Bloom, Robert L., 1878-1974

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Robert Bloom (1879-1974), born in Lithuania and Jessie Bloom (1897-1980), born in Ireland, were married in Seattle in 1913 and subsequently made their home in Fairbanks, where Robert Bloom had operated a general store since 1904. During their life in Fairbanks Robert helped found the University of Alaska, promoted agriculture in the Interior, particularily wheat, and became a partner in a flying service. Jessie became the first kindergarten teacher in Fairbanks and helped establish the first Girl Scout camp in the area.

From the description of Robert and Jessie Bloom papers, 1898-1975. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 42064970

Robert and Jessie Bloom were married for over 60 years. For most of those years, they lived and worked together in Alaska as 20th century pioneers on the final frontier of the United States.

Robert L. Bloom was born in Siaulie, Lithuania on October 15, 1878. At the age of eight his family moved to Dublin, Ireland and, in 1897, he came to Alaska in search of gold. Robert had little success as a prospector, so he moved to Seattle, Washington to earn enough money to be able to return to Alaska. In 1904 he did return. He settled in Fairbanks, and using the supplies he had brought with him from Seattle opened a hardware and general merchandise store.

Jessie S. Bloom was born in Dublin, Ireland to Leon and Olga (Kopelansky) Spiro on December 17, 1887. She spent her childhood in Dublin but left there when she was 21 to go to London, England to work as a secretary. While in London Jessie became involved in the growing women's suffrage movement, joining the Women's Freedom League in 1909, and working for passage of a suffrage law by selling pro-suffrage newspapers and attending rallies.

Robert and Jessie came together in 1910, in Dublin, when both, coincidentally, were vacationing there. In 1912, Robert and Jessie, who were also second cousins, were married in London. Shortly afterwards they moved to Alaska.

The transition from England to Alaska was not unpleasant for Jessie and they soon began their pioneer life together, working on the development and settling of Alaska.

Robert was involved in many activities. He was a charter member of Igloo No. 4, Pioneers of Alaska, a fraternal organization. He was a member of an advisory group that helped establish an Air Force base in Alaska and was a founder of what was later to become the University of Alaska. serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of the U.A.'s forerunner, the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines from 1921 t0 1925.

Jessie, too, became involved in a number of activities. Two of her major accomplishments were the establishment in 1918 of the first kindergarten in the city of Fairbanks and the formation in 1926 of the first Girl Scout troop in Alaska. Today, the Girl Scout training center in Fairbanks is named in her honor.

Together, the Blooms were co-founders of the Fairbanks Airplane Company and in 1925 Jessie became one of the first women in Alaska ever to ride in an airplane. Robert and Jessie were also very active in conservation efforts in Alaska, supporting efforts to set aside lands for wilderness preserves and opposing efforts such as the Alaskan oil pipeline, which they felt posed a serious threat to Alaska's natural environment. Finally, the Blooms were very active in establishing and promoting the Jewish community in Alaska. Robert served as chairman of Alaska's Jewish Welfare Board and together they served as unofficial chaplains for Jewish servicemen stationed in Alaska during World War II.

The Blooms also raised a family in Alaska. They had four daughters: Dr. Olga Bloom Backer, Dr. Deborah Kaplan, Meta Buttnick, and Ruth Ibbetson.

Robert and Jessie moved to Seattle to retire. Robert died there in April 1974 at the age of 95. Jessie remained in Seattle, in continual close contact with the friends, activities, and causes she had left behind in Alaska until her death in December 1980 at the age of 92.

From the guide to the Robert and Jessie Bloom Papers, 1897-1980., (The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn American Jewish Archives. American Jewish Archives Collection, 1889-1980. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
referencedIn Buttnick, Meta Bloom, 1913-. Oral history interview with Meta Bloom Buttnick, Dec. 10, 1984. University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf Robert and Jessie Bloom Papers, 1897-1980. The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives
creatorOf Bloom, Robert, 1879-1972. Robert and Jessie Bloom papers, 1898-1975. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Elmer E. Rasmuson Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Adams, Brock person
associatedWith Adelaide Outdoor Club corporateBody
correspondedWith American Israel Public Affairs Committee corporateBody
associatedWith American Jewish Archives. corporateBody
correspondedWith Bernstein, Philip S. person
associatedWith Bernstein, Philip S. (Philip Sydney), 1901-1985 person
associatedWith Bloom, Jessie person
associatedWith Bloom, Jessie, 1897-1980. person
associatedWith Bloom, Jessie S., 1887-1980 person
correspondedWith Bloom, Robert person
associatedWith Buttnick, Meta Bloom, 1913- person
correspondedWith Carter, Jimmy person
correspondedWith CBS, Inc. corporateBody
correspondedWith Clarke, Irving person
correspondedWith Ervin, Sam J. person
correspondedWith Farthest North Girl Scout Council corporateBody
correspondedWith Fulbright, J. William person
correspondedWith Gruening, Ernest person
correspondedWith Harman, Avraham and Zena person
correspondedWith Interior Department corporateBody
correspondedWith Jackson, Henry M. person
correspondedWith Jerusalem Mental Health Center corporateBody
correspondedWith Jewish Consumptives' Relief Society corporateBody
correspondedWith League of Women Voters corporateBody
correspondedWith Lowell, Ted and Babe person
correspondedWith Magnuson, Warren G. person
correspondedWith Marcus, Jacob R. person
correspondedWith McGovern, George person
associatedWith Moore, Mable. person
correspondedWith National Jewish Welfare Board corporateBody
correspondedWith Nordale, Katherine person
correspondedWith Percy, Charles H. person
correspondedWith Sandrow, Edward T. person
correspondedWith Stevens, Ted person
correspondedWith Udall, Morris K. person
correspondedWith United Jewish Appeal corporateBody
correspondedWith United Nations Association corporateBody
correspondedWith University of Alaska corporateBody
associatedWith University of Alaska (College) corporateBody
correspondedWith Weizmann Institute of Science corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Girl Scouts--Sources
World War, 1939-1945
Photograph collections
Autobiographies--Women authors
Jewish women--Diaries
Jewish women--Alaska
Jewish way of life


Birth 1878

Death 1974



Ark ID: w6x0859b

SNAC ID: 2999628