Louis was born in Louisville, Kentucky on November 13, 1856 to Frederika Dembitz and Adolph Brandeis. Adolph and Frederika, immigrants from Prague, first settled in Indiana where Adolph opened a starch factory. They then moved to Louisville so that Adolph could open the firm Brandeis & Crawford, which specialized in the grain trade.
Louis attended the German and English Academy and the Louisville Male School. In 1872, when he was 16, the Brandeis family moved to Europe for three years. During that time, Louis toured England, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland with his family and studied at the Annen‑Realschule (Anne Secondary School) in Dresden, Germany.
In 1875, Louis entered Harvard Law School. He was not yet 19 years old. At Harvard, he participated in the mock trial club called the Pow Wow Club, he helped found the Harvard Law School Association, and he served as treasurer of the Harvard Law Review. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1890 and received an honorary master’s degree in 1891. At Harvard, Louis met his future law partner, Samuel D. Warren, Jr., and future colleague, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who was a lecturer at the Harvard Law School. 1
back to 1 Pasternack, Susan A. Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis: Guided by the Light of Reason: Commemorating the 150th Birthday of the Late Supreme Court Justice and University Namesake. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University, 2007.