Because West Branch, the town where the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum is located, is two hours east of Des Moines, we unfortunately didn’t have enough time to see or do anything else on our last day in Iowa. But I actually got a glimpse of Herbert Hoover that I’d never quite seen before. In school, I feel like my history classes glossed over Hoover as a president. He was the president of the U.S. during the Great Depression and eventually got pushed out by FDR. He’s often been noted as one of the worst and most useless presidents in U.S. history. He’s also been blamed for exacerbating the Great Depression, as well.
But I didn’t realize that before he became president, he was well respected as an engineer and eventually as a humanitarian during World War I by leading hunger-relief efforts in Europe as the head of the American Relief Administration. Many people in Belgium looked at him as a savior since he provided food for those suffering famine. It’s odd that someone who was so helpful to Europeans during a time of crisis and who had traveled to and lived in Australia and China would not only be isolationist but also conservative and perceived as callous, insensitive, and unaware.
Visiting presidential libraries has educated me about U.S. history in a way that my history classes in school never did. Of course, the presidential libraries are always going to paint each respective president in a flattering way, so. it will take some effort and proactivity to read between the lines. It would be a good idea to do a tour of presidential libraries as a child, as well as of the vast variety of history museums, to supplement all children’s learning in this country… though it would certainly be costly. But it would provide a more well-rounded perspective of what this country is actually made of.