Leonard Bloom/Leonard Broom

Name Leonard Broom
Born November 8 1911
Died November 19 2009
Birth Location Boston, Mass.

Leonard Broom (aka Leonard Bloom), professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and other institutions, was an early scholar of Japanese Americans who studied the economic costs of wartime removal to the Japanese community and the impact on its members' family life.

Early Life and Career

Leonard Bloom was born in Boston, the second of two sons of Benjamin and Mildred Bloom. He grew up in Boston's Jewish community. He completed bachelor's and master's degrees at Boston University, and then obtained a PhD in sociology from Duke University in 1937. His PhD dissertation, on the development of Native Americans in the South, was entitled "The Acculturation of the Eastern Cherokee." Bloom held short-term appointments at Clemson University (1937–38) and Kent State University (1938–41). In 1940, while at Kent State, he married Gretchan Cooke. The couple had two children, Karl and Dorothy.

From the outset of his career, Broom had a strong research interest in social differentiation and stratification, and in the impact of government policies on diverse ethnic and racial minorities. While he did not publish his dissertation, he spun off from it several articles on Native Americans. Meanwhile, he contributed a chapter, "The American Scene: The Jews of Buna," to a 1941 anthology, Jews in a Gentile World . It discussed the social and economic integration of the Jewish minority in a midwestern town based on Akron, Ohio.

In fall 1941, Bloom was hired for a tenure-track appointment at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He was only the second sociologist appointed to UCLA's newly established department of sociology and anthropology. Soon after Bloom arrived at UCLA, his Japanese American students were forced to leave the school and were rounded up by the army under Executive Order 9066 .

Work on Japanese Americans

Bloom was struck by the visible impact of mass confinement on the lives of his Japanese American students. He decided to launch a longitudinal study of how Japanese American family life had been impacted by the "evacuation." In mid-1942, Bloom began work with a graduate researcher, Ruth Riemer, on interviews of inmates, which he combined with statistical data compiled through various sources. One notable product was Bloom's article, "Familial Adjustments of Japanese-Americans to Relocation: First Phase," which appeared in the American Sociological Review in mid-1943. It was one of the earliest scholarly works on the impact of confinement on Japanese Americans, and in particular the shift in family dynamics caused by Nisei children spending their days and mealtimes separate from their family groups.

He and Riemer continued their research through 1945. The next collaboration between the two was a quantitative work, the pamphlet "Marriages of Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles County: A Statistical Study" (1945) (co-written with Carol F. Creedon) that was published by UCLA in January 1945. He later published a second pamphlet, "A Controlled Attitude-Tension Survey," based on his 1945 survey of residents of Los Angeles regarding public opinion over Japanese Americans.

In addition to taking up research on Japanese Americans, Bloom became an early supporter of equal rights and a critic of government policy. In November 1942, he published a letter in the newly-founded newspaper Heart Mountain Sentinel , offering good wishes for the success of the publication. In June 1944, at the time of public debate over admission of returning Nisei students to West Coast campuses, Bloom participated in a radio panel discussion on KOX radio in Los Angeles. Bloom declared that he had done a survey of Los Angeles area college students, and that they overwhelmingly supported the rights of Japanese Americans to return to the Pacific coast: only 14 percent of students surveyed were opposed to such return. In the early postwar period, he published articles supporting justice for Japanese Americans in such liberal magazines as The Nation and The Christian Century .

Bloom's support for Japanese Americans, as well as his involvement with such left-wing institutions as the People's Education Center and the Writers Congress, brought him the unwelcome attention of the State of California's Joint Fact-Finding Committee on Un-American Activities (aka the Tenney Committee ) in 1945. Along with other UCLA faculty members, he was called to testify before the committee in January 1946.

In the months following the war, Bloom served as an advisor to the JACL on evacuation claims. On May 29, 1947, he testified before a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. While he admitted that there was no way to properly compensate Japanese Americans for their loss of freedom and their suffering, he argued that the least the government could do was to indemnify them for their losses. He also suggested tentatively that it might be less expensive if lump-sum payments were substituted for the involved and costly claims procedure. Despite his advocacy, he later criticized the 1948 Japanese American Evacuation Claims act as inadequate in its provisions.

It was in line with his activism encouraging restitution for property losses that Bloom and Reimer published a book-length study, Removal and Return: The Socio-economic Effects of the War on Japanese Americans . It appeared with the University of California Press in 1949. Using information from a survey conducted in 1947 of 206 Japanese American families, most of whom were living in a trailer court in Long Beach, California, the work estimated Japanese American income and property losses at $367 million (based on 1942 property values and 1941 income levels). Bloom and Riemer offered their findings as a basis for developing methods by which the government could settle claims.

During this period, Bloom pursued his multiyear project on Japanese American families, and received a Social Science Research Council Fellowship to help fund it. At some point Ruth Riemer withdrew from the project and a Nisei graduate student, John I. Kitsuse, began work on it. Meanwhile, it shifted from a large-scale statistical analysis to a more qualitative study. The project eventually came to fruition as the 1956 book The Managed Casualty: The Japanese-American Family in World War II . After an introductory section that describes the social and cultural background of Japanese Americans and recounts the wartime events, The Managed Casualty is comprised of a series of ten case studies of the impact over time of mass removal and confinement on selected families.

