John L. Loos

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


Loos was born to John George Loos and the former Katherine Pauley in Friend in Saline County in southeastern Nebraska. He graduated in 1935 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, 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. Loos then served for five years in the United States Army in the South Pacific during World War II. He was an artillery officer who was promoted to major and a recipient of 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 along the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. 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, Loos 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. On retirement, he became professor emeritus. Loos spoke before various organizations, including the Louisiana Historical Association, of which he was the president in 1976,[2] and the Organization of American Historians.[1]

Loos's books 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.[3]In 1964, Loos published a six-page article on Lewis and Clark, "They Opened the Door to the West", suitable as a lecture guide.[4]

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 to be held on October 2 at University Presbyterian Church in Baton Rouge, where Loos had been an active member for more than fifty years. Interment was to follow on October 4 at Harvard Cemetery in Harvard, Nebraska. 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 was Professor David Culbert, a historian of film and media.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 loos&pid=1538830166 John L. Loos. Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, October 1, 2011. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.
  2. Presidents of the Louisiana Historical Association. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.
  3. John L. Loos. Salem Press. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.
  4. "They Opened the Door to the West". Retrieved on October 1, 2011.
  5. David Culbert named first John Loos Professorship in History, November 14, 2005. Retrieved on October 1, 2011.