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First Lady Lou

Special Performance Highlights Life of First Lady Lou Henry Hoover

This March, we celebrate  the 146th anniversary of the birth of Waterloo, Iowa native Lou Henry Hoover, also known as Mrs. Herbert Hoover.

The Hoover Presidential Library and Museum and Hoover Presidential Foundation will mark these momentous occasions with a series of free public performances throughout Iowa.

The performances celebrate and share the life of Lou Henry Hoover, a remarkable pioneer of her time. Celebrating her during Women’s History Month and on the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage seems like an especially appropriate context to educate and celebrate her many groundbreaking accomplishments. Not only did Mrs. Hoover excel in her role as First Lady, but the Waterloo, Iowa native became the first woman to earn a geology degree from Stanford University. Before becoming First Lady, she led a very active and public life, leading and working in many new movements and organizations, including the early years of the Girl Scouts and helping with food relief efforts during China’s Boxer Rebellion and World War I.

The show features Jane Fellows, an actress who has performed the one-woman show, First Lady Lou  at numerous venues around the United States. Throughout the show, ‘Lou’ takes the audience on the remarkable journey of her life. Set in a New York City hotel room, Act I takes place in 1914, the day before Lou sails to London to join Herbert. Act II takes place in 1944 at the end of her life. Throughout the play the audience experiences history through the eyes of a smart, compassionate and visionary woman.

“Learning about Lou Henry Hoover was an eye-opening experience for me,” Leslie Hoover-Lauble, great granddaughter of Lou Henry Hoover, said. “As a woman born in the late 1800’s, she was anything by typical of her times. She was a woman of many and surprising talents, with a high sense of integrity. I am a proud descendant of Lou Henry, and I thoroughly enjoy First Lady Lou as performed by Jane Fellows.”

Leslie was too young to meet her great-grandmother during her life but feels Jane Fellow’s depiction of Lou Henry gave her the opportunity to meet her after all.

Ms. Fellows first performed First Lady Lou in March 2014 as a commissioned piece by Colonial Dames of America in Oregon and the Hoover-Minthorn House Museum. “Being able to share this part of history through the lens of this extraordinary woman is at once humbling as well as a distinct honor,” Fellows said.

Lou Henry made great efforts to be inclusive while in and out of the White House. As First Lady, Lou Henry coordinated the social functions at the White House, including inviting the wives of the members of Congress to the White House for tea. Mrs. Hoover faced an unusually delicate situation – for the first time in 30 years, Congress included an African American member: Oscar Stanton DePriest, the son of former slaves, elected from Chicago. Rather than bow to  political pressure, she invited Mrs. DePriest to an intimate tea at the White House with the wives of cabinet members. Her attendance as an invited guest at a White House social function accorded her social legitimacy, and by implication, equal standing with the white guests, something well ahead of her time. First Lady Lou will discuss issues of ethnicity, diversity and identity, giving audience members great insights into the history of these important issues.

First Lady Lou was written by Des Moines, Iowa playwright, Rebecca Christian. The Hoover Presidential Foundation has received a grant award from Humanities Iowa, a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from Royal Neighbors of America in support of First Lady Lou.

Performance Locations, Dates and Times

All performances are offered at no charge with open seating.

Muscatine Community College Little Theatre, Strahan Hall
152 Colorado St., Muscatine, IA
March 24, 7 p.m.

Prairieview Theatre Arts Center
560 SE University Ave, Waukee, IA
March 26,  7 p.m.

Hoover Presidential Library and Musuem, Figge Auditorium
210 Parkside Dr., West Branch, IA
March 29, 2 p.m.

Hoover Middle School Theatre
630 Hillcrest Rd., Waterloo, IASOLD OUT- LOCAL STUDENTS ONLY