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Louise Pound

Louise Pound was born on June 30th in 1872, in Lincoln, Nebraska. Her mother felt that public school was “too stereotyped,” and therefore educated her three children at home.

She came from a very high-achieving family, with a father who was a district court judge and state senator. Pound was the middle child, and was extremely competitive.

She received her bachelor’s degree as well as a music diploma from the University of Nebraska in 1892, followed by her master’s degree in 1893. Later, she went on to receive her doctor’s degree at the University of Heidelberg, earning it in one-third the usual time. While at the University of Nebraska, doing her undergraduate studies, she was the associate editor of the school newspaper, class orator and poet, women’s state tennis champion in both men’s and women’s singles and doubles for which she received a man’s varsity letter.

Her teaching career began when she taught English at her alma mater in 1894 but she also coached the Universities winning women’s basketball team. She was president of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. She held many records: women’s western lawn tennis championship, Lincoln women’s golf champion, 1908-1923, Nebraska state golf champion, 1916. Pound defeated all competition, even men, for the UNL tennis title in 1891 and 1892. She won the Rainbow gold Medal fro bicycling 5,000 miles. Louise was an outstanding athlete and took part in several “century runs” which required that she bicycle 100 miles in just twelve hours.

She was a distinguished literary scholar, renowned athlete, accomplished musician, and devoted women’s sports advocate. She is perhaps best remembered for her groundbreaking work in the field of linguistics and folklore and for her role as the first woman president of the Modern Language Association.

She befriended and played an influential role in the life of the young Willa Cather during Cather’s years at the University of Nebraska; H. L. Mencken praised her extravagantly; and scholars of literature, folklore, and dialect studies elevated her to the presidency of their professional societies.

Pound was the Nebraska director (1906-1908) and later national vice president of the American Association of University Women from the 1930s to 1944. She was inducted into the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame in 1955.

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 was a redhead, proud of it, and founded the Order of the Golden Fleece to which only natural redheads could belong.

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