• An open vista frames two white grave stone and a flag in the distance with a white cottage in the foreground.

    Herbert Hoover

    National Historic Site Iowa

Statue of Isis

Considering Herbert Hoover's Quaker upbringing, you might be wondering why there is a statue of Isis, "the Egyptian goddess of Life", sitting on the grounds of his birthplace. This bronze, seven and a half foot tall statue is the work of Belgian sculptor Auguste Puttemans, and was a gift from the children, refugees, and soldiers of Belgium in gratitude for Hoover's famine relief efforts on their behalf during the First World War.

 
Bronze statue of a seated Egyptian goddess on a marble block with autumn foliage in the background.
The Statue of Isis faces the Herbert Hoover Birthplace, and provides a visual connection between his upbringing and his later achievements.
NPS PHOTO
 
Bronze statue of a seated, veiled Egyptian goddess against the blue sky and trees of fall foliage.

"Isis, Goddess of Life" by Auguste Puttemans

NPS photo

When the Belgians shipped the finished statue to California's Stanford University in 1922, it remained on campus until the President and Mrs. Hoover brought it to West Branch in 1939. Both of them wanted it to be placed in a position where it was "contemplating the house," which is why Isis sits in her throne-like chair facing the Birthplace Cottage.

Look closely, and you'll notice that her veil, a symbol of the mysteries of life, cannot hide the strength of her features. Her right hand carries the torch of life-its three flames represent the past, present, and future-while her left hand holds the key of life.

An Egyptian goddess and an American President. It's an unlikely pairing, but one that provides a powerful visual link between Hoover's childhood and his life's dedication to the welfare of others. Find out more about Hoover's dedication to children's causes »

 

 

Take a Virtual Tour

This is a stop on the virtual tour of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

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Did You Know?

Black and white photo of the mustached Charles Curtis.

Herbert Hoover's vice president Charles Curtis was of almost half American Indian ancestry. Curtis’ mother was one quarter Kaw, one quarter Pottawatomie and one quarter Osage. More...