Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 3:00 PM


ALDRICH, Michele L., California Academy of Sciences, 24 Elm Street, Hatfield, MA 01038,

After Lou Henry graduated from Stanford in May 1898, she returned to the family home in Monterey, California to do volunteer work. She married Herbert Hoover on February 10, 1899, and they sailed for China the next day, where he had been assigned by Bewick & Moreing to consult on mines owned by the Chinese emperor. Lou set up the office while Bert took a reconnaissance visit to some of the mines; thereafter, they traveled in the field together, and Lou sometimes went into the mines, to the amazement of the local population. The Hoovers survived the Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China . They moved to London in 1901, where Bert became a senior partner in the firm and eventually established his own business as a mining engineer and mining investor, the basis of their considerable wealth. J. C. Branner had introduced the Hoovers at Stanford to Georgius Agrciola's De Re Metallica (1556); in 1906, Lou visited the British Museum and found no translation of the Latin original into English. She undertook the task, expecting to finish in six months. Lou and Bert did the project together, and it was to take five years. She translated the text, and Bert wrote the annotations (he hired translators for works cited in his notes, as he did not read any language but English, and they employed assistants to help with the appendices). The resulting book, published in 1912 by the Mining Magazine of London, imitated the original with a vellum binding, high quality paper, elegant typesetting, and beautiful woodcut drawings (by facsimile in the Hoover version). Three thousand copies were printed, ensuring wide distribution, and it was favorably reviewed. During her years in London, Lou wrote a short article on the British seismologist John Milne, published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America in 1912. Thereafter, she dedicated herself to public service such as working with the Girl Scouts and serving as First Lady during her husband's presidency (1929-1933). Lou Henry Hoover's geological career presents an interesting contrast to that of Florence Bascom (1862-1945), the first woman in America to become a professional geologist.