Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 2005. "Nathan Roscoe Pound (1870-1964)." Pp. 1965-7 in Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. Volume 3, edited by John Shook. Bristol (UK): Thoemmes Continuum.


Copyright 2005 Michael R. Hill


Roscoe Pound was born on 27 October 1870 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was classically trained in languages and the sciences at the University of Nebraska and received the BA degree in 1888. Pound’s innovative graduate studies in botany under the tutelage of Charles E. Bessey, resulted in a doctoral dissertation written jointly with Frederic E. Clements, published in 1898, on The Phytogeography of Nebraska. The Phytogeography established the American school of plant ecology (Tobey 1981) and for his part Pound received the first Nebraska PhD earned “in course” in 1899. Already a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, Pound was awarded the international scientific medal of the Académie Itzternationale de Géographie Botanique also in 1899. Concurrent with his botanical studies, Pound apprenticed in his father’s law firm and completed a year of formal study at Harvard University Law School. The youthful Nebraska botanist became a lawyer, writing briefs, arguing civil cases, and writing opinions as a specially appointed Commissioner for the Nebraska Supreme Court while teaching law courses part time at the University of Nebraska.