Finding Aid for the Eric Temple Bell Papers 1919-1955

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Eric Temple Bell Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1919-1955
Collection number: 10006-MS
Creator: Bell, Eric Temple 1883-1960
Extent: 4 linear feet
Repository: California Institute of Technology. Caltech Archives
Pasadena, California 91125
Abstract: Eric Temple Bell was professor mathematics at Caltech from 1926 to 1953. He was a specialist in the theory of numbers. He also distinguished himself as a writer of science fiction under the name of John Taine, and also as the author of non-fiction and poetry. His papers include literary and scientific manuscripts; correspondence, largely with publishers; and some reprints of his own scientific publications.
Physical location: Archives, California Institute of Technology.
Language of Material:
Languages represented in the collection:
English

Access

The collection is open for research. Researchers must apply in writing for access.

Publication Rights

Copyright may not have been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Caltech Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and, unless explicitly stated otherwise, is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Eric Temple Bell Papers, 10006-MS, Caltech Archives, California Institute of Technology.

Acquisition Information

The Eric Temple Bell Papers were assembled from a number of different sources. The earliest to be documented is the 1971 donation of the manuscript of "Man and his Lifebelts" from a private source. The mathematical manuscripts were given to the Caltech Archives by Caltech professor of mathematics Tom M. Apostol in 1981. The manuscript copy of the poem "The Scarlet Night" was donated to the Archives by Bell's biographer, Constance Reid, in 1997. E. T. Bell's reprints were added to the collection at various times from various sources.

Biography

Eric Temple Bell was born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1883. He came alone to the U.S. at the age of 19 and enrolled in Stanford University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1904. He continued his education at the University of Washington with a master's degree in 1908. Subsequently he moved to New York to earn his PhD at Columbia University in 1912. He returned to the West to teach mathematics at the University of Washington, where he stayed for 14 years. He came to Caltech as professor of mathematics in 1926.
Bell was a specialist in the theory of numbers. He received the prestigious Bôcher Prize from the American Mathematical Society in 1920. From 1924 to 1927 he served on the Society's council and in 1926 became its vice president. In 1930 he served as vice president of the Physical Sciences Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and from 1931 to 1933 was president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 1938 he received the Gold Medal of the California Commonwealth Club for his mathematical writings. He was the author of almost 300 mathematical papers, four advanced and ten popular books on mathematics, among the latter the highly regarded Men of Mathematics (1937). His technical books include Algebraic Arithmetic (1927) and The Development of Mathematics (1940). Bell was a member of a number of learned societies, including the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Sciences.
Under the pseudonym John Taine, Bell authored 13 science fiction novels and more science fiction magazine stories, most written between the years 1920 and 1940. A writer for the Caltech magazine Engineering and Science wrote: "Bell's science fiction is distinguished by its violence. It abounds in overwhelming catastrophes of nature, prehistoric reptilian monsters, men turned into brute beasts and men turned into masses of fungoid growth." Bell also wrote plays, poetry, and works of non-fiction.
Eric Temple Bell died in Pasadena, California, on December 21, 1960.

Scope and Content

The Papers of Eric Temple Bell are comprised of separate groups of papers which were acquired by the Caltech Archives in a piecemeal fashion. The collection is currently organized into four series, generally reflecting the sequence of donation. The first series contains some of Bell's science fiction manuscripts in both typewritten and holographic form. A copy of the manuscript for his long poem, "The Scarlet Night," is located in series 4 because of its late date of acquisition. The correspondence series (series 2) is a mixture of types, but letters with publishers predominate, and there is little in the way of interesting scientific exchange. Series 3, the mathematical manuscripts, came to the Archives through the care of Professor Tom Apostol of the Caltech mathematics department. It represents at best a sample of Bell's work, mainly from the 1940s. The concluding section of the collection contains a portion of Bell's many mathematical articles in reprint form, from the 1920s through the late 1940s.
The collection is organized into the following series:
  • Series 1. Science Fiction and Non-Technical Writings
  • Series 2. Correspondence
  • Series 3. Mathematical Manuscripts
  • Series 4. Miscellaneous and Supplementary Material

