Anthony, Susan B.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress Leader in Women’s Rights This famous women’s rights leader was born in Adams, Massachusetts on February 15th, 1820.  It wasn’t until 1845 that her family moved to Rochester, New York on the Erie Canal.  Their house then became a meeting place for anti-slavery activists and perhaps the place where Susan B. Anthony first became interested in political events.  In 1851, she attended her first anti-slavery convention in Syracuse.  Soon thereafter in 1852, Anthony attended her first women’s rights convention and proceeded to join the Women’s Rights Movement.  Two years later she began a New York State campaign for women’s suffrage in Chatauqua County.  In 1869 she called for the first Women Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C.    In probably her most noted act, Anthony was arrested for voting in 1872.  This didn’t stop her cause one bit and she continued to fight until her last breath.  In 1898, The Life & Work of Susan B. Anthony, A Story of the Evolution of the Status of Women was published and in 1906, Anthony made her last public appearance.  At the suffrage hearings in Washington D.C., she gave her ‘Failure is Impossible’ speech at her 86th birthday celebration.  She died almost a month later on March 13th, 1906. Source: Biography.com, PBS, susanbanthonyhouse.org Learning Links The Susan B. Anthony House The Susan B. Anthony House is located in Rochester, New York and was her home during the most politically active period in her life.  It is also the site of her famous arrest for voting in 1872.  Today the house is...

Edison, Thomas

Photograph copyright by Emil P. Spahn, Newark, New Jersey. Copyrighted 1880. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Thomas A. Edison: The Wizard of Menlo Park 1847 – 1931   In May of 1913, it was decided by a survey of independent magazine readers that Thomas A. Edison was the most useful man in the country. Although Edison was born on February 11th, 1847, the impact of his accomplishments are still being felt over a century later.   When he was a young boy, doctors feared that he might be brain damaged because of the size of his head.  However, by 1869, this odd young man named Thomas Alva Edison had become a full time inventor.  In addition to inventing the phonograph, incandescent light bulbs, and motion picture camera, Edison established over 1,093 patents earning him the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”   On April 24, 1889 the Edison General Electric Company was organized.  In December of 1903, The Edison Manufacturing Company released its hit film, The Great Train Robbery, directed by Edwin S. Porter.  On May 21st, 1928 Edison received an honorary medal from Congress.  Three years later, on January 6th, 1931, Thomas Edison filed his last patentapplication.  He died in November of that same year.    Thomas Alva Edison will be remembered as one of the most prolific inventors of all time.  His patents and discoveries cover a multitude of subjects, including: electric lighting, electric railways, secondary batteries, phonographs, cylinder records, and much more.  These inventions have made a significant impact on how science and invention have progressed in...

Armstrong, Neil

Neil A. Armstrong is the Chairman of the Board of AIL Systems, Inc., Deer Park, N.Y., an electronic systems company. He was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1955. Image courtesy of NASA After serving as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952 and completing his studies at Purdue, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955. His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. For the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). As a research pilot at NASA’s Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., he was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft, including the well known, 4000-mph X-15. He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders. Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962. He was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission. Gemini 8 was launched on March 16, 1966, and Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space. As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface. The Eagle Has Landed – Archived Historical Movie Source: Internet Archives – Moving Images Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy...

Tesla, Nikola

Patent Number 390,414 Nikola Tesla was born in 1856 in Austria-Hungary and emigrated to the U.S. in 1884 as a physicist. He pioneered the generation, transmission, and use of alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be transmitted over much greater distances than direct current. Tesla patented a device to induce electrical current in a piece of iron (a rotor) spinning between two electrified coils of wire. This rotating magnetic field device generates AC current when it is made to rotate by using some form mechanical energy, like steam or hydropower. When the generated current reaches its user and is fed into another rotating magnetic field device, this second device becomes an AC induction motor that produces mechanical energy. Induction motors run household appliances like clothes washers and dryers. Development of these devices led to widespread industrial and manufacturing uses for electricity. The induction motor was only part of Tesla’s overall conception. In a series of history-making patents, he demonstrated a polyphase alternating-current system, consisting of a generator, transformers, transmission layout, and motor and lights. From the power source to the power user, it provided the basic elements for electrical production and utilization. Our AC power system remains essentially unchanged today. In 1888, George Westinghouse, head of the Westinghouse Electric Company, bought the patent rights to Tesla’s system of dynamos, transformers and motors. Westinghouse used Tesla’s alternating current system to light the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. Then in 1896, Tesla’s system was used at Niagara Falls in the world’s first large hydroelectric plant. The Tesla coil, invented in...

Van Buren, Martin

Martin Van BurenUS President – 1837-41 Courtesy of the Library of Congress Only about 5 feet, 6 inches tall, but trim and erect, Martin Van Buren dressed fastidiously. His impeccable appearance belied his amiability–and his humble background. Of Dutch descent, he was born in 1782, the son of a tavernkeeper and farmer, in Kinderhook, New York. As a young lawyer he became involved in New York politics. As leader of the “Albany Regency,” an effective New York political organization, he shrewdly dispensed public offices and bounty in a fashion calculated to bring votes. Yet he faithfully fulfilled official duties, and in 1821 was elected to the United States Senate. By 1827 he had emerged as the principal northern leader for Andrew Jackson. President Jackson rewarded Van Buren by appointing him Secretary of State. As the Cabinet Members appointed at John C. Calhoun’s recommendation began to demonstrate only secondary loyalty to Jackson, Van Buren emerged as the President’s most trusted adviser. Jackson referred to him as, “a true man with no guile.” The rift in the Cabinet became serious because of Jackson’s differences with Calhoun, a Presidential aspirant. Van Buren suggested a way out of an eventual impasse: he and Secretary of War Eaton resigned, so that Calhoun men would also resign. Jackson appointed a new Cabinet, and sought again to reward Van Buren by appointing him Minister to Great Britain. Vice President Calhoun, as President of the Senate, cast the deciding vote against the appointment–and made a martyr of Van Buren. The “Little Magician” was elected Vice President on the Jacksonian ticket...

Reagan, Nancy

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USZ62-110212] Nancy Davis Reagan was born on July 6, 1921, in New York City. Raised in Chicago, she graduated from Girls’ Latin School and went on to Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1943. In her early career, Nancy Davis worked as an actress in stage, film, and television productions. Her stage performances ranged from summer stock to road tours to Broadway and, in 1949, she was signed to a seven-year contract with MGM. During this time, she met Ronald Reagan and they were married on March 4, 1952. She made eleven films in all, including three after her marriage. Her last film, at Columbia in 1956, was “Hellcats of the Navy,” in which she and her husband appeared together. Shortly after her husband became Governor of California in 1967, Mrs. Reagan began visiting wounded Vietnam veterans and became active in projects concerning POWs and servicemen missing in action. During the war, she wrote a syndicated column, donating her salary to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. While First Lady of California, Mrs. Reagan made regular visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly, as well as schools for physically and emotionally handicapped children. During one of these hospital visits in 1967, she observed participants in the Foster Grandparent Program, a program which brings together senior citizens and handicapped children, and she soon became its champion. Later, as First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Reagan continued to help expand the program...

Hoover, Lou Henry

Portrait of Lou Henry Hoover, taken between 1928 and 1933Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [reproduction number, LC-USZ62-25811 DLC] What are your dreams? Would you like to travel the world, live in the White House, write books, or be an honorary leader of all the Girl Scouts of America? Well, one famous woman had all of these adventures and more during her lifetime. Her name was Lou Henry. How did she happen to have what seems to be a boy’s name? Her father had wanted a boy and that’s how it came to be. Lou’s father, Charles Henry, was a banker in Waterloo, Iowa where his daughter was born in 1874. Lou, her younger sister, Jean, and Mr. Henry could be seen around town hiking, riding horses, skating, and camping. Mr. Henry made sure his daughters knew about the outdoors, while Lou’s mother, Florence, made sure that her daughters knew about responsibilities around the house like sewing, music, and art. Lou was lucky to have parents who helped her discover much about the world and her future. Later, the family moved and settled in Whittier, California and then went on to Monterey. Lou planned to be a teacher and attended San Jose Normal School, but teaching was not the best match for Lou. Then, in 1894 something happened that changed Lou Henry’s life forever. During that summer she heard Professor John Casper Branner of Stanford University speak about “The Bones of the Earth”. That was it! She convinced her parents that she should become a geology student at...

Johnson, Lyndon B.

