33 boxes, 6 volumes, 1 flat file, (12.2. linear feet).
Organized into four series: Series 2. Correspondence, ca. 1900-1980, n.d. (Boxes 1-11, 30); Series 2. Personal papers, ca. 1869-1980, n.d. (Boxes 12-20, Volumes 1-4); Series 3. Media, Pa. papers, 1945-1980, n.d. (Boxes 21-23); Series 4. Images, artifacts, ephemera, ca. 1850-1974, n.d. (Boxes 24-29, 31-33, Volumes 5-6).
The Esther R. Bell Papers include family correspondence, business papers, financial records, and ephemera dating from about 1850 to 1980. The majority of the material spans about fifty years, from 1928 to 1977. Every effort was made to retain the original order of the collection; and although Bell filed her papers roughly by subject and then chronologically, it was clear that she maintained the same files for many years and often mixed items without changing folder labels. Therefore, the collection has been kept in rough chronological order, and Bell's original folder titles have been used where appropriate or changed to reflect each folder's contents. These papers richly document Bell's personal and business pursuits from the 1920s to the 1970s, such as her travels, her work as a graphic designer, and her volunteerism in Media, Pennsylvania. Some of the material provides glimpses into the lives of other members of the Bell family, particularly her father Joseph Percy, and her aunt Esther Fisher, her brother, Joseph Elliot, and her nieces, Charlotte Esther and Joan (who were better known in the family by their nicknames, "Char-Este" and "Jingle.") This collection contains a myriad of items including postcards, correspondence, personal and business papers, tax records, clippings, artwork, daguerreotypes, tintypes, and other photographs.
Esther Rebecca Bell (1906-1982) was a graphic artist from Media, Pennsylvania, a small suburb of Philadelphia, and a graduate of the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. While a college student, she received a fellowship to study art in Paris. Locally, she became a well-known freelance graphic design artist and worked for several organizations in Philadelphia and Media. She also designed Christmas cards, illustrated filmstrips, and taught silk screening classes. She was an active volunteer in Media, became a board member of the Media-Upper Providence Library, and participated in the restoration of Media's historic Minshall House.
The collection is open for research.
Cite as: [Indicate cited item or series here], Esther R. Bell Papers (Collection 3095), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Finding aid available in repository and online.