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Arthur J. Bell papers

Identifier: AG 234

Scope and Contents

The collection is divided into five series: Correspondence, 1950-1998; Biographical Materials, 1850s-2000s; Activity Files, 1962-2010; Photographers Baseball Cards, 1975; and Photographic Materials, 1961-1996. The bulk of the collection consists of photographic materials including negatives, transparencies, contact sheets, and prints. There is little information about Bell’s personal life. Documentation of his career as a photographer is mainly through photographic materials but there are a number of calendars kept by Bell covering the time period 1973-2007.

The first series, Correspondence, 1950-1998, is divided into Selected and General correspondence. The Selected correspondence consists of letters from photographers Edna Bullock and Barbara Crane as well as correspondence with artist Henry Moore. The General correspondence consists of one folder of letters, arranged chronologically, covering a variety of subjects including letters about Bell’s work, exhibition submissions, and letters from friends.

The second series, Biographical Materials, 1850s-2000s, includes material about Arthur Bell, his wife Janice, and family photographs. What little information there is in the collection about Bell’s personal life is in this series and includes his birth certificate, passports, diplomas, and medical records. The bulk of this series consists of Bell’s school notebooks. Materials about Janice Bell include a copy of her passport, information related to the exhibition Illinois Photographers ‘80, which included photographs by Janice, and a portion of her resume. Also included are several of her pay stubs. The photographs in this series date 1850s – 2000s and include images of Arthur Bell, Janice Bell, Arthur and Janice’s wedding, and various family members some of which may have been made by Bell himself. There are a number of unidentified photographs including daguerreotypes, tintypes, and cartes-de-visite.

The Activity Files, 1962-2010, series documents aspects of Bell's career in photography. This series includes Bell’s calendars/day planners from 1973 to 2007. Information in these varies from year to year and most often consists of appointment entries, addresses, and notes. Scattered throughout the calendars are various business cards. These cards were left in place but it is unclear how these relate to information or appointments listed in the calendars. Also in this series is information on Bell’s employment history including resumes, employment inquiries, and materials related to teaching at Columbia College 1979-1983. Of note is an NEA grant application done in 1984.

Of particular interest in the Activity Files series is information on solo and group exhibitions which included Bell’s photographs. The bulk of the exhibitions documented in the collection were at locations in and around Chicago, Illinois, but there is also information about exhibitions of his work in New Jersey, Michigan, North Carolina, and Mexico City.

The financial records in the Activity Files series are minimal and do not begin to provide an overview of Bell's finances or earnings from his photography. Materials include some pay stubs, consignment receipts, automobile repairs receipts and utility bills. Also included in the financial records are receipts for photograph processing and photographic equipment.

The photo projects materials in the Activity Files series consist of prints, contact sheets and some negatives for several projects undertaken by Bell documenting homes and institutions for troubled children in the Chicago area including Randall House and Quaker House. The “Randall House” project was done with guidance from photographer Aaron Siskind.

Also included in the Activity Files series are published materials, organized chronologically, both about Bell and collected by Bell including periodicals, photocopied articles and exhibition catalogs; writings collected by Bell; and information from 1984 about the Society for Photographic Education. The last group of materials in this series are receipts, itineraries, and maps related to Bell’s travel abroad in France, Iceland and Amsterdam and a trip in 1985 to Tucson, Arizona. The travel materials are also organized chronologically.

The Photographers Baseball Cards series consists of seven sets of the Photographers Baseball Cards done by photographer Mike Mandel in 1975. The sets were rehoused into acid free sleeves and the original gum from each set was discarded at time of processing due to deterioration. The order of the cards listed in the finding aid represents the order the cards were in their original packets.

The Photographic Materials series is comprised of negatives, contact sheets, and transparencies made by Arthur Bell from circa 1962 until circa 2010. The series is organized by size of negative or transparency and includes both color and black and white materials. Much of this material was made in and around the Chicago area and document Bell’s exploration of the medium of photography including experimentation in exposure and depth of field. Included in the photographic materials are photographs made of Henry Moore sculptures (6X6 black and white) done in 1967. Additional subject matter includes images from his travels and portraits of friends and family members.

