Hoover: Master of Emergencies

Austrian boy waiting for milk during WWII. (Photo Courtesy of Wessel's Living History Farm)

The presentation of Herbert Hoover as a humanitarian works directly against what most people think of his role in American history. History portrays Hoover mostly in terms of the Great Depression. An example is the collective shanty town where people lived during the Depression. These towns were called Hoovervilles as an insult to the President.

People in the US rarely remember Hoover as the driving force for humanitarian work throughout his life. He was the appointed head of the American Relief Administration (ARA), and he helped to organize millions of dollars in aid. His post-World War II efforts include a fact-finding mission to Austria and Germany, fighting famine in European countries, and helping children in need everywhere. His efforts in both world wars resulted in many lives being saved.

With the millions of dollars raised, many children, who faced starvation, were given the chance to survive. Hoover set up programs and distribution sites throughout war ravaged areas, with the help of the ARA and others. His dedication to humanitarian efforts makes him a highly celebrated individual in many European countries.

Unidentified girl campaigning for Hoover. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

Photo courtesy of the Iowa City Community School District

His background with the ARA made Herbert Hoover a natural candidate for President. Many people were impressed by his humanitarian efforts and organizational skills. In 1928, he was elected President and held that postition for only one term. When he reran for office in 1932, he lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt; the onset of the Great Depression ruined his chance for reelection. Even after his crushing defeat, when he could have retired, he remained loyal to the humanitarian efforts.

We would like to further your knowledge about Herbert Hoover and his food relief efforts.

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Created by: Ross Byerly, Kim Nelson, Desiree Clark, Meredith Tinney, Keziah Low
Special thanks to Craig Wright, Maureen Harding, and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum
Site launched: November 20, 2006
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