Lyndon B. JohnsonUS President – 1963-69 Courtesy of the Library of Congress “A Great Society” for the American people and their fellow men elsewhere was the vision of Lyndon B. Johnson. In his first years of office he obtained passage of one of the most extensive legislative programs in the Nation’s history. Maintaining collective security, he carried on the rapidly growing struggle to restrain Communist encroachment in Viet Nam. Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, in central Texas, not far from Johnson City, which his family had helped settle. He felt the pinch of rural poverty as he grew up, working his way through Southwest Texas State Teachers College; he learned compassion for the poverty of others when he taught students of Mexican descent. In 1937 he campaigned successfully for the House of Representatives on a New Deal platform, effectively aided by his wife, the former Claudia “Lady Bird” Taylor, whom he had married in 1934. During World War II he served briefly in the Navy as a lieutenant commander, winning a Silver Star in the South Pacific. After six terms in the House, Johnson was elected to the Senate in 1948. In 1953, he became the youngest Minority Leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, Majority Leader. With rare skill he obtained passage of a number of key Eisenhower measures. In the 1960 campaign, Johnson, as John F. Kennedy’s running mate, was elected Vice President. On November 22, 1963, when Kennedy was assassinated, Johnson was sworn in as President. First he...

Adams, John Quincy

John Quincy AdamsUS President – 1825-29 Courtesy of the Library of Congress The first President who was the son of a President, John Quincy Adams in many respects paralleled the career as well as the temperament and viewpoints of his illustrious father. Born in Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1767, he watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from the top of Penn’s Hill above the family farm. As secretary to his father in Europe, he became an accomplished linguist and assiduous diarist. After graduating from Harvard College, he became a lawyer. At age 26 he was appointed Minister to the Netherlands, then promoted to the Berlin Legation. In 1802 he was elected to the United States Senate. Six years later President Madison appointed him Minister to Russia. Serving under President Monroe, Adams was one of America’s great Secretaries of State, arranging with England for the joint occupation of the Oregon country, obtaining from Spain the cession of the Floridas, and formulating with the President the Monroe Doctrine. In the political tradition of the early 19th century, Adams as Secretary of State was considered the political heir to the Presidency. But the old ways of choosing a President were giving way in 1824 before the clamor for a popular choice. Within the one and only party–the Republican–sectionalism and factionalism were developing, and each section put up its own candidate for the Presidency. Adams, the candidate of the North, fell behind Gen. Andrew Jackson in both popular and electoral votes, but received more than William H. Crawford and Henry Clay. Since no...

Morgan, Julia

Julia Morgan Born:January 20, 1872 San Francisco, California Died:February, 1957 Oakland, California Julia Morgan was California’s first female architect. In 1894, she was the first woman to graduate with a Degree in Civil Engineering. With a legacy of over 700 buildings to her credit, it’s no wonder she was also the first woman to be granted the L’Ecole des Beaux Arts Certificate (1902) in Paris, France. Morgan was the second of five children of Charles Bill and Eliza Parmelee Morgan. Her choice of career may have been influenced by her mother’s cousin, Pierre La Brun, who designed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in New York City. After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with her Engineering Degree and traveling to Paris to study, she returned to the states, and shortly thereafter, established her own practice. Julia Morgan’s popularity was due to her careful attention to detail and her ability to organize projects according to the exact specifications of her clients. During the 45 years she practiced, Morgan designed private residences, churches, clubs, banks, schools, hospitals, stores, Mediterranean villas, and Tudor manors. She was the official West Coast architect for the YWCA. Her most notable designs were that of the reconstruction of the Fairmont Hotel after the 1906 San Francisco fire and La Cuesta Encantada, More commonly known as Hearst Castle at San Simeon, which was constructed from 1919 to 1937. When Morgan retired in 1951, the only paperwork she saved were family correspondence, journals, sketchbooks, photos, architectural drawings, and business records. This spoke volumes about how...

Glenn, John

NAME: John Herschel Glenn, Jr. (Colonel, USMC, Ret.) NASA Astronaut Courtesy of the USAF PERSONAL DATA: Born July 18, 1921 in Cambridge, Ohio. Married to the former Anna Margaret Castor of New Concord, Ohio. They have two grown children and two grandchildren. EDUCATION: Glenn attended primary and secondary schools in New Concord, Ohio. He attended Muskingum College in New Concord and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. Muskingum College also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in engineering. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from nine colleges or universities. SPECIAL HONORS: Glenn has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on six occasions, and holds the Air Medal with 18 Clusters for his service during World War II and Korea. Glenn also holds the Navy Unit Commendation for service in Korea, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the China Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy’s Astronaut Wings, the Marine Corps’ Astronaut Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. On March 1, 1999, NASA renamed its Cleveland center the “John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field” in his honor. EXPERIENCE: He entered the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in March 1942 and was graduated from this program and commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1943. After advanced training, he joined Marine Fighter Squadron 155 and spent a year flying F-4U fighters in the Marshall Islands. During his World War II...

Carter, Jimmy

Jimmy CarterUS President – 1977-81 Courtesy of the Library of Congress Jimmy Carter aspired to make Government “competent and compassionate,” responsive to the American people and their expectations. His achievements were notable, but in an era of rising energy costs, mounting inflation, and continuing tensions, it was impossible for his administration to meet these high expectations. Carter, who has rarely used his full name–James Earl Carter, Jr.–was born October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia. Peanut farming, talk of politics, and devotion to the Baptist faith were mainstays of his upbringing. Upon graduation in 1946 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Carter married Rosalynn Smith. The Carters have three sons, John William (Jack), James Earl III (Chip), Donnel Jeffrey (Jeff), and a daughter, Amy Lynn. After seven years’ service as a naval officer, Carter returned to Plains. In 1962 he entered state politics, and eight years later he was elected Governor of Georgia. Among the new young southern governors, he attracted attention by emphasizing ecology, efficiency in government, and the removal of racial barriers. Carter announced his candidacy for President in December 1974 and began a two-year campaign that gradually gained momentum. At the Democratic Convention, he was nominated on the first ballot. He chose Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota as his running mate. Carter campaigned hard against President Gerald R. Ford, debating with him three times. Carter won by 297 electoral votes to 241 for Ford. Carter worked hard to combat the continuing economic woes of inflation and unemployment. By the end of his administration, he could...

Adams, John

John AdamsUS President – 1797-1801 Courtesy of the Library of Congress Learned and thoughtful, John Adams was more remarkable as a political philosopher than as a politician. “People and nations are forged in the fires of adversity,” he said, doubtless thinking of his own as well as the American experience. Adams was born in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1735. A Harvard-educated lawyer, he early became identified with the patriot cause; a delegate to the First and Second Continental Congresses, he led in the movement for independence. During the Revolutionary War he served in France and Holland in diplomatic roles, and helped negotiate the treaty of peace. From 1785 to 1788 he was minister to the Court of St. James’s, returning to be elected Vice President under George Washington. Adams’ two terms as Vice President were frustrating experiences for a man of his vigor, intellect, and vanity. He complained to his wife Abigail, “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” When Adams became President, the war between the French and British was causing great difficulties for the United States on the high seas and intense partisanship among contending factions within the Nation. His administration focused on France, where the Directory, the ruling group, had refused to receive the American envoy and had suspended commercial relations. Adams sent three commissioners to France, but in the spring of 1798 word arrived that the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand and the Directory had refused...

Polk, James

James K. PolkUS President – 1845-49 Courtesy of the National Guard Often referred to as the first “dark horse” President, James K. Polk was the last of the Jacksonians to sit in the White House, and the last strong President until the Civil War. He was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, in 1795. Studious and industrious, Polk was graduated with honors in 1818 from the University of North Carolina. As a young lawyer he entered politics, served in the Tennessee legislature, and became a friend of Andrew Jackson. In the House of Representatives, Polk was a chief lieutenant of Jackson in his Bank war. He served as Speaker between 1835 and 1839, leaving to become Governor of Tennessee. Until circumstances raised Polk’s ambitions, he was a leading contender for the Democratic nomination for Vice President in 1844. Both Martin Van Buren, who had been expected to win the Democratic nomination for President, and Henry Clay, who was to be the Whig nominee, tried to take the expansionist issue out of the campaign by declaring themselves opposed to the annexation of Texas. Polk, however, publicly asserted that Texas should be “re-annexed” and all of Oregon “re-occupied.” The aged Jackson, correctly sensing that the people favored expansion, urged the choice of a candidate committed to the Nation’s “Manifest Destiny.” This view prevailed at the Democratic Convention, where Polk was nominated on the ninth ballot. “Who is James K. Polk?” Whigs jeered. Democrats replied Polk was the candidate who stood for expansion. He linked the Texas issue, popular in the South, with the...

