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Bell Family papers

Identifier: MS 787
Finding aid note: Forms part of the Houston Jewish History Archive. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains photographs, news clippings, school reports, programs, and a bulletin related to the Bell family. A later addendum contributed several photo albums to the collection. The materials are in good condition, and range in date from the 1910s to the 1990s. Researchers interested in the daily life of Jews in Houston spanning several generations, especially their connections to institutions such as the congregation Emanu El, the Workmen’s Circle school, and the Jewish Community Center would find this collection especially intriguing. The materials spotlight just a few members of the Bell family, and focus more on the personal lives of the members than larger movements or contributions within the community.


  • 1910 - 2004


Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center in small collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from the Bell family collection must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.

The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.

Biographical / Historical

Spanning several generations, the Bell family has engaged with the Houston Jewish community at the congregation Emanu El, and through their patronage of Jewish schools, including the Workmen’s Circle School, Nite Owl Program, and the Jewish Community Center Nursery. Featured by name in this collection are family members Luba Bell Wise, her daughters Minnie and Annie, and her grandson Mark Joel Birnbaum, as well as Boris “Bussie” Bell, and material donors Henrietta and Marian Bell, his wife and daughter respectively. Photo albums also feature extended family members, such as the Kapiloffs. The control folder contains the arranger’s reconstructed family tree for reference.


1.25 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Bell family collection contains materials from various family members, such as a photograph of Boris “Bussie” Bell’s bowling team, report cards from Walter Bell’s school days, and piano recital programs featuring Marian Bell. A later addendum contributed photo albums of both the extended Bell family and activities with the Nite Owls at the Jewish Community Center, and the Workmen’s Circle. The materials are social in nature and reveal the Bell family’s connections to the larger Houston Jewish Community.


The materials are arranged in two series as follows:

Series I: General Series II: Addendum Subseries A: Correspondence Subseries B: Jewish Community Center Subseries C: Military Subseries D: Workmen's Circle Subseries E: Yiddish Subseries F: Media Subseries G: Photo Albums Subseries H: Scrapbooks

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Henrietta and Marian Bell donated the materials in July of 2018 and in June of 2019.


Guide to the Bell family papers, 1910-2004
Gabby Parker, Katie Webber
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA