Museum logo
Museum logo

Archive Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Collection Number RG0912.AM
Collection Name RG0912 Pound, Louise, 1872-1958
Identifier Personal papers
Size and Materials 33 boxes; 15.75 cu.ft.; 1 reel of microfilm
Title Louise Pound papers
Date or Date Span 1881-1958
Year Range from 1881
Year Range to 1958
Admin/Biographical History Louise Pound was born June 30, 1872, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her parents, Stephen and Laura Pound, had come to Lincoln in 1869; she was the second of their three children. Their mother educated the three children at home until they entered the University of Nebraska preparatory school. Miss Pound graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Bachelor of Arts in 1892 and also earned a Master of Arts degree and a diploma in music there. She then completed a dissertation at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, passing the examination for a doctorate magna cum laude (1900) in two instead of the usual seven semesters.

In 1890, when she was 18, Louise Pound became Lincoln City Tennis Champion. She competed against men for the University of Nebraska title in 1891 and 1892, winning both years. In 1897 she won the Women's Western Tennis Championship and in 1900 the Championship of Heidelberg. She also played a tie match with the Olympic men's singles tennis titleholder while at Heidelberg. She won the state golf championship in 1916 and a 100 mile cycling medal in 1906, was a figure skater on ice, introduced skiing to Lincoln, and managed the university women's basketball team. She is the only woman in the University of Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame.

During World War I Miss Pound served as a staff member of the Women's Committee of the State Council of Defense; she was acting state head of the National League for Women's Services in 1918, chairman of Overseas Relief Activities, and a member of the Food for France Committee. She belonged to the DAR, Phi Beta Kappa, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Theta Sigma Phi, Chi Delta Phi, Sigma Tau Delta, Delta Omicron, Alpha Lambda Delta, Delta Kappa Gamma, Pi Gamma Mu, and Mortar Board. She was also a member of the Lincoln Country Club, the Lincoln University Club, Copper Kettle, Wooden Spoons, and the Omaha Press Club. In 1955 she was elected the first woman president of the Modern Language Association.

Miss Pound served 50 years at the University of Nebraska, retiring in 1945. She taught American Literature, Contemporary English, and Comparative Literature. During summer sessions she gave courses at other educational institutions including the University of California, Yale, University of Chicago, Columbia University, and Stanford University. She contributed to the Encyclopedia Britannica, American Speech Quarterly, American Literature, Southern Folklore Quarterly, and College English. Her correspondents included H.L. Mencken and Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

Louise Pound died June 27, 1958, at the family home in Lincoln. She was survived by her brother Roscoe, Dean Emeritus of Harvard Law School, and her sister, Olivia, retired Lincoln High School administrator.
Scope & Content This collection is arranged in seven series: 1) Biographical and personal information; 2) Correspondence, 1881-1958; 3) Folklore materials; 4) Literature/language materials; 5) Lectures and speeches; 6) Organizations and activities; and 7) Miscellaneous.

Most of the materials reflect Louise Pound's lifelong research interest in American folklore, folk songs, dialects, and popular language. They provide details concerning her career at the University of Nebraska and the academic, civic and social organizations to which she belonged.

Miss Pound's biographical materials, including a complete bibliography of her publications and clippings detailing her accomplishments, are in located in Series 1.

Correspondents whose letters appear in Series 2 include H. L. Mencken, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Mari Sandoz, Mamie Meredith, Ben Botkin, and Catherine LeMaster Eckrich. She maintained a lifelong correspondence with Anni Pfister, a Jewish friend whom she met as a student at the University of Heidelburg. Some of those letters poignantly describe Mrs. Pfister's sojourn in the Philippines during World War II and the isolated life she led in Switzerland in her later years. (A few additional letters on specific research topics are found in Series 3 and Series 4 with the research notes to which they are related, as Miss Pound had filed them.) Note: Due to their condition, some original correspondence has been photocopied and removed. The original correspondence is restricted for preservation. Researchers must use the photocopies in the collection.

Folklore publications and resource files are in Series 3. In addition to two major works, a section of the Dictionary of Regional Folklore titled "Pioneer Days in the Midwest" and the book Origins of the Ballad, Miss Pound published dozens of short articles on Nebraska and Western folklore topics throughout her life. A number of her articles dealt with tall tales or with the legends recounted about generic sites like lovers' leaps.

In Series 4 are Louise Pound's articles and typed presentations on literary and language topics. Some discuss general subjects including contemporary fiction, American speech, and American slang. Others analyze more specific subjects like dream language or patterns of word formation related to a particular part of speech. Still others, generally very brief, demonstrate the uses of a single word or expression ("it," "darn," "OK"). Miss Pound stored in her language resource files a lifetime's clippings from magazines and newspapers in which she had marked examples of popular speech; she continued collecting examples all her life.

Series 5 includes Miss Pound's files for course lectures and the note cards for her lectures and speeches. The complete text of most of her speeches was handwritten on 3" x 5" cards. Her most frequent topics were her folklore and language research interests; in addition, she spoke on several occasions about women's roles and university life.

Fascinating comments on student activities and groups at the University of Nebraska at the end of the nineteenth century and in the early years of the twentieth century appear in Series 6. Louise Pound took pride in her achievements in tennis and cycling and her involvement in the national social sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. She took equal pleasure in her participation in Golden Fleece, a group of red-headed University of Nebraska women; and in NUTT (Nu Epsilon Tau Tau), a short-lived honorary society for women created to satirize traditional honorary groups.

Also in Series 6 are materials related to the professional organizations to which Louise Pound belonged: the Nebraska Writers Guild, the American Dialect Association, the Modern Language Association, and Chi Delta Phi.

Series 7 houses miscellaneous materials including social and political articles and clippings. There are a few popular magazines from the 1920s and catalogs from various universities, as well as 1954 centennial sections of the Lincoln Journal-Star.
Creator Pound, Louise, 1872-1958
Finding Aids Louise Pound finding aid
Related units of description RG0909: Pound Family
RG0910: Laura Biddlecombe Pound
RG0911: Roscoe Pound
RG0913: Olivia Pound
Subjects Authors
English language
Education
People Fisher, Dorothy (Canfield), 1879-1958
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956
Pound, Louise, 1872-1958
Sandoz, Mari Susette, 1896-1966
Search Terms Ballads, English -- United States
English language -- Phonetics
English language -- Study and teaching (Higher)
Songs, English -- United States
University of Nebraska