Courtesy of John Porter Bloom.
Reproducing prohibited without express permission from Dr. Bloom.
Bloom, Lansing B.
By Richard Flint and Shirley Cushing
Lansing Bloom's poor health, he had lost a lung due to tuberculosis, brought him to New Mexico. He began life in Auburn, New York, in April 1880. His father was the Richard Hutchinson Bloom. Little is known about his early life, although he apparently periodically suffered health problems. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts, where he earned a B.A. in 1902. Ten years later he received a master's degree from the same college. In between he attended Auburn Theological Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister.
Young Lansing chose to minister through missionary work, first in Utah and then in Mexico. The reasons for his interest in Spanish-speaking areas are not known with certainty. A major influence in that direction, though, undoubtedly came from his wife, Maude E. McFie, the daughter of New Mexico Supreme Court justice John R. McFie. Maude and Lansing were married in 1907, the same year he finished his studies at the seminary. They had four children, only two of whom survived to adulthood, John and Carol.
The Blooms were one of several husband-and-wife professional teams who worked and lived in New Mexico during the early twentieth century, others being Adolph and Joe Bandelier, Edgar and Cora Hewett, and Alfred and Madeleine Kidder. Maude Bloom accompanied her husband on most of the trips he subsequently made and was an active partner in his work of historical research. Her fluency in Spanish was particularly important. It was while the young missionaries Lansing and Maude were in Saltillo, Mexico, that their mutual interest in archival research first displayed itself. They came across and studied records of Spanish colonial era caravans that had supplied the Franciscan missions of New Mexico on a biennial basis.
The duration of the Blooms' intended tenure in Mexico was cut short when Lansing fell seriously ill. For his recuperation, they came to Maude's parents' home in Santa Fe. When Lansing had recovered he returned to missionary work, but now in New Mexico. His first mission post in the state was at Jemez Pueblo. While there, he discovered a cache of old documents in the mission rectory, which again stirred the couple's interest in history.
Through Judge McFie, who was an amateur archaeologist, the Blooms met Edgar Lee Hewett, the former president of New Mexico Normal University in Las Vegas and himself the recent founder of the School of American Archaeology in Santa Fe. Hewett commissioned the Blooms to do small excavations above Jemez Springs. Years later they participated in the excavation of the San José de Jemez Mission and the ancestral Jemez pueblo of Guísewa near the School.
Lansing tried teaching theology at Menaul School in Albuquerque, but was disappointed in the progress of his young Indian students. Abandoning the teaching profession, Lansing became the minister at Magdalena, New Mexico, and occasionally at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe. Then, in 1917, Hewett invited Lansing to join the staff of the School of American Archaeology and Museum of New Mexico, which for years shared the same administration. Lansing left the ministry and devoted himself for the rest of his life to the pursuit of historical research.
During the years immediately following World War I, Bloom was in charge of the Museum's War History Service. As such, he was responsible for compiling the service and biographical records of New Mexico's 16,000 World War I veterans. And he oversaw the distribution of war trophies, cannons for example, to New Mexico towns for public display. Some of his research on New Mexicans in World War I later appeared in the New Mexico Historical Review.
In 1920, Bloom became Associate in History at the School of American Archaeology and director of its department of history, as well as assistant director of the Museum of New Mexico. In the relatively small community of people with interests in history and archaeology, the Blooms became prominent. Lansing was chosen secretary of the already venerable Historical Society of New Mexico. Under the editorship of lawyer and historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell, he served as associate editor of the short-lived magazine of history Old Santa Fe.
Bloom joined the burgeoning faculty of the University of New Mexico in 1929, becoming an associate professor of history. While at UNM he taught courses on Spain, Western Europe, Latin America, Mexico, New Mexico, and the Southwest. In 1926, he had taken on the job of editing the newly founded New Mexico Historical Review, a post he was to hold for the next 20 years, with Paul A.F. Walter as managing editor. Bloom's tenure at UNM coincided with the presidency of James F. Zimmerman, a period that witnessed a dramatic increase in the university's size and prestige.
As editor of the Review, Bloom contributed no less than 40 articles to the quarterly publication himself. Among his many contributions was his attempt to shed new light on a long-standing controversy among Southwestern historians: Whether, in 1539, fray Marcos de Niza had actually reached what became New Mexico or whether, on the contrary, he had lied about that in his written report to the Spanish viceroy. Three then-active scholars, Carl Sauer, Cleve Hallenbeck, and Henry R. Wagner, insisted that the friar had lied because the trip he had reported would have been impossible to make in the time he said it took. Meanwhile, Bloom protested that the three had not proven their case and that "a man is innocent until he is proven guilty." That did not settle the issue, and it remains in doubt still today, although our own recent work suggests that fray Marcos did, in fact, lie on this point.
Between 1933 and 1938 Bloom edited and published in the Review a thirteen-part series of lengthy excerpts from Capt. John G. Bourke's notebooks recording his observations during army service in New Mexico and elsewhere in the Southwest from 1869 to 1896. Although he was an army officer, Bourke was also a respected ethnologist and his notes about Native American cultures especially interested Bloom.
