Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection Title: Frans Blom Papers,
Date (inclusive): circa 1890-1942
Date (bulk): (bulk 1919-1942)
Collection Number: BANC MSS Z-R 8
Creator: Blom, Frans
Number of containers: 11 cartons, 12 oversize boxes, 6 negative boxes, 5 cardfile boxes, 5 oversize folders, 1 box, 1 volume
(linear feet: 24)
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Abstract: Personal and professional papers of Tulane University archaeologist Frans Blom, founder of the Middle American Research Institute
and authority on Mayan archaeology.
English, Danish, Spanish.
Information for Researchers
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.
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:
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research
and educational purposes.Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition,
the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor
restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected
by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner.
Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
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. See:
[Identification of item], Frans Blom papers, BANC MSS Z-R 8, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
Alternate Forms Available
There are no alternate forms of this collection.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Blom, Frans Ferdinand, 1893-1963--Archives
Blom, Frans Ferdinand, 1893-1963--Diaries
Blom, Frans Ferdinand, 1893-1963--Correspondence
Blom, Frans Ferdinand, 1893-1963--Portraits
Alférez, Enrique, 1901-1999--Drawings
Spratling, William, 1900-1967--Drawings
Ninas, Paul, 1903-1964--Drawings
Gonzalez, Xavier, 1898-1993--Drawings
Tulane University. Middle American Research Institute
John Geddings Gray Memorial Expedition (1928)
John Geddings Gray Memorial Expedition (1928)--Photographs
Indians of Central America--Research
Indians of Central America--Photographs
Indians of Central America--Study and teaching
Indians of Mexico--Research
Indians of Mexico--Photographs
Indians of Mexico--Study and teaching
Archaeology--Research ǂz Central America
Archaeology--Research ǂz Mexico
Petroleum industry and trade--Mexico--Minatitlán (Veracruz-Llave)
Pueblo Bonito Site (N.M.)--Photographs
Veracruz-Llave (Mexico : State)--Photographs
Palenque Site (Mexico)--Photographs
Uxmal Site (Mexico)--Photographs
Manuscripts for publication
No additions are expected.
Processed by Lara Michels in November 2013.
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.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection mostly documents Frans Blom's life and archaeological career from 1919, when he arrived in Mexico for the first
time, to 1942, when he left Tulane University and made Mexico his permanent home. The collection is arranged into series:
1. Middle American Research Institute administrative documents and photographs; 2. Biographical and personal papers and photographs;
3. Correspondence; 4. Expeditions and travels; 5. Writings and research; 6. Writings by others; 7. Transcriptions; 8. Printed
materials; 9. Notes and sketches; and 10. Appointment books and miscellany. See content notes for each series for further