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.
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.
From 1917 to 1946, Lansing Bloom was a key figure in the discovery of new information about New Mexico's past which he disseminated as editor of the New Mexico Historical Review.