Related Material

Substantial correspondence with E. T. Bell, his wife Toby, and their son, Taine, may be found in the papers of H. P. Robertson in the Caltech Archives. Readers should also consult the Historical File on E. T. Bell which contains additional stories and playbills for dramatic productions by this author.
A collection of Eric Temple Bell papers is deposited in the Special Collections department of the University of California, Santa Cruz, library. A finding aid to this collection  is available at the Online Archive of California.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects

California Institute of Technology
Taine, John 1883-1960
Mathematics
Science fiction

Occupations

Mathematicians


Container List

 

Series 1.  Science Fiction and Non-Technical Writings

Box 1, Folder 1

The Forbidden Garden: Chaps. 1-7 1928

Physical Description: Typescript with holograph corrections.

Note

Author John Taine.
Box 1, Folder 2

The Forbidden Garden: Chaps. 8-15 1928

Physical Description: Typescript with holograph corrections.

Note

Author John Taine.
Box 1, Folder 3

The Forbidden Garden: Chaps. 16-23 1928

Physical Description: Typescript with holograph corrections.

Note

Author John Taine.
Box 1, Folder 4

White Lily: Part I undated

Physical Description: Typescript.

Note

Author John Taine.
Box 1, Folder 5

White Lily: Part II undated

Physical Description: Typescript.

Note

Author John Taine.
Box 1, Folder 6

White Lily: Part III undated

Physical Description: Typescript.

Note

Author John Taine.
Box 1, Folder 7

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part I undated

Physical Description: Typescript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell
Box 1, Folder 8

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part II undated

Physical Description: Typescript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell
Box 1, Folder 9

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part III undated

Physical Description: Typescript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell
Box 2, Folder 1

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part I (1) 1938

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell.
Box 2, Folder 2

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part I (2) 1938

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell.
Box 2, Folder 3

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part II (1) 1938

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell.
Box 2, Folder 4

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part II (2) 1938

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell.
Box 2, Folder 5

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part III (1) 1938

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell.
Box 2, Folder 6

New Magic for Old: Science in a Dawning Civilization: Part III (2) 1938

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.

Note

Author E. T. Bell.
Box 3, Folder 1

Man and His Lifebelts (1) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 2

Man and His Lifebelts (2) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 3

Man and His Lifebelts (3) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 4

Man and His Lifebelts (4) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 5

Man and His Lifebelts (5) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 6

Man and His Lifebelts (6) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 7

Man and His Lifebelts (7) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 8

Man and His Lifebelts (8) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 9

Man and His Lifebelts (9) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 10

Man and His Lifebelts (10) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 11

Man and His Lifebelts (11) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
Box 3, Folder 12

Man and His Lifebelts (12) 1937

Physical Description: Holograph manuscript.
 

