New Mexico State University’s Library recently received a generous gift from the grandson of one of NMSU’s founders. The endowment gift from John Porter Bloom honors John R. McFie’s legacy at the university and will support the Archives and Special Collections department.  

“I am deeply gratified by the decision to accept this endowment recognizing the historic role of John R. McFie,” Bloom said. “My connection with Las Cruces and NMSU is through my mother, who was brought to Las Cruces as a 4-year-old child and grew up here, up to graduation from A&M College in 1903. The endowment here is in tribute to my mother, who was deeply unhappy that her father, after moving from Las Cruces to Santa Fe with his second appointment to the Territorial Supreme Court, was overlooked as a prime mover in establishing the A&M College.”  

Dennis Daily, department head of Archives and Special Collections, said the endowment will provide ongoing funding for the Archives and Special Collections for several important initiatives, including establishing the John R. McFie Gallery of NMSU History, funding a research fellowship in the Archives for NMSU history students, providing student employment and internships in the Archives, acquiring new collections related to New Mexico and border history, and funding lectures on borderlands history.  

“Financial gifts like Mr. Bloom's endowment are essential to the success of NMSU Library and its Archives and Special Collections Department,” said Kevin Comerford, dean of NMSU Library. “This support provides both recognition to an important figure in southern New Mexico history and opportunities to help today’s students succeed. That’s a winning combination for the Las Cruces community, the university and the library.”  

Bloom is known as a public historian and was co-founder and later president of the Western History Association. “During my career, one high point was being at the National Archives in Washington, where I was editor of ‘Territorial Papers of the US.’ I was also designated senior specialist for Western History.”  

McFie served a key role the college’s establishment in Las Cruces in 1888, and his contributions included organizing and presiding over meetings of leading Las Cruces and Mesilla Valley residents, serving as president of the Las Cruces College Board of Trustees, and serving as the first president of the Board of Regents of the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.  

“In 1889, the territorial legislature was moving to establish an agricultural college in New Mexico. On the first day of the legislative session, three bills were introduced to locate the agricultural college either in Albuquerque, Socorro or Las Vegas,” Daily explained. “McFie led a committee of Mesilla Valley residents to argue for setting up the college in Las Cruces. Their efforts paid off in February, when the legislature passed the Rodey Act, establishing the agricultural college at Las Cruces.”  
“When it was time for the College to build its own first building, it was named for my grandfather – and a second building, when the first burned down,” Bloom said. “His reputation statewide for important good works was exemplified when he passed on in 1930, and state flags were placed at half-staff in tribute.”  
McFie was a pioneer lawyer, Supreme Court Judge, and proactive citizen in New Mexico. He founded and was on the board of directors of the Presbyterian Sanitarium in Albuquerque, president of the New Mexico Archaeological Society from its inception until his death and was also president of the Board of Regents of the Museum of New Mexico from its beginning until his death.  
Receiving endowments like these not only provides funding for important work being done at the NMSU Library’s Archives and Special Collections department, it also directly benefits students by giving them access to unique collections for class projects, research, theses and dissertations, as well as experiential learning opportunities through internships and employment.  
“It’s vital for our program to have funds like this to rely on for our efforts in collecting and preserving the primary source documentation of New Mexico and borderland history,” Daily said. We highly value the relationships we build with the community – both folks who are able to support us through financial gifts and those who donate important historical materials to our collections.”  
“On behalf of all the faculty and staff at NMSU Library, I extend our heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Bloom for his transformative gift that contributes to the preservation and enrichment of NMSU’s heritage,” Comerford said. “His support allows us to continue to write the story of NMSU’s past, present, and future.”  
An event to inaugurate the John R. McFie Gallery of NMSU History will take place on the afternoon of Thursday, June 27, in Branson Hall’s 4th floor at the NMSU Library Archives and Special Collections department.

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