Research effects of father absence



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This child was the second of three children born to Quaker parents in Iowa. His early childhood was happy, but his father, a blacksmith, died from typhoid fever, when the child was only six years old. Then, three years late, when he was nine, his mother, a teacher and seamstress, contracted pneumonia and also died.

The child was sent to live with an uncle. His brother and sister went to live with other relatives, and they were all separated. At first the boy was moved from uncle to uncle, until about a year later, when he was taken to live with yet another uncle, who was emigrating to the Oregon territory.

When he was a child, he hiked and explored the countryside with his siblings, and learned to use a bow and arrow to hunt. Now living with his uncle, he was "put to school and the chores." His responsibilities included feeding and tending to ponies, milking the cow, and splitting wood. He attended school at a Quaker academy and did very well in mathematics, but not as good in his other subjects.

After graduating from school, he moved again with his uncle to help him open a new business in Oregon. He acted as an office-boy, and learned to type and keep books while also attending a a small local college. While doing this, he became interested in engineering. He succeeded in winning a place in the first class of the new Stanford University in California, which was then a tuition-free school; however, he had to get tutoring to get himself ready for classes.

While at Stanford, he majored in geology. He supported himself by holding a variety of jobs, including delivering newspapers, working in a laundry, and assisting his professors. In the summers, he worked with the United States Geological Survey. He was also elected treasurer of his junior class, and managed the university's football and baseball teams. He met a fellow student whom he later married.

He graduated with a degree in geology and went to work for a mining company in Nevada. Subsequently he got jobs with mining companies that took him to a number of other states and other jobs around the world, including London, Australia, and China. In China, he saw the Boxer Rebellion. For five years, he and his family circled the globe as he moved from one position to another.

During WWI, he helped organize relief for widespread food famines in Europe cause by German occupation of allied countries. His success at alleviating Belgian starvation brought him to the attention of the British Ambassador and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. The ambassador described him as a "simple, modest, energetic little man who began his career in California and will end it in Heaven, and he doesn't want anyone's thanks."

His work as a practical engineer and idealist brought him fame and welcome both abroad and in the United States.

Ultimately, he became the 31st president of the United States. After his inauguration, the country was hit with the Great Depression. He started the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to make government loans to save banks, farmers, railways, and other businesses from bankruptcy. He started projects such as the Coulee Dam, and flood control along the Missippi River, as well as negotiated a treaty with Canada to create the St. Lawrence Seaway. He increased the size of national parks and forests by five million acres. And he worked for child protection legislation, writing a Children's Charter calling for the protection from exploitation of all children of every race and creed.

After he left office, he continued public service throughout the rest of his life, being called on repeatedly by subsequent presidents for help in the areas of famine relief, organization of the executive branch, improvement of the economy, and government efficiency.

Herbert Hoover, a boy from a "fatherless home."

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* The term "fatherless" is used in this series as it is in current research and policy rhetoric by the U.S. federal government, DHHS and the National Fatherhood Initiative, most U.S. states in connection with child custody law and policy, and various family values and fatherhood interest policy and lobbying groups.

"...Just add Dad, the magic ingredient. It's hard to know where wishful thinking becomes deliberate deception. But this argument, advanced by the fathers' rights movement, is like saying that, since Mercedes Benz owners make more money than people who drive Hyundais, you will become wealthy if you buy a Mercedes..." Mike Peterson



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