John L. Loos

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John Louis Loos

(Louisiana State University historian)

Historian John L. Loos of LA.jpg

Born March 9, 1918
Friend, Saline County, Nebraska
Died September 25, 2011
Lafayette, Louisiana
Spouse Helen Nunn Loos
Religion Presbyterian

John Louis Loos (March 9, 1918 – September 25, 2011) was an American historian affiliated for thirty-four years with Louisiana State University, known particularly for his research on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.


Loos was born to John George Loos (1896-1976) and the former Katherine Pauley (1895-1981) in Friend in Saline County in southeastern Nebraska. His parents later relocated to the capital city of Lincoln, Nebraska.

In 1935, Loos graduated from Harvard High School in Harvard in Clay County near Hastings, Nebraska. In 1939, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a "Regent Scholar with Distinction." He was also affiliated with the Pi Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honor fraternity. In 1940, he received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska, where he was a university fellow. For five years Loos then served in the United States Army in the South Pacific during World War II. He was an artillery officer who was promoted to major and received the Bronze Star medal for meritorious service.[1]

From 1948 to 1951, Loos was an assistant professor at Evansville College in Evansville, Indiana. He received his Ph.D. in history from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. From 1953 to 1955, he was an instructor of United States history at the John Burroughs School in St. Louis.[1]

Academic career

In 1955, he began his professorship at LSU in Baton Rouge, where he specialized in the history of the American West, with emphasis on the life of William Clark, partner of Meriwether Lewis in the 1804-1806 Corps of Discovery, following the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. Loos' 511-page study, William Clark's Part in the Preparation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, was published in 1954 by the Missouri Historical Society.[2] In 1964, Loos published a six-page article on Lewis and Clark, "They Opened the Door to the West", suitable as a lecture guide.[3]

At LSU, Loos was a graduate advisor and taught the introductory seminar on historical methods for all first-year graduate students in history.[1] For a quarter century, he was the chairman of the Department of History and also an interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1983, he was named an LSU "alumni professor" in recognition of his scholarship. Upon mandatory retirement in 1988 at the age of seventy and after twenty-five years as department chairman, he was honored with the designation professor emeritus. During his career, Loos spoke before various organizations, including the Louisiana Historical Association, of which he was president in 1976,[4] and the Organization of American Historians.[1]

Other books by Loos include The American Presidents (1986), with co-authors Tracy Irons-Georges and Frank Northern Magill, and Great Events from History: North American Series, 1895-1955, the latter also co-authored by Frank Magill.[5] In 1959, the LSU Press published Loos's Oil on Stream! A History of Interstate Oil Pipe Line Company, 1909-1959.[6]

Family, death, and legacy

Loos died at the age of ninety-three at a nursing home in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he had relocated in his final years. Memorial services were held on October 2, 2011, at University Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, where Loos had been an active member for more than fifty years. Interment was at Harvard Cemetery in Harvard, Nebraska, on October 4. Loos was survived by his wife, the former Helen Nunn; his son and daughter-in-law, Peter J. and Elizabeth S. Loos; daughter, Katherine M. Loos, and four grandchildren.[1]

In 2005, LSU launched the John L. Loos Professorship in History. The first recipient is David Culbert, an historian of film and media.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 John L. Loos obituary, The Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, October 1, 2011.
  2. William Clark's Part in the Preparation of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Missouri Historical Society. Retrieved on October 3, 2011. 
  3. They Opened the Door to the West. Retrieved on October 1, 2011. 
  4. Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.
  5. John L. Loos. Salem Press. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.
  6. Oil on Stream!. Retrieved on October 2, 2011.
  7. David Culbert named first John Loos Professorship in History, November 14, 2005. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.