Series 2.  Correspondence

Box 4, Folder 1

Ackerman, Forrest 1947-1951, undated

Box 4, Folder 2

American Philosophical Society 1950

Box 4, Folder 3

Author's Guild of the Author's League of America, Inc. 1948-1950

Box 4, Folder 4

Richard D. Badger Publisher 1919

Box 4, Folder 5

Curtis Brown, Ltd. 1951

Box 4, Folder 6

Dover Publications, Inc. 1949, 1951

Box 4, Folder 7

Encyclopaedia Britannica 1950

Box 4, Folder 8

Fantastic Worlds 1953

Box 4, Folder 9

Fantasy Press, Inc. 1946-1948, 1951-1952, 1954-1955

Box 4, Folder 10

Fantasy Publishing Company 1947-1952, undated

Box 4, Folder 11

Friend, Oscar J. 1949-1955, undated

Box 4, Folder 12

Galaxy Science Fiction 1951

Box 4, Folder 13

Harvard University Press 1949

Box 4, Folder 14

Kapferer, Heinrich 1933, 1949

Note

Includes reprints.
Box 4, Folder 15

Lauer, Rosemary Zita 1951

Box 4, Folder 16

McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 1946-1953, 1955, undated

Box 4, Folder 17

Merlin Press, Inc. 1949

Box 4, Folder 18

Moskowitz, Sam 1952

Box 4, Folder 19

National Comics Publications, Inc. 1946-1953

Box 4, Folder 20

Noble and Noble Publishers, Inc. 1949

Box 4, Folder 21

W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1948

Box 4, Folder 22

Penguin Books Ltd. 1950, 1952

Box 4, Folder 23

Pohl, Frederik 1950

Box 4, Folder 24

Pol, Balthasar van der 1952

Box 4, Folder 25

Princeton University Press 1950-1952

Box 4, Folder 26

Rieder, Heinrich 1947

Box 4, Folder 27

Rougier, Louis 1947-1948, undated

Box 4, Folder 28

Rukeyser, Muriel 1940 [?], 1950-1951, undated

Box 4, Folder 29

Henry Schuman, Inc., Publishers 1947-1948, undated

Box 4, Folder 30

Scientific American 1948-1949

Box 4, Folder 31

Scripta Mathematica 1948-1949, 1952

Box 4, Folder 32

Simon and Schuster, Inc. 1935, 1947-1953, 1955, 1960, undated

Box 4, Folder 33

William R. Staats Company 1950

Box 4, Folder 34

Standard Magazines, Inc. 1946, 1949

Box 4, Folder 35

Swift, J. D. 1950

Box 4, Folder 36

University of Washington 1941

Box 4, Folder 37

Western Printing and Lithographing Company 1949

Box 4, Folder 38

Williams and Wilkins Company 1945, 1947-1950

Box 4, Folder 39

Zeitlin and Ver Brugge Booksellers 1938, 1946-1947

 

Series 3.  Mathematical Manuscripts

Box 5, Folder 1

Census of Solved Simple Multiplicative Diophantine Equations ca. 1931-1943

Box 5, Folder 2

Miscellaneous Diophantines I (1) ca. 1945

Box 5, Folder 3

Miscellaneous Diophantines I (2) ca. 1945

Box 5, Folder 4

Miscellaneous Diophantines I (3) ca. 1945

Box 5, Folder 5

Miscellaneous Diophantines II (1) ca. 1945

Box 5, Folder 6

Miscellaneous Diophantines II (2) ca. 1945

Box 6, Folder 1

Miscellaneous Diophantines II (3) ca. 1945

Box 6, Folder 2

Miscellaneous Diophantines III 1945-1946

Box 6, Folder 3

General case Dirichlet products 1944

Box 6, Folder 4

Pseudo-Bernoulli numbers 1950

Box 6, Folder 5

Stirling numbers 1943, undated

Box 6, Folder 6

Linear partitions 1947-1951

Box 6, Folder 7

Totitive functions (1) ca. 1943-1949

Box 6, Folder 8

Totitive functions (2) ca. 1943-1950

Box 6, Folder 9

Indeterminate analysis 1951

 

Series 4.  Miscellaneous and Supplementary Material

Box 6, Folder 10

Published Articles

Scope and Content Note

  • Bell, Eric T.: Arithmetical Paraphrases 1921
  • Bell, Eric T.: Mathematics Up-To-Date 1934
  • Bell, Jessie L.: Chains of Congruences for the Numerators and Denominators of the Bernoulli Numbers 1927
Box 7, Folder 1

The Scarlet Night (dramatic poem) 1910, after 1945

Physical Description: Photocopy of typescript; 756 pages.

Note

With introductory note by author written after Word War II and the use of the atomic bomb.
Box 8, Folder 1

E. T. Bell, Mathematical reprints 1927-1929

Box 8, Folder 2

E. T. Bell, Mathematical reprints 1930-1933

Box 8, Folder 3

E. T. Bell, Mathematical reprints 1934-1936

Box 8, Folder 4

E. T. Bell, Mathematical reprints 1937-1942

Box 9, Folder 1

E. T. Bell, Mathematical reprints 1943-1949, undated

Box 9, Folder 2

Conference on the Interpretation of the Natural Sciences for a General Public (Rye, New York): Vol. 1, sections 1-3 15-16 June 1938

Note

Conference memorandum.
Box 9, Folder 3

Conference on the Interpretation of the Natural Sciences for a General Public (Rye, New York): Vol. 2, sections 4-5 15-16 June 1938

Note

Conference memorandum.