Bruce Family Collection
Dates:  1897-2006
Accession Number: 20070101A
Donor Susan Van Horn
Description:  Twenty-two file folders in a document case
                        37 photographs


Edwin Bruce and Blanche (Canfield) Bruce were married on September 2, 1903 in Oregon.  Edwin was a professor of chemistry for nearly 40 years at Indiana State Teachers College and Blanche was an accomplished artist and interior decorator.  The couple had two children. 

Edwin Morris Bruce was born in Thorntown (Boone County), Indiana in 1866 to James and Mary (Morris) Bruce.  His great-grandfather, William Bruce, fought at Fort Harrison with General William Henry Harrison and at the Battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811 and founded the town of Bruceville in Knox County, Indiana.

Circa 1870, Edwin moved with his family to Minnesota but after his father died the family returned to Lebanon (Boone County), Indiana where Edwin attended elementary and high school.  After graduating from high school, Edwin taught school and then attended DePauw University and Indiana State Normal School, graduating from Indiana State in 1897 with a teaching certificate.  In 1899 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University, majoring in chemistry.  He received a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Following graduation from the University of Chicago, Bruce served in various capacities at several schools in Indiana before moving to Oregon to teach at the Eastern Oregon State Normal School. While at Eastern Oregon, Bruce met and married Blanche Canfield. 

In 1904, Edwin and Blanche moved to North Dakota where Edwin had been hired as chemistry professor at the North Dakota State Teachers College for the 1904-1905 academic year.  The couple was there for a short time when W. W. Parsons, president of Indiana State, hired Edwin as the assistant professor of physics and chemistry.  Parsons promised Bruce the chairmanship of a chemistry department when that section of the department enrolled enough students to warrant making it a separate department.    

Edwin Bruce began his career at Indiana State in the fall of 1905.  Less than two years later, the chemistry department had grown enough that, as promised, Edwin was made chair of the Chemistry Department.  During his time as chairman of the chemistry department, Bruce was the author of Detection of the Common Food Adulterants (1917), a textbook and several chemistry manuals.  Bruce retired from Indiana State in 1934 and was awarded emeritus status.

Bruce was a member of the Indiana Academy of Science, the National Educational Association and an honorary member of the Vigo County Medical Society.

Edwin Bruce died at his home at 2108 N. 10th Street on October 1, 1943. 

Blanche Canfield Bruce

Emma Blanche Canfield was born in Wells, Minnesota on September 9, 1879 to Henry and Josephine (McKinster) Canfield.  Blanche, as she preferred to be called, received her elementary and high school education in Waseca, Minnesota before moving to Oregon with her family. 

She attended Eastern Oregon State Teachers College and met Edwin during her senior year.  She apparently did well enough in school that she was hired as a “critic teacher” after she graduated.  Critic teachers traditionally were experienced teachers that served as role models for students who desired to enter the teaching profession.  It would have been considered quite an accomplishment for Blanche to have attained such a responsible position at so young an age.

As a child, Blanche was an artistic prodigy.  She was only ten when she began to study painting under a professional artist.  After her September 1903 marriage, Blanche resumed painting but turned it into a career.  She graduated from the Chicago Art Institute and she studied in New York with artist Susan Ricker Knox.  She traveled throughout the United States painting landscapes.  Her landscapes and still-lifes were exhibited in eight Hoosier Salons and she had several art shows around Terre Haute.  Shortly before she died, the director of the Swope Gallery said of her still-lifes that, “Mrs. Bruce favors color, plenty of it, laid on vigorously”.

Blanche Bruce was also a well-respected interior decorator who worked with Ross Crane, a nationally known interior decorator for eighteen years.  She gave lectures on interior design and had clients in St. Louis and Detroit.

She was a member of Terre Haute's City Planning Commission, serving at times as vice-chair and chair.  During her vice-chairmanship a growth plan for the city was adopted which provided for zoning to separate industrial and residential areas.  The City Planning Commission also approved the plotting of grounds for new subdivisions.

Blanche was a charter member of the Woman's Department Club and the Pen and Brush Club.  She was president of the Vigo County Federated Woman's Club, an active member of Indiana State Teachers College's Faculty Wives Club and vice chairman of the woman's division of the Vigo County War Finance Committee.

Blanche Bruce died on August 26, 1945 at Union Hospital in Terre Haute.

Content and Scope of Collection

This collection consists mostly of items from the professional and personal lives of Edwin and Blanche Bruce, including certificates, art exhibit advertisements and pamphlets, and photographs.  The photographs are of Edwin and Blanche, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and also of family residences.

The collection also contains information on Bruceville, a copy of William Bruce's Memoirs and Edwin Bruce's typewritten addition to these memoirs.


Document Case

Edwin Bruce

Folder 1

Biographical material
(from Esarey, History of Indiana from its


Folder 2

“Memoirs of the Bruce Family”, Indiana
   Magazine of History
(written by
  William Bruce in 1851)


Folder 3

Genealogical material prepared by
  Edwin Bruce


Folder 4

Professional accomplishments


Folder 5

Publications :



Detection of the Common Food
  Adulterants (photocopy of cover)




“Mileage Obtained from Some
  Commercial Gasolines” Proceedings
    of the Indiana Academy of Sciences
  (entire article)




An Outline and Laboratory Manual of
  Organic Chemistry
  (photocopies of covers)

1930, 1932

Folder 6

Tributes from the First Baptist Church,
  Terre Haute



Blanche Canfield Bruce (Folders 7-12)

Folder 7

Biographical material (prepared by
  granddaughter Susan Bragdon Van Horn)

ca. 2000

Folder 8

Obituaries and eulogies


Folder 9

Artistic career


Folder 10

Hoosier Salon


Folder 11

Interior decorator

ca. 1930s

Folder 12

Member, City Planning Commission

ca. 1920s

Folder 13

Edwin Bruce home - 2108 N. 10th Street,
  Terre Haute (featured in the 1989 Designers
  Show House fundraiser sponsored by the
  Service League of Union Hospital)


Folder 14

William Bruce home - Bruceville, Indiana
  (articles about home and visits by Abraham


Folder 15

Bruceville, 1805-1954  (cover page and 3
  pages of photographs)


Photographs (Folders 16-22)

Folder 16

Edwin Bruce

ca. 1900-1940s

Folder 17

Blanche Canfield Bruce

ca. 1897-1940s

Folder 18

Edwin and Blanche Bruce and daughters
  (Muriel and Lillian)

ca. 1910s

Folder 19

Hugh and Muriel (Bruce) Bragdon
  and daughters (Marilyn Jane, Clare Lee and
  Susan Linette)

ca. 1940s

Folder 20

Lillian (Bruce) Bibbs and son (Robert)

ca. 1940s


Folder 21

Richard and Susan (Bragdon) Van Horn,
  and family (children and grandchildren)


Folder 22

Bruce Family residences

  (Terre Haute; Miconoqua, Wisconsin;
    and the parapet of the castle of Robert the
    Bruce in Scotland)