The final series, Moving Images, consists of four reels of 8mm film. These films are unidentified and undated.


  • 1850s-2010, bulk 1960s-2000s


Language of Materials

Material in English

Conditions Governing Access

To access materials from this collection, please contact

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to the Arthur J. Bell Papers is held by the Center for Creative Photography.

It is the responsibility of the user to obtain permission from the copyright owner (which could be the institution, the creator of the record, the author or his/her transferees, heirs, legates or literary executors) prior to any copyright-protected uses of the collection.

The user agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless the Arizona Board of Regents, the University of Arizona, Center of Creative Photography, including its officers, employees, and agents, from and against all claims made relating to copyright or other intellectual property infringement

Biographical Note

Arthur Joel Bell, born in Chicago, Illinois on January 2, 1942, was one of two children of Russian born attorney Harry Bell and Sabina Cohen Bell. Upon graduating from Chicago’s Frances W. Parker High School in 1960, Bell attended the University of the Pacific, 1960-1962; the University of Chicago, 1963-1964; eventually graduating with his B.S. from the Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Design in 1971. In 1974 Bell earned an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. Each of these institutions Bell attended shaped his photographic development and introduced him to various mentors including Joshua Taylor, head of the Art History Department at the University of Chicago; Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design at Illinois Institute of Technology; and Harry Callahan at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Bell’s photographic endeavors included teaching photography at Columbia College in Chicago, Illinois; human interest photo projects; documentary work for the artist Henry Moore; and exhibiting his own work in several solo and shared exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. Bell’s photographs were published in Hasselblad magazine (1971) and mentioned in numerous articles including in Modern Photography (1980).

Bell’s final exhibition, Arthur Bell/Abstract Representation, was held at Northern Illinois University Art Museum in 1994.

Arthur Bell married Janice Bell in 1974. The couple divorced in 1988. Arthur J. Bell died in Wilmette, Illinois, on January 27, 2010.


36 Boxes (21 linear feet)

Metadata Rights Declarations

  • License: This record is made available under an Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons license.


Papers, 1850s-2010 (bulk 1960s-2000s), collected and created by Chicago photographer Arthur J. Bell (1942-2010) consisting of correspondence, biographical materials, and materials from Bell’s photographic career. The bulk of the collection consists of Bell’s negatives but additional materials include exhibition announcements, clippings, travel documents, appointment calendars, memorabilia, and photographic prints. There is a small amount of information on Janice Bell, Arthur Bell’s wife, and the Bell family.


The Collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Series 1: Correspondence

Series 2: Biographical Materials

  1. Subseries 1: Arthur Bell
  2. Subseries 2: Education
  3. Subseries 3: Mementos
  4. Subseries 4: Photographs

Series 3: Activity Files

  1. Subseries 1: Calendars/Day Planners
  2. Subseries 2: Employment
  3. Subseries 3: Exhibitions
  4. Subseries 4: Financial Records
  5. Subseries 5: Photo Projects
  6. Subseries 6: Published Materials
  7. Subseries 7: Travel
  1. Series 4: Photographers Baseball Cards, 1975
  2. Series 5: Photographic Materials
  3. Series 6: Moving Images

Custodial History

Gift of the Arthur J. Bell Trust, 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Andy Belone, 2011; Kari Quiballo, 2013; Irlanda Jacinto, 2013; and David Benjamin, 2013-2014.

Finding aid updated by Meghan Jordan in June 2016.

Arthur J. Bell Papers, 1850s-2010, bulk 1960s-2000s
Finding aid updated by Meghan Jordan
© 2020
Description rules
Finding Aid Based On Dacs (Describing Archives: A Content Standard)
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid encoded in English

Repository Details

Part of the Center for Creative Photography Archives Repository

1030 N. Olive RD
Tucson Arizona 85721 United States