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1929: Marie Curie visits the Hoover White House

Marie Curie with President Hoover at the White House in 1929
Marie Curie came to the United States for the second time in October of 1929. Her purpose for the visit was the same; she was to receive a gift of radium from the people of America. This time Marie Curie needed the radium to give to a new Polish Radium Institute in Warsaw. There was considerably less fanfare on the second visit for several reasons. First, she did not receive the radium itself. She was presented with a bank draft for $50,000. Notice that in the 8 years since her previous visit the price of radium had dropped from $100,000 per gram to $50,000 per gram. This was due primarily to the introduction of commercial radium from ore deposits in Katanga in the Belgian Congo. So, the $50,000 was used to purchase radium from the Belgian chemical company that performed the separations.

Her visit to the Hoover White House was overshadowed by other events that week in the United States. She arrived in late October of 1929, two days after the stock market crash of the century. Nevertheless, President Hoover took time to welcome her to the White House and present her with the bank draft. This report appeared from the Associated Press from October 30, 1929:

In the presence of a distinguished company of American officials and scientists Madame Curie was presented today with a bank draft for $50,000 by President Hoover to carry on her researches in the Curie-Polish Cancer Hospital and Laboratory in Warsaw. ..., the President said the gift was an expression on the part of the American people of their gratitude for the "beneficient service Madame Curie has given to all mankind."

Associated Press

Created August 13, 2009, Updated September 26, 2016