Lou Hoover makes her radio address. (ecommcode.com)
A response to a public inquiry about the location from which First Lady Lou Hoover made a radio address that was also filmed for newsreels and shown to the public.
by Carl Sferrazza Anthony, Historian of the National First Ladies Library
Mrs. Hoover had actually established a room in the White House residence from which she both practiced her elocution and from there also delivered at the very least this one public radio address, including the newsreel footage taken of it.
Lou Hoover votes in 1932 Palo Alto California, her home district. (HHL)
The speech in question was entitled, “The Woman’s Place in the Present Emergency,” and made on behalf of the National Women’s Committee of the Welfare and Relief Mobilization.” It was delivered on 27 November 1932 – three weeks or so after her husband lost his bid for re-election.
According to one clipping, Mrs. Hoover had a small room in the White House wired with recording equipment which enabled her to record her preliminary speeches, then replay them to modulate the pitch tone and pace of what she called her “talkie voice” for formal addresses that would both be broadcast and permanently recorded.
From the few vague accounts of this, it was most likely located on the second floor or the third floor “attic.” The visual impression from the newsreel, however, suggests a vaulted ceiling – this would indicate the rooms on the ground floor.
Franklin D. Roosevelt delivering one of his fireside chat radio speeches from the White House. (Huffington Post)
It is established fact that just months after the Hoover Administration ended, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt began delivering his “fireside chats” on the radio to the American people that electronic recording and transmission equipment had to be brought into the present-day oval Diplomatic Reception Room.
It was there that he delivered that legendary series of public radio addresses to the nation.
Lou Hoover making clothes during the Great Depression on a sewing machine, to encourage voluntary aid to those in need. (Library of Congress)
While this is only speculation, it may be that this room was, in fact, used for her radio and newsreel recording as seen in the video (if not all of them) and that contemporary news reports that she practiced her public speaking into a recording device in the same room where she delivered them live to the nation is not, in fact, correct.
Further it may have initially appeared to the public who watched the final newsreel that was released that the First Lady was delivering her radio address while being simultaneously filmed live. However, closer examination of what are actually excerpts of “out-takes” made at that time prove that she actually re-staged the speeches.
Whether she first delivered the audio-only speech for radio or the audio-visual speech for newsreel is unclear.