Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid to the Frans Blom papers, circa 1890-1942 (bulk 1919-1942)
BANC MSS Z-R 8  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (101.92 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Overview
 
Table of contents What's This?
Description
Personal and professional papers of Tulane University archaeologist Frans Blom, founder of the Middle American Research Institute and authority on Mayan archaeology.
Background
Frans Blom (1893-1963) was a Danish-born archaeologist and explorer and head of Tulane University's Middle American Research Institute (formerly the Department of Middle American Research) from 1926 to 1940. Having dropped out of the University of Copenhagen, Blom first arrived in Mexico in 1919 and, after some effort, managed to find work scouting abandoned oil wells in the Mexican oil industry (mostly in Minatitlán, Veracruz). During these years, Blom travelled extensively throughout remote areas of Veracruz, Chiapas, and Tabasco, documenting in his journals (in Danish) a developing passion for Mayan archaeology (a version of these journals was published in Danish in 1923). In 1922, Blom found work with the Dirección de Antropología in Mexico City. He spent the end of 1922 and 1923 exploring and documenting the state of the ruins in Palenque. These experiences led to admission to the Master's program in archaeology at Harvard University (which he completed in 1924). During his training, Blom worked in Uaxactun in the Petén area of Guatemala and participated in the excavations of Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico. Soon after completing his Master's, Blom took a position at the Department of Middle American Research at Tulane University. In 1926, Blom became director of the department. The department undertook expeditions throughout the last half of the 1920s and the 1930s, including the John Geddings Gray Memorial Expedition to Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala and the 1930 expedition to Uxmal in preparation for building a replica of the Uxmal Nunnery at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. While in New Orleans, Blom forged connections to local bohemians and artists such as Enrique Alferez and William P. Spratling. At the age of thirty nine, Blom married Mary S. Thomas, a woman he met in 1932 while hosting an excursion to Mexico. Mary Thomas was the daughter and heir to Lillian Sefton Thomas and Vincent B. Thomas, presidents of the Harriet Hubbard Ayer cosmetics corporation. This marriage ended in 1938. Blom struggled professionally and personally (with alcoholism) during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He left Tulane in 1941 and moved to Mexico around 1942. There he married Swiss photographer Gertrude “Trudi” Duby (1901-1993), who had also recently moved to Mexico and had a passion for the Lacandón Indians of Chiapas. In 1950, the couple purchased a house in San Cristobal, Chiapas, which they named Casa Na Bolom (House of the Jaguar). During the next thirteen years, Frans and Trudi worked to make their house into a center for scholars researching Chiapas and Guatemala. Trudi carried on with this venture in the years after Frans Blom's death in 1963. Today, Casa Na Bolom is a museum, hotel, and restaurant.
Extent
Number of containers: 11 cartons, 12 oversize boxes, 6 negative boxes, 5 cardfile boxes, 5 oversize folders, 1 box, 1 volume (linear feet: 24)
Restrictions
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.
Availability
Collection is open for research with the exception of the NITRATE NEGATIVES IN NEGATIVE BOXES 1-6 AND VOLUME 1, WHICH ARE CLOSED TO RESEARCH DUE TO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RESTRICTIONS.