Jewish Women on the Map - Farthest North Girl Scout Council, est. Jessie Bloom, 1925
Jessie S. Bloom was born in Dublin, Ireland to Leon and Olga (Kopelansky) Spiro in 1887. Bloom moved to London, England when she was twenty-one, where she worked as a secretary. While in London, Bloom 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 attending rallies. Bloom married Robert Blum in 1912, and soon afterward the couple moved to Alaska. There, the couple worked to create a rich community of fellow pioneers. Among Jessie Bloom’s accomplishments were the 1918 establishment of the first kindergarten in the city of Fairbanks, and the 1925 formation of Alaska’s first Girl Scout Troop. The Girl Scout training center is named in her honor, and the annual summer camp is still called Camp Jessie Bloom. Robert and Jessie also participated in conservation efforts in Alaska, supporting campaigns to set aside wildlife preserves and opposing attempts—such as the Alaskan oil pipeline plan—that they felt posed a threat to Alaska’s natural environment. Additionally, the couple played an active role in establishing and fortifying Alaska’s Jewish community. Bloom returned to Dublin a number of times, and it was during one visit at the start of World War One that, fearing for her safety, she formally became an American citizen. In 1935, she and her husband spent two years in Seattle, and in 1937, they again returned to Dublin, where they stayed for nine years. Following World War Two, the family—Bloom, her husband, and their four children—finally settled in Seattle.
To access the Robert and Jessie Bloom papers, view the complete collection through the Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives.