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Herbert Hoover comes into focus at library-museum

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Located just off Interstate 80 in eastern Iowa is West Branch, the hometown of the 31st president of the United States, Herbert Hoover.

Fishing exhibit, Counselor to the Republic Gallery, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, West Branch, Iowa

Photo: GTM/David Hoekman Fishing exhibit, Counselor to the Republic Gallery, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum, West Branch, Iowa

The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum tells the story of Hoover’s early days in West Branch, his education at Stanford University and how he became a multimillionaire mining engineer, humanitarian and U.S. president.

“The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum offers visitors an overview of the life and times of the 31st president with a special focus on his 50 years of humanitarian and public service,” said Thomas F. Schwartz, director. “Tours are self-guided but archivists offer special group programs subject to their availability and scheduling in advance.”

The museum’s re-created Belgian warehouse recalls Hoover’s efforts to feed millions of victims of World War I, for which he earned praise as “The Great Humanitarian.”

Hoover served as the Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s and was active in everything from radio to aviation to child welfare.

Seven months after Hoover was inaugurated as president in 1929, the stock market crashed, and despite his efforts to deal with the economy his reputation went from hero to scapegoat.

After World War II, Hoover again worked on food relief and headed commissions to reorganize the executive branch of the federal government. He died at age 90 in New York City on Oct. 20, 1964.

Temporary exhibitions are housed in a large gallery.

Operators can arrange an archivist presentation for a tour group.

“Our archivists have a vast wealth of information and interesting stories about Hoover and his times,” Schwartz said. “Their presentations have consisted of PowerPoint as well as bringing an assortment of items from the archival collections to discuss with a group, depending on the size.”

Motorcoach parking is available.

Outside the museum is the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, which features Hoover’s birthplace cottage, gravesite and period buildings. To experience both the museum and the historic site, allow two to three hours.

For more information on the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum call 319-643-5301 or go to hoover.archives.gov.

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