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Bell Family Papers

Identifier: FMS-46

Scope and Contents

The Bell Family papers document the lives of Quakers in Ireland and the United States. Most of the papers concern William Bell, a Quaker cotton manufacturer and editor of Belfast, Ireland, New York City, Cincinnati, and Richmond, Indiana. The Bell Papers include several types of documents. Most of the correspondence dates from the period 1811-1813, being copies of letters to William Bell from his mother, apparently written while he was away from home attending school, and from the 1840s. The latter consists mainly of copies of letters by William Bell, with comments on his business situation, Quaker affairs, and slavery and antislavery. Other documents include business papers and two Quaker marriage certificates, one from 1754, the other dated 1820; genealogical and biographical writings; and a file on Tong Sing Kow, a Chinese Friend with ties to the Bell family who was the subject of the novel, A Chinese Quaker, by Nellie Blessing Eyster.


  • 1754-1967
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1965

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on access.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce and to publish for commercial purposes must be requested from the Archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

William Bell was born in Belfast, Ireland, July 11, 1797, the son of John Bell, a leading textile manufacturer. William Bell married Hannah Christy Wakefield, a fellow Quaker, in 1820, and joined his father's firm. After John Bell and Company went bankrupt in 1833, William Bell founded and edited a Quaker periodical, the Irish Friend. In 1842 the Bell family came to America. They lived for two years in New York City, then moved to Cincinnati. In 1851, the family came to Richmond, where William and Hannah lived until their deaths. Hannah died in 1861, William March 5, 1871.

Note written by


1 Boxes

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Method of Acquisition

Purchase, Oakland California book dealer. Additions to the collection were made in 1988 by Anne McDonald Corsi '37, a great-granddaughter of William Bell.

Accruals and Additions

No additions or accrual are expected.

Related Materials

William Bell's bound volume of the Irish Friend is also in the Friends Collection.

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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository