From Iowa To The World

Children walk with and admire an elder former president in postwar Warsaw.
Children admire Herbert Hoover during a trip to postwar Poland in 1946.

National Archives & Records Administration

How did daily life of a rural community in the 1870s and 1880s compare to own own daily lives? Did events of Herbert Hoover's childhood motivate his career in public service? What did Herbert Hoover do to be recognized as a good citizen of the world? A visit to the Birthplace Cottage, Blacksmith Shop, Schoolhouse, and Friends Meetinghouse helps answer these questions.

Plan Your Field Trip

There is no charge to visit Herbert Hoover National Historic Site or to reserve a guided tour. Plan your visit to find directions, operating hours, and other things to know before you come. Dress for the weather. Park rangers move activities indoors only during severe weather like thunderstorms, tornados, and floods. Picnic shelters are available for lunch, first-come first-served. The picnic shelters have trash containers to help you keep the park clean.

Reserve A Guided Tour

Interested in a ranger-guided tour for your field trip? Groups should be no larger than 30 participants per tour, including adults. "From Iowa To The World" is recommended for grades 6 through 8 but can be adjusted for other ages.

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Self-guided Tours

Are you guiding your class yourself? The Herbert Hoover NHS mobile app has photos, and a "Teachers" category with recommended tour stops and suggested activities. Educators may borrow a tablet with the mobile app from the Visitor Center. There is no charge to borrow a tablet but government-issued photo identification is required.

Reserve A Tablet

Pre-visit Activities

Each activity includes questions that can be used either for discussion or as writing prompts. The questions ask students to reflect on what they have read, connect it to their own lives, and predict the effect of what they learn.

  1. Timeline. Students will gain perspective on the daily life of Herbert Hoover through looking at inventions and developments from his lifetime. Students are asked to add in their birth year, as well as the years of inventions and developments important to them. Download »
  2. Reading: "Herbert Hoover’s Family Background." Students will learn about Hoover’s family and daily life during his time in West Branch. The questions accompanying this reading focus on understanding daily life in the late 1800’s and connecting those experiences to students’ own lives. Download »
  3. Reading: "Herbert Hoover Remembers His Childhood." Students will read about Hoover’s remembrances of his time in West Branch. They will consider the impact of his childhood on his later life, as well as connect it to their own lives and experiences. Download »
  4. Schematic of the Birthplace Cottage. Students will consider a schematic of the small cottage in which Hoover was born and spent his first few years of childhood. Again, they will learn about Hoover’s experiences as they make connections to their own lives. Download »

Post-visit Activities

Each activity includes questions that can be used either for discussion or as writing prompts. You can print the activities as worksheets and have students work in groups.

  1. World War I Food Posters. Students are presented with four World War I food posters and asked to analyze both for content and meaning. A series of prompts and questions ask the student to consider the message of the creator of the posters, as well as the meaning of the symbols used and word choice. Students are asked to consider the effectiveness as the posters as well as to consider how they would produce such an item today. Download »
  2. Political Cartoons about Herbert Hoover. This section includes two cartoons from the 1920s by Ding Darling, the Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist for the Des Moines Register. Students are provided some context for the cartoon and asked to consider the content, meaning, and intent of them. Download »
  3. Portions of the 1880 Census. Three pages from the 1880 census of West Branch are provided for students’ consideration. They are asked to find specific details from the census, as well as to consider larger questions that can be answered using this data. Herbert Hoover’s immediate family and some of his relatives are found in the included portion of the census. Download »
  4. Suggested Extensions. This section includes some ideas for projects and activities that tie into what students learn about Herbert Hoover through a field trip to the park and these curriculum materials. Go »

Field Trips, Primary Sources, Student Activities, Teacher Reference Materials

From Iowa To The World

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Grade Level:
Middle School: Sixth Grade through Eighth Grade
Subject:
Social Studies
State Standards:
Iowa Core (6-8): SS.6-8.H.1, SS.6-8.H.3, SS.6-8.H.4, SS.6-8.H.7, SS.6-8.H.8;
National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS): Themes IV(C,F), VI(I), IX(F), X(B)

Background

How did daily life of a rural community in the 1870s and 1880s compare to own own daily lives? Did events of Herbert Hoover's childhood motivate his career in public service? What did Herbert Hoover do to be recognized as a good citizen of the world? A visit to the Birthplace Cottage, Blacksmith Shop, Schoolhouse, and Friends Meetinghouse helps answer these questions.

Program Objectives For Students

A visit to the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site and the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum fit within the framework of a number of course topics, and align neatly with both the Iowa Core Curriculum for History for grades 6-8 and the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Students will be able to:

  1. Relate the events of Herbert Hoover's childhood in West Branch, Iowa, that may have motivated his accomplishments and public works.
  2. Understand the daily life of a rural community in the 1870s and 1880s and connect that experience to their own daily lives.
  3. Describe and evaluate the activities that led to Hoover's recognition as a good citizen of the world.

Course Connections

Early US History

A visit to the historic structures at Herbert Hoover National Historic Site connects well with US history units relating to the late 1800s. Specific historical themes covered during a tour of the park include the interactions of people with their environment, the influences of the technology of the time and the importance of faith and education for early Iowans.

Modern US History

Classes studying the early 20th century through the Great Depression would also benefit greatly from a visit to the park in concert with the tour of the library-museum. The very real influences on a young Herbert Hoover are explored and can give insight towards understanding Hoover’s actions as a humanitarian and public official.

Natural/Life Sciences

Although the countryside would have been planted with row crops when Hoover was a child, the park includes 81 acres of reconstructed prairie that provide a wide variety of curriculum connections. Students studying any type of life science could benefit from this window on to what the prairies of Iowa once were like. Please see the Curriculum Materials page on our website for lesson plans and activities related to the prairie.

Credit

Herbert Hoover: From Iowa to the World. Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, National Park Service, West Branch, Iowa. Original edition by Patricia Wheeler, 1995. The Herbert Hoover Story. Revised and updated 2010 by Daniel Stevenson; edited by Adam Prato.