Frederick H. Pough
Frederick H. Pough was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 26, 1906, the son of Francis H. Pough, a chemist and manager of the Union Sulfur Company's refinery, and Alice Hooper Backler. His parents had met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where Francis taught chemistry and Alice was a student in 1899.
Fred enrolled at Washington University in 1924, and transferred to Harvard the following year, graduating cum laude in 1928. His family moved to St. Louis, Missouri around 1930, and Fred worked there briefly as an insurance salesman, then returned to Washington University for graduate school; he did his Master's work at the Rueppele iron mine in Stanton, Missouri. He spent the years 1931-1932 in Heidelberg, Germany studying mineralogy under Victor Goldschmidt (he was Goldschmidt's last American student). He was awarded his M.S. (1934) and PhD (1935) degrees by Harvard, on the basis of his studies on phenakite morphology and paragenesis with Goldschmidt.
Fred taught mineralogy for a while at Harvard, then took a position as Assistant Curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. During the war he worked as a field mineralogist for the Manhattan Project in Brazil in 1941, and served in the Army Signal Corp in 1943. Returning to his post in the American Museum following the war, he was promoted to chairman of the Department of Geology and Mineralogy in 1952. From 1955 to 1964 he was President of Gem Irradiation Laboratories in New York, doing pioneering work on the irradiation of diamonds.
From 1964 to 1967 Fred served as Director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. He then worked as an organizer of mineral-oriented tours for a San Francisco travel agency, and as consulting mineralogist for such companies as Harry Winston and Bulova, and was thereafter self-employed as a consultant under the company name of Mineralogy, Inc.
Fred served as gem expert for Jewelers' Circular-Keystone, contributing editor for Lapidary Journal (since 1945), and a consultant for the Gemmological Association of Japan. He was a Life Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and the Geological Society of America, and an honored member of many other professional organizations. He was awarded the Derby Medal by the Brazilian Geological Survey (1945), a Bronze Medal by the Royal Geographical Society of Belgium (1948), the Chilton Editorial Achievement Award (1972), the Hanneman Award (1988), and the Carnegie Mineralogical Award (1989).
Fred's principal fame as an author rests on his Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals, first published in 1953 and thereafter in numerous subsequent editions, total sales of which have exceeded one million copies. Generations of mineral collectors grew up with this book at their side. Fred also wrote hundreds of popular magazine articles, and numerous articles in technical mineralogy journals; he published the first descriptions of the new minerals brazilianite, mackayite and blakeite. He also supplied the mineralogical, gemological and geological definitions of terms for various dictionaries and encyclopedias, and has even produced educational films.
Fred Pough was a virtual legend in mineralogy and mineral collecting, his name and works universally known. He remained active, energetic and feisty in his old age, traveled and lectured widely, and was attending the Rochester Mineralogical Symposium at the time of his death on April 7, 2006.
GAIT, R.I. (1991) Who's who in mineral names: Frederick H. Pough. Rocks & Minerals, 66, 462-463.
WILSON, W.E. (2006) Notes from the editors: Died, Frederick H. Pough, 99. Mineralogical Record, 37 (3), 197.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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