Beginning in the 1920s and continuing through the remainder of his life, Lansing and Maude made numerous research trips to archives in Spain and Mexico, seeking manuscript documents relevant to New Mexico's history. In 1928-29 Lansing resided in Sevilla, Spain, home of the great Archivo General de Indias (AGI), the largest repository of administrative documents produced during Spain's 300-year colonial rule over much of the Americas. Maude had returned to New Mexico with their son John. Officially, Lansing was there as New Mexico's commissioner to the Iberoamerican Exposition that was held in Sevilla in 1929. As such, he attended the elaborate ceremonies that opened the Expo on May 10, 1929. There was a grand parade, and the Spanish king addressed the multitude of locals and foreign tourists and dignitaries.
While in Spain, Bloom sifted diligently through the collections of the AGI. Among the many papers he located and photographed were the 1788 diary of Pedro Vial, including a map from Santa Fe to Nachitoches, and records of the encomienda of Diego de Vargas. He also visited other Spanish archives, including especially the Archivo General de Simancas, the library of the Escorial palace, and the Archivo Histórico Nacional. As Lansing himself later characterized his and Maude's work, the two continued and extended the earlier research of Adolph Bandelier and his second wife Fanny at the AGI, which had ended in 1914. The Blooms managed to search sections of the AGI that had rarely been looked at previously by North American scholars. Material identified by the Blooms was later microfilmed for the Library of Congress.
The year after the Sevilla Expo, 1930, found the Blooms in Mexico City, doing research in the massive Archivo General de la Nación. There they had photographs made of about 18,000 manuscript pages, which they brought back with them to New Mexico. In 1934, Lansing and Maude were once again in Mexico, this time visiting smaller archives. As the four-hundredth anniversary of the Coronado expedition approached, the Blooms returned to Europe with the express purpose of locating documents about the 1539-1542 entrada to New Mexico, which had come in search of the Cities of Cíbola. Of his research in Sevilla, Lansing wrote: "Ten years ago Mrs. Bloom and I limited ourselves pretty closely to the 17th century; now I am covering the entire range of our Spanish period and also a broader background. The 16th century papers are rather heavy going but they are fascinating--and I am looking for Coronado material."
During the same trip the Blooms also went to archives in France and Italy, including the Vatican Library. At the Vatican they located 300 illustrations prepared by Adolph Bandelier to accompany his manuscript volume "History of the colonization and missions of Sonora, Chihuahua, New Mexico, and Arizona to the year 1700." That lavishly illustrated manuscript, written in French, had been presented to Pope Leo XIII on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee in 1887. Unfortunately, the hundreds of drawings and paintings made by Bandelier and located by the Blooms remain unpublished. In all, the Blooms brought back some 30,000 frames of microfilm from this second extended stay in Spain, with side trips to other European archives. Many of the photographic copies made at Lansing and Maude's request were bound into 675 volumes now housed at the Center for Southwest Research in the University of New Mexico's Zimmerman Library.
Throughout this period, Lansing continued to edit the New Mexico Historical Review and to serve as secretary of the Historical Society of New Mexico. He had been elected to the Managing Board of the School of American Research in 1928 and served as the president of the Southwest and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1927-28.Lansing's 1929 master's thesis was published under the title "New Mexico under the Mexican Administration."
In 1933 he coauthored with Thomas C. Donnelly a long-used high school testbook "New Mexico History and Civics. "In 1945 he retired as associate professor of history at UNM. Bloom, always nursing a fragile constitution, died on Valentine's Day 1946, within the same year as his boss at the School of American Research and Museum of New Mexico, Edgar Lee Hewett. Bloom's funeral was held at the Scottish Rite Temple in Santa Fe, and he was buried at Fairview Cemetery there. Virtually every student of New Mexico history owes a considerable debt to Lansing and Maude Bloom, for their indefatigable research of the 1920s and 30s.
Bloom, Lansing B. "News Notes." New Mexico Historical Review 14(1) (January 1939):115-20.
Bloom, Lansing B. "Was Fray Marcos a Liar?" New Mexico Historical Review 16(2) (April 1941):244-46.
Chauvenet, Beatrice. Hewett and Friends: A Biography of Santa Fe's Vibrant Era. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press, 1983.
"Epilogue, Lansing Bartlett Bloom." New Mexico Historical Review 21(2) (April 1946):110-13.
Flint, Richard and Shirley Cushing Flint, eds. and trs. Documents of the Coronado Expedition, 1539-1542: "They Were Not familiar with His Majesty, nor Did They Wish to Be His Subjects. Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 2005.
Hewett, Edgar Lee. "Lansing Bartlett Bloom." New Mexico Historical Review 21(2) (April 1946):98-99.
Scholes, France V. "Research Activities of Lansing B. Bloom in Foreign Archives." New Mexico Historical Review 21(2) (April 1946):100-09.
Walter, Paul A.F. "Lansing Bartlett Bloom." New Mexico Historical Review 21(2) (April 1946):93-97.
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