John Hove Jr. was born on February 1, 1916 in Brampton, North Dakota. He was the son of Laura and John Hove Sr. He studied for three years at the high school in Brampton, before graduating from Britton (South Dakota) High School. He attended Valley City State College in 1933 and graduated in 1937.
He returned to teach at the Brampton High School after graduation. During the following summers, he took courses toward a Master's Degree in English at Stanford University. He briefly attended law school at the University of Chicago before moving to Jamestown in 1940. He taught at the Jamestown High School until 1942, when he entered the United States Navy. Hove served aboard an aircraft carrier during World War II and separated from the service in October 1945, with the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade.
John Hove and Sylvia Hagen were wed at St. Olaf’s Lutheran Church in Devils Lake on March 3, 1945. Sylvia was born April 8, 1911 in Crary, North Dakota, and was the daughter of Otto and Bertha Hagen. John and Sylvia originally met at Valley City State College, where they both were students; Sylvia was also a teacher at Jamestown High School along with John. They had three children: John III, Jeffrey and Susan. Both sons died in car accidents; John III in 1969 and Jeffrey in 1972.
After World War II, John Hove completed a Master's Degree in English from the University of North Dakota. His 1946 thesis was entitled History of Public School Legislation in North Dakota. Following graduation, he was named head of the English Department at Mayville State College. While at Mayville, he took weekend and summer classes over the course of thirteen years and earned a Ph.D in American Studies from the University of Minnesota in 1959. His doctoral dissertation was entitled A Rationale for an Industrial Society. It was also in 1959, that he left Mayville to become head of the English Department at North Dakota Agricultural College, now North Dakota State University.
Both John and Sylvia Hove were involved with the Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party. When the family moved to Fargo, John became chair of the party's organization in Cass County, while Sylvia was active with the Democratic-NPL Women for many years. In 1963, Hove was nominated to run for the United States House of Representatives. This was a special election, caused by the death of Representative Hjalmar Nygaard. Hove lost the election to Republican Mark Andrews, a farmer from Mapleton. Andrews went on to serve seventeen years in the House and one term in the Senate. During the campaign, Hove broke two ribs. He also flew to Washington D.C. to meet President John Kennedy, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson and several other members of the Kennedy Administration.
Following his defeat, Hove returned to the English Department at NDSU. He chaired the North Dakota Council on the Arts from its inception in 1967 until 1981, and was active with the North Dakota Education Association. He was also appointed to the National Advisory Council of the Higher Education Act by President Lyndon Johnson, and was active in the Modern Language Association. Sylvia Hove served as executive director of the Southeastern North Dakota Community Action Agency from 1966 until 1982.
John Hove retired from NDSU in 1981. In doing so, he declined to be named professor emeritus, saying that the English Department needed the office space that would accompany the "hollow title" more than he needed the title.
John Hove died on August 22, 1984 at his home in Fargo. Sylvia Hove died on July 29, 2000 in Moorhead.
The John Hove Papers consist primarily of materials related to Hove's life as well as his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1963. Arranged first are the campaign materials, including advertisements, correspondence, text of speeches and newspaper clippings. Also included is a document entitled "Thoughts on the Hove-Andrews Campaign." This document may have been composed by someone hired by the Hove campaign, as it highlights crucial differences between the candidates, and provides advice to Hove on how to best address these differences.
Following the campaign material are general documents related to the life of John Hove and his family. Included are newspaper clippings and correspondence, a limited edition printing of a poem by Thomas McGrath and the invitation and program from the 1965 inauguration of President Lyndon Johnson and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. Obituaries and memorials of Hove's death in 1984 are also included.