Bloomfield, Leonard, 1887-1949

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American linguist Leonard Bloomfield pioneered the development of structural linguistics in the United States during the 1930s and the 1940s. He wrote extensively and his renowned mid-career textbook, Language, presented a comprehensive description of American structural linguistics. He made significant contributions to Indo-European historical linguistics, the description of Austronesian languages, and description of languages of the Algonquian family.

From the guide to the Leonard Bloomfield notebooks, 1925, (American Philosophical Society)

Leonard Bloomfield was born on April 1, 1887 in Chicago. Bloomfield attended from Harvard University (B.A.1906), the University of Wisconsin (1906-08), the University of Chicago (Ph.D 1909), the University of Leipzig (1913-14), and the University of Göttingen (1914).

Bloomfield was an instructor of German at the University of Cincinnati from 1909 to 1910 and at the University of Illinois from 1910 to 1913. He was an Assistant Professor for comparative linguistics and German at the University of Illinois from 1913 10 1921, and an Assistant Professor of German at Ohio State University, Columbus from 1921 to 1927. He was professor at the University of Chicago from 1927 to 1940. At Chicago, he became Chairman of the Department of Linguistics, which was started in 1933. He became Professor of Germanic Philology and Acting Chairman of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures. In 1940 he resigned from the department and left for Yale, where he had been offered a Sterling Professorship in Linguistics.

His specialty for years was Germanic languages, but later he became interested in languages from a scientific viewpoint. With Edward Sapir, Bloom can be considered one of the two most prominent American linguists of the first half of the twentieth century. In 1914 he wrote Introduction to the Study of Language, which was in later editions just called Language (1933). The book became the standard introduction to linguistics for thirty years. With his students, particularly Bernard Bloch, Zellig Harris, and Charles Hockett, Bloomfield established the school of thought that has come to be known as American structural linguistics, which dominated the field until the1960s.

Bloomfield helped to start the Linguistic Society of America in 1924, and served as its president in 1935. He was a member of the International Committee of Linguists.

His other works include Tagalog Texts With Grammatical Analysis (1917), Menomini Texts (1928), Sacred Stories of the Sweetgrass Cree (1930), Plains Cree Texts (1934), The Stressed Vowels of American English (1935), Linguistic Aspects of Science (1939), Spoken Dutch (1945), and Spoken Russian (1945).

Bloomfield married Alice Sayers in 1909. The couple had two sons.

Leonard Bloomfield died on April 18, 1949 in New Haven, Connecticut.

From the guide to the Bloomfield, Leonard. Papers, 1935-1943, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Bloomfield, Leonard, 1887-1949. Papers, 1935-1943. University of Chicago Library
creatorOf Bloomfield, Leonard. Papers, 1935-1943 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
creatorOf Leonard Bloomfield notebooks, 1925 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn C. F. Voegelin Papers, 1934-1970 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn American Council of Learned Societies. Correspondence, 1926-1927. American Philosophical Society Library
referencedIn American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages, American Philosophical Society, 1882-1958 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Kotnik, Bertrand. Bertrand Kotnik notebook, 1975. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Bloomfield, Leonard, 1887-1949. Leonard Bloomfield papers, 1909-1950 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Bloomfield, Leonard, 1887-1949. [Menomini tribe linguistic research materials] University of Kansas Archives / MSS / Rare Books, Kenneth Spencer Research Library
creatorOf American Council of Learned Societies correspondence, 1926-1927, 1926-1927 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Wisconsin Native American Languages Project. Wisconsin Native American Languages Project records, 1973-1976. University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, UWM Libraries
creatorOf Bloomfield, Leonard, 1887-1949. Correspondence with Harold Hersey, 1916. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Voegelin, C. F. (Charles Frederick), 1906-1986. Papers, 1836-1968. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Leonard Bloomfield papers, 1909-1950 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Menomini tribe linguistic research materials, ca. 1960-1970 University of Kansas Kenneth Spencer Research Library Kanas Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Council of Learned Societies. corporateBody
associatedWith American Council of Learned Societies. Committee on Native American Languages. corporateBody
associatedWith Armstrong, E. C., (Edward Cooke), 1871-1944 person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 person
associatedWith Bryan, R. W., (Ronald W.) person
associatedWith Cattell, James McKeen, 1860-1944 person
associatedWith Haskins, Charles Homer, 1870-1937 person
associatedWith Hewitt, Joseph William, 1875-1938 person
associatedWith Jacobs, Melville, 1902-1971 person
associatedWith Keat, Roland G. person
associatedWith Kotnik, Bertrand. person
associatedWith Kroeber, A. L., (Alfred Louis), 1876-1960 person
associatedWith Leland, Waldo Gifford, 1879-1966 person
associatedWith Lester, Robert M., (Robert MacDonald), 1889-1969 person
associatedWith Li, Fang-kuei, 1902- person
associatedWith Morice, A. G., (Adrien Gabriel), 1859-1938 person
associatedWith Oldfather, William Abbott, 1880-1945 person
associatedWith Reichard, Gladys Amanda, 1893-1955 person
associatedWith Sapir, Edward, 1884-1939 person
associatedWith Sturtevant, Edgar H., (Edgar Howard), 1875-1952 person
associatedWith Swanton, John Reed, 1873-1958 person
associatedWith Voegelin, C. F. (Charles Frederick), 1906-1986. person
associatedWith Willcox, Walter Francis, 1861-1964 person
associatedWith Wisconsin Native American Languages Project. corporateBody
associatedWith Yale University corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Anthropological linguistics--America
Burmese language
Literature--History and criticism
Reading--Study and teaching
Indians of North America--Languages
Cree language


Birth 1887-04-01

Death 1949-04-18



Algonquian languages



Ark ID: w6bc4d40

SNAC ID: 6217276