Later Career

By the time that The Managed Casualty was in print, its lead author had undergone a significant evolution. First, in around 1950 or 1951, he changed his name from Leonard Bloom to Leonard Broom. It is not clear whether he made this change primarily to avoid stigmatization for being Jewish, or to distance himself from his past political associations in response to the anticommunist hysteria of the early McCarthy era, or for other reasons. Whatever the case, he moved his focus from Japanese Americans to a larger concentration on questions of inequality, and on the treatment of minority and aboriginal peoples. In 1950–51 Broom spent eight months in Jamaica and the British West Indies on a Fulbright Fellowship studying problems of urbanization and ethnic pluralism. In 1952, he spent a term at the University of British Columbia. In 1953–54, he was awarded a faculty fellowship from the Ford Foundation Fund for the Advancement of Education to spend the fall semester studying the racial situation in the deep South, and the spring semester in the Hawaiian Islands. In 1958, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for research study in Australia. During these same years, he served as chair of his department at UCLA, served a two-year stint as editor of the American Sociological Review , and produced the books Cherokee Dance and Drama (with Frank G. Speck and Will West Long) and the textbook Sociology: A Text with Adapted Readings (1955, with Phillip Selznick). This volume was one of the first sociology textbooks, and it remained a dominant text in the field for many years.

In 1959, Broom was recruited by the University of Texas-Austin as chair of their Sociology Department, a position he held from 1959–66. While on the faculty at the University of Texas, he recruited numerous new faculty members, and founded the Population Research Center. In 1971, Broom moved to Australia and was named professor of sociology in the Institute of Advanced Studies at The Australian National University, emeritus professor there from 1977, and honorary fellow from 1977–79. During this period, he continued to produce a variety of scholarship. Broom's 1965 book, Transformation of the Negro American , cowritten with Norval Glenn, was a study of civil rights and the question of equality. The 1977 book Opportunity and Attainment in Australia (co-written with F. Lancaster Jones) investigates patterns of social inequality, as they existed in Australia in the mid-1960s. Broom also was an author of the joint study The Inheritance of Inequality (1983), which treated aspects of the question of social stratification and mobility. Following Broom's death, The Leonard and Gretchan Broom Center for Demography was established as an interdisciplinary research center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2011, on the eve of Broom's 100th birthday.

Although Broom's earlier studies on Japanese Americans were republished by UC Press in the 1970s, amid renewed public interest in the wartime confinement, Broom ceased publishing on the subject after the mid-1950s, and does not seem to have kept close ties with Japanese communities in his later years. Nevertheless, his works remain frequently cited in more recent scholarship.

Authored by Greg Robinson , Université du Québec À Montréal

For More Information

Bloom, Leonard, and Ruth Riemer. Removal and Return . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1949.

Broom, Leonard, and John I. Kitsuse. The Managed Casualty: The Japanese-American Family in World War II . Berkeley: University of California Press, 1956.

Robinson, Greg. "Leonard Broom (AKA Leonard Bloom): Scholar/Activist and Defender of Japanese Americans." Discover Nikkei , May 28-29, 2020.

Articles by Broom on Japanese Americans

[Note: all the articles below with the exception of the last were published under the name "Leonard Bloom."]

"Familial Problems and the Japanese Removal." Research Studies, State College of Washington 11.1 (1943): 21–26.

"Familial Adjustment of Japanese-Americans to Relocation: First Phase." American Sociological Review 8.5 (Oct. 1943): 551-60.

"Prisonization and the WRA Camps." Research Studies, State College of Washington 12.1 (1944): 29–34.

"Marriages of Japanese-Americans in Los Angeles County: A Statistical Study." University of California Publications in Culture and Society 1.1 (1945): 1–24. [co-authored with Ruth Riemer and Carol Creedon]

"Attitudes of College Students Toward Japanese-Americans." Socioetry 8.2 (May 1945): 157–73. [co-authored with Ruth Riemer]

"Building New Communities during War Time: Discussion." American Sociological Review 11.4 (Aug. 1946): 409–10. [Bloom's commentary on an article by John H. Province and Solon T. Kimball.]

"Transitional Adjustment of Japanese-American Families to Relocation." American Sociological Review 12.2 (Apr. 1947): 201-09.

"A Controlled Attitude-Tension Survey." University of California Publications in Culture and Society 1.2 (1948): 25-48.

"The Validation of Acculturation: A Condition to Ethnic Assimilation." American Anthropologist 57.1 (Feb. 1955): 44–48. [co-authored with John I. Kitsuse]

Book Reviews

Prejudice, Japanese-Americans: Symbol of Racial Intolerance by Carey McWilliams, American Sociological Review 10.2 (Apr. 1945): 313–14. Correction in American Sociological Review 10.3 (June 1945): 432.

The Governing of Men by Alexander H. Leighton, American Sociological Review 10.6 (Dec. 1945): 816–17.

Boy from Nebraska: The Story of Ben Kuroki by Ralph G. Martin, Pacific Historical Review 16.1 (Feb. 1947): 106–07.

Americans from Japan by Bradford Smith, Pacific Historical Review 18.1 (Feb. 1949): 136–37.

The Canadian Japanese and World War II: A Sociological and Psychological Account by Forrest E. LaViolette , Pacific Historical Review 18.2 (May 1949): 270–71.

Last updated Dec. 12, 2023, 7:26 p.m..