Joyner-Kersee, Jackie

Track and Field Athlete Jackie Joyner was born on March 3rd, 1962 in East St. Louis, Illinois.  She came from a family well know for its athleticism as she was the younger sister of Olympic track and field star Al Joyner, and sister-in-law of the late track star Florence Griffith Joyner.  Not only did she overcome asthma to become a world heptathlon record holder, but she won several Olympic medals as well.  In high school she was a basketball and track star, gaining an athletic scholarship to UCLA.  She achieved her B.A. in History and in 1986 married Bob Kersee.   Perhaps Jackie’s greatest personal victory came when she became the first woman to ever win the gold medal in the long jump.  She made history at the 1988 Olympics.  She also won the silver for the heptathlon in 1984, and the bronze in the long jump in 1992.  Although she retired after the Goodwill games in Atlanta, Georgia in 1998, Jackie Joyner-Kersee still holds the world record in the long jump at 24 feet and 7 inches.  She has since founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Community Foundation, which is dedicated to helping disadvantaged youth. Source: Biography.com, IAAF Additional Learning Links International Association of Athletics Federations Check out this multimedia presentation on Jackie Joyner Kersee from the Association of Athletics. Click on the links on the left to find other athletes.Source: IAAF ESPN Internet Ventures Read this in-depth article from ESPN Sports Century Athletes about Joyner-Kersee.  Learn about how her career began as well as some facts about growing up.Source: ESPN Find more information...

Buchanan, James

James Buchanan US President – 1857-61 Courtesy of the National Guard Tall, stately, stiffly formal in the high stock he wore around his jowls, James Buchanan was the only President who never married. Presiding over a rapidly dividing Nation, Buchanan grasped inadequately the political realities of the time. Relying on constitutional doctrines to close the widening rift over slavery, he failed to understand that the North would not accept constitutional arguments which favored the South. Nor could he realize how sectionalism had realigned political parties: the Democrats split; the Whigs were destroyed, giving rise to the Republicans. Born into a well-to-do Pennsylvania family in 1791, Buchanan, a graduate of Dickinson College, was gifted as a debater and learned in the law. He was elected five times to the House of Representatives; then, after an interlude as Minister to Russia, served for a decade in the Senate. He became Polk’s Secretary of State and Pierce’s Minister to Great Britain. Service abroad helped to bring him the Democratic nomination in 1856 because it had exempted him from involvement in bitter domestic controversies. As President-elect, Buchanan thought the crisis would disappear if he maintained a sectional balance in his appointments and could persuade the people to accept constitutional law as the Supreme Court interpreted it. The Court was considering the legality of restricting slavery in the territories, and two justices hinted to Buchanan what the decision would be. Thus, in his Inaugural the President referred to the territorial question as “happily, a matter of but little practical importance” since the...

Garfield, James

James A. GarfieldUS President – 1881 Courtesy of the National Guard As the last of the log cabin Presidents, James A. Garfield attacked political corruption and won back for the Presidency a measure of prestige it had lost during the Reconstruction period. He was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, in 1831. Fatherless at two, he later drove canal boat teams, somehow earning enough money for an education. He was graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts in 1856, and he returned to the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College) in Ohio as a classics professor. Within a year he was made its president. Garfield was elected to the Ohio Senate in 1859 as a Republican. During the secession crisis, he advocated coercing the seceding states back into the Union. In 1862, when Union military victories had been few, he successfully led a brigade at Middle Creek, Kentucky, against Confederate troops. At 31, Garfield became a brigadier general, two years later a major general of volunteers. Meanwhile, in 1862, Ohioans elected him to Congress. President Lincoln persuaded him to resign his commission: It was easier to find major generals than to obtain effective Republicans for Congress. Garfield repeatedly won re-election for 18 years, and became the leading Republican in the House. At the 1880 Republican Convention, Garfield failed to win the Presidential nomination for his friend John Sherman. Finally, on the 36th ballot, Garfield himself became the “dark horse” nominee. By a margin of only 10,000 popular votes, Garfield defeated the Democratic nominee, Gen. Winfield Scott...

