Robert and Jessie Bloom: Jewish Pioneer Couple of Fairbanks, Alaska

Robert and Jessie Bloom

Robert Bloom of Fairbanks, Alaska

Robert Bloom of Fairbanks, Alaska

Values Codes I – E – L – P


Robert Bloom was born in 1878 in Siaulie, Lithuania.

Jessie Spiro Bloom was born in 1887 in Dublin, Ireland.


Along the way

In 1895, Robert Bloom,after nine years in Dublin, Ireland, arrived at Ellis Island, in New York Harbor, at the age of 17.

Robert Bloom journeyed to Dawson, Yukon Territory in 1898.

There he worked as a peddler and a prospector.

In 1903, Robert Bloom headed to Fairbanks, Alaska, following the 1902 Gold Rush.

In 1905, Robert Bloom opened a mercantile store in Cleary.

In 1906, he opened a hardware store on Front Street in Fairbanks.

This store remained there until 1942.

Robert Bloom closed his store every year for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Jessie Bloom of Fairbanks, Alaska

Jessie Bloom of Fairbanks, Alaska

In 1921, Robert and Jessie Bloom founded  the Fairbanks Aeroplane Company.

Robert and Jesse eventually retired to Seattle, Washington.



Robert Bloom helped establish the Air Force base in Alaska.

He also was a founder of the University of Alaska.

In 1925, Jessie Bloom established the first Girl Scout chapter in Alaska.

To this day, Camp Jessie Bloom (founded in 1926) in Fairbanks bears her name.

Jessie Bloom also founded the first kindergarten in Fairbanks, in 1918.

Robert and Jessie Bloom were environmentalists who opposed, among other measures, the Alaska oil pipeline.



Robert Bloom was an active participant in the Jewish communities in Dawson and Fairbanks.

In 1900, he officiated at the first Jewish funeral, for a man who drowned in the Fortymile River.

Robert Bloom also served as chairman of the Jewish Welfare Board.

Robert and Jessie Bloom opened their home to servicemen during World War II for religious services and Passover Seders.



Robert Bloom was a Charter Member of the Pioneers of Alaska, Igloo No. 4.



Robert Bloom and Jessie Spiro (b.1887), met in 1910, in Dublin, Ireland when both were vacationing there.

Robert & Jessie Bloom of Fairbanks, Alaska, 1943

Robert & Jessie Bloom of Fairbanks, Alaska, 1943, #WS0438.

In 1912, Robert and Jessie, who were also second cousins, were married in London.

They had four daughters: Meta Buttnick (1913-2012), Dr. Deborah Kaplan (b.1914), Dr. Olga Bloom Backer (b.1917) and Ruth Ibbetson (b.1918).

Meta Bloom Buttnick was a regular contributor to Western States Jewish Historythe journal of the parent organization of Jewish Museum of the American West.


Robert Bloom died, in 1974.

Jessie Spiro Bloom died, in 1980.



Samantha Silver is curator of this Robert and Jessie Bloom exhibit.