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Finding Aid to the Frans Blom papers, circa 1890-1942 (bulk 1919-1942)
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    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
    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)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    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.
    Languages Represented: English, Danish, Spanish.

    Information for Researchers



    Publication Rights

    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. 
    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: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html .

    Preferred Citation

    [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.

    Indexing Terms

    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
    Archaeology--Central America--Photographs
    Olmecs--Research--Central America
    Mayas--Research--Central America
    Corridos--Mexico--Oaxaca (State)
    Petroleum industry and trade--Mexico--Minatitlán (Veracruz-Llave)
    Artists--Louisiana--New Orleans.
    Pueblo Bonito Site (N.M.)--Photographs
    Veracruz-Llave (Mexico : State)--Photographs
    Chiapas (Mexico)--Photographs
    Palenque Site (Mexico)--Photographs
    Uxmal Site (Mexico)--Photographs
    Field notes
    Manuscripts for publication
    Film negatives

    Administrative Information


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lara Michels in November 2013.

    Biographical Information

    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 Alférez 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 details.