Hoover, Herbert Clark

Herbert HooverUS President – 1929-33 Courtesy of the Library of Congress Son of a Quaker blacksmith, Herbert Clark Hoover brought to the Presidency an unparalleled reputation for public service as an engineer, administrator, and humanitarian. Born in an Iowa village in 1874, he grew up in Oregon. He enrolled at Stanford University when it opened in 1891, graduating as a mining engineer. He married his Stanford sweetheart, Lou Henry, and they went to China, where he worked for a private corporation as China’s leading engineer. In June 1900 the Boxer Rebellion caught the Hoovers in Tientsin. For almost a month the settlement was under heavy fire. While his wife worked in the hospitals, Hoover directed the building of barricades, and once risked his life rescuing Chinese children. One week before Hoover celebrated his 40th birthday in London, Germany declared war on France, and the American Consul General asked his help in getting stranded tourists home. In six weeks his committee helped 120,000 Americans return to the United States. Next Hoover turned to a far more difficult task, to feed Belgium, which had been overrun by the German army. After the United States entered the war, President Wilson appointed Hoover head of the Food Administration. He succeeded in cutting consumption of foods needed overseas and avoided rationing at home, yet kept the Allies fed. After the Armistice, Hoover, a member of the Supreme Economic Council and head of the American Relief Administration, organized shipments of food for starving millions in central Europe. He extended aid to famine-stricken Soviet Russia...

Hoover, Herbert – BIO-2

In 1870, Jesse, now the town blacksmith, married Hulda Minthorn, a teacher from Ontario, Canada. On the occasion of Herbert’s birth, Jesse went through town declaring, “We have another General Grant in our house.” Herbert’s birth was followed in 1876 by the birth of a sister, Mary (May). The Hoover children spent their early years growing up in West Branch, Iowa. West Branch provided both joys and hazards of life. The children could hike, explore, and swim as well as hunt for fossils and agate in the glacial gravel along the railroad tracks. Their Quaker upbringing forbade the Hoover boys from carrying a gun, so they learned to hunt for rabbit and prairie chickens with bow and arrow. They learned these skills from young Indian boys who were attending a local government training school. Willow poles, butcher string lines and hooks that cost a penny apiece provided Herbert Hoover with sunfish and catfish. There was also Cook’s Hill for sledding on home-made sleds. Jesse Hoover died at the age of 34, on December 13, 1880. Hulda and the children remained in West Branch, where she earned money working as a seamstress. She also traveled and spoke throughout Iowa about the Quaker faith. A return trip home by foot from a Springdale revival changed a chest cold into pneumonia complicated by typhoid fever. The children were separated: May went to live with Grandmother Minthorn, Tad went to Hubbard, Iowa and later to Newberg, Oregon with Uncle John Minthorn, and Herbert stayed on a farm outside of West Branch, Iowa for about a...

Berlin, Irving

Courtesy of Library of Congress Irving Berlin (1888-1989) The sun is shining The grass is green The orange and palm trees sway There’s never been such a day In Beverly Hills, L.A. But it’s December the twenty-fourth And I’m longing to be up north… Do you know what song begins with this verse? If not, you’re not alone. Most people don’t know that a self-taught composer and lyricist named Irving Berlin wrote this infamous song called, “White Christmas.” We recognize it only when hearing the words, ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.’ The song has since become a holiday standard. Born with the name Israel Baline, Irving Berlin was one of eight children. His family moved from overseas to New York City in 1893. Berlin’s first song titled, “Marie from Sunny Italy” was published in 1907 under the name I. Berlin by mistake. From that day forward he referred to himself as Irving Berlin. Berlin never learned how to read harmony and he played by ear, but he nevertheless managed to create hit songs. In 1938 on the eve of World War II, his song, “God Bless America,” was unofficially adopted as a second national anthem. The song itself was written several years earlier during the time he served in the Army, but it was never released to the public. In 1942, the film Holiday Inn was released starring Bing Crosby and featuring the song “White Christmas.” When Crosby traveled overseas to sing to the troops, they always requested “White Christmas.” Crosby was reluctant to perform it due...
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