 1932, Mrs. Hoover posed for a photo in a cotton dress, in the hopes of starting a cotton fad in the United States, according to the Herbert Hoover Presidential Museum-Library.
Lou Henry Hoover "suffered an acute heart attack from which she did not recover," on January 7, 1944. She was 69. Hoover is buried next to her husband in West Branch.
A commemorative sculpture garden in Waterloo honors Lou Hoover. It's located near downtown. This sculpture was installed in 2016:
The other future First Lady born in Iowa was Mamie Geneva Doud. She was born on November 14, 1896, in Boone.
According to the Des Moines Register, Doud was just three months old when her family moved to Cedar Rapids. She attended Jackson Elementary School until she was six, when her family moved to Colorado.
In 1915, Doud met a second lieutenant named Dwight D. Eisenhower. According to the White House, he fell for Doud immediately. Eisenhower described Doud as "a vivacious and attractive girl, smaller than average, saucy in the look about her face and in her whole attitude." Doud was 19 when they married on July 1, 1916. The two would be together 52 years, until his death in 1969.
You can still see their love for one another in this 1957 photo, with Eisenhower, who was then President of the United States, in his General's uniform:
Mamie was by her husband's side in 1945 when General Eisenhower received the Distinguished Service Medal from President Truman.
Eisenhower would receive a fifth Distinguished Service Medal, again from President Truman, in 1952. Eisenhower would succeed Truman as President of the United States the following year.
Here's the growing family before the 1952 election.
In Chicago in August of 1952, for the Republican Party convention:
Eisenhower's presidency ended in 1961. The two shared big smiles in London in August of 1962.
A week later, they were again photographed in London, this time with their grandchildren Dwight David and Barbara Anne Eisenhower:
Mamie Eisenhower passed away on November 1, 1979, at the age of 82. She's buried with her husband at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.
The Mamie Eisenhower Birthplace (photo near the middle of this story) is located at 709 Carroll Street in Boone.