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Edward Price Bell Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Midwest-MS-Bell

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, diaries, notebooks, scrapbooks, clippings, photos, and memorabilia from Edward Price Bell's time as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Daily News, roving correspondent for the Literary Digest, and contributor to the Times of London and other publications. The collection includes much material on diplomatic figures and statesmen of Europe and Asia, events leading up to and during World War I, the post war treaties, the conference between Herbert Hoover and British Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald in 1929, the London Naval Conference in 1930, the rise of totalitarian governments in Germany and Italy, and Chinese-Japanese relations.

The collection also includes letters supporting Bell's nomination for the 1930 Nobel Peace prize, drafts of his newspaper articles, stories, and other works, including interviews Wilhelm Marx, Benito Mussolini, Raymond Poincaré, and Ramsay MacDonald. There is also family correspondence and a small section of materials concerning Bell's wife Mary.

Dates

  • 1886-1951
  • Majority of material found within 1900 - 1942

Creator

Language

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Edward Price Bell Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Edward Price Bell Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Edward Price Bell

Edward Price Bell was born on a farm located sixteen miles north of Terre Haute, Indiana, on March 1, 1869. He began his career in the newspaper business at a young age, working as printer and reporter for the Terre Haute Evening Gazette at the age of 13. Bell later worked for newspapers in Indianapolis and St. Louis as a reporter, then became managing editor of the Evansville Standard in southwest Indiana, where he was also the local correspondent for both the Chicago Daily News and the Chicago Record. He later returned to Terre Haute to take over managing editor duties for the Evening Gazette.

From 1894-1897 Bell attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Bell married Mary Alice Mills in 1897 and the couple had three children: Alice Elizabeth Price, Edward Price, and John Addison Price Bell.

In 1898, Bell left Indiana for Chicago, where he sought out Chicago Record editor Charles Dennis. Dennis hired Bell as a reporter, and in his first year with the Record Bell covered major stories in Chicago and elsewhere, including a Chippewa Indian uprising in Minnesota and race riots in Wilmington, North Carolina. Bell's work soon attracted the attention of Victor Lawson, publisher of both the Record and the Daily News.

In 1900, Lawson asked Bell to manage the fledgling foreign news service of the Chicago Record, and he and his family relocated to London. When Lawson sold the Chicago Record a year later, its foreign news service transferred to the Chicago Daily News, and Bell remained in London for the next twenty-two years as overseas manager. During this time, the foreign news service of the Chicago Daily News became a leader in the field and Bell its most prominent correspondent, reporting on major European events. Bell's reputation grew during World War I, when he was able to secure interviews with many prominent politicians and military figures, which received world-wide circulation and acclaim.

In 1923 Bell left London permanently and returned to the United States with his family. He embarked on a three year lecture tour assigned by Victor Lawson, speaking at colleges and civic and business groups throughout the Midwest on the importance of international relations and foreign affairs. During this time Bell also reported on the activities of the Ku Klux Klan for the Chicago Daily News, later publishing the articles in a pamphlet entitled "Creed of the Klansman". In 1925 he set out on a self-conceived and self-supported world tour to interview world leaders on various issues, including United States President Calvin Coolidge, Chancellor Wilhelm Marx of Germany, Premier Benito Mussolini of Italy, Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré of France, Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald of Great Britain, Prime Minister Mackenzie King of Canada, President Manuel Quezon of the Philippines, Prime Minister Kato Takaaki and politician Kijuro Shidehara of Japan, and Chinese diplomat Tang Shaoyi among others. Bell collected these interviews into two books: World Chancelleries (1929) and Europe's Economic Sunrise (1927). Bell wished to discover and publish the views of the government leaders he spoke to in the hope that this would lead to greater understanding and contribute to international cooperation.

Though Victor Lawson died in 1925, Bell continued to write for the Chicago Daily News, and in 1928 he was assigned to cover President-elect Herbert Hoover's goodwill tour to Latin America. Bell became close to Hoover, and they continued to correspond throughout the rest of Bell's life. Hoping to foster closer British-American ties and better diplomatic relations between the two countries, Bell originated the idea of a conference in Washington between Hoover and Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. By his writings and private conversations with both Hoover and MacDonald, Bell helped bring about a meeting between the two leaders in 1929, which was the preliminary to the London Naval Conference and Treaty in 1930. For his part in the negotiations Bell was nominated for the 1930 Nobel Peace Prize by Kijuro Shidehara of Japan. Bell's nomination was heavily supported by letters to the Nobel Committee in Oslo from statesmen, educators, scientists, and clergymen of America, Europe and Asia.

In 1932 Bell retired from the Chicago Daily News but continued to write. In 1934 he toured the world a second time for the Literary Digest, interviewing the premiers and foreign ministers of many countries, as well as Pope Pius XI, about the problems in achieving a lasting world peace. Between 1935 and 1938 Bell again traveled throughout America, lecturing on the duty of Americans to participate in the effort to organize a stable peace and to combat America's involvement in world conflict. On the eve of World War II Bell held decidedly isolationist views, believing that American involvement in the European war was antithetical to achieving world peace.

By 1938, Bell was suffering the effects of beriberi, contracted during his travels abroad. He remained confined to his estate at Merrywood, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, where he worked on his autobiography, Seventy Years Deep, wrote short stories and poetry, and became a long distance columnist and political editor for the Terre Haute Saturday Spectator in 1941. Bell died at Merrywood in 1943, of complications from beriberi.

Extent

31.3 Linear Feet (64 boxes and 4 oversize boxes)

Abstract

Correspondence, works, and other items related to Edward Price Bell's career as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Daily News and roving correspondent for the Literary Digest.

Organization

Papers are organized in the following series
Series 1: Incoming Correspondence, 1896-1942
Boxes 1-19
Series 2: Outgoing Correspondence, 1901-1942
Boxes 20-29
Series 3: Works, 1895-1942
Boxes 30-49
Series 4: Subject Files, 1908-1947
Boxes 50-55
Series 5: Personal Papers, 1896-1941
Boxes 56-59
Series 6: Family Papers, 1895-1951
Boxes 60-63
Series 7: Photographs, 1903-1938
Box 64

Collection Stack Location

1 4 6-7

Other Finding Aids

Newberry Library Bulletin, 2nd Ser. No. 1 (July 1948), p. 1-11; Newberry Library Bulletin, Vol. 4, No. 1 (November 1955), p. 24-27.

Provenance

Gift of Mary Mills Bell, 1947. Additional gifts from Edward Price Bell, Jr., 1952; Alice Bell Prindiville, 1973; James D. Startt, 1980; and Gloria Oden-Bell, 2007.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1954, Lisa Janssen, Kelly Kress, and Shannon Yule, 2006.

Acknowledgements

This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Title
Inventory of the Edward Price Bell Papers, 1886-1951, bulk 1900-1942
Status
Completed
Author
Lisa Janssen and Kelly Kress
Date
©2007.
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 8/9/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts Repository

Contact:
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Chicago Illinois 60610 United States
312-255-3512