Marion & Lorne W. Bell Papers

Finding aid created by Jamie Henricks.
Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
© 2017
Japanese American National Museum. All rights reserved.

Finding aid for the Marion & Lorne W. Bell Papers

Collection number: 88.36

Descriptive Summary

Title: Marion & Lorne W. Bell papers
Date: 1942-1949,1974-1978
Collection number: 88.36
Collection Size: .4 linear feet (1 box)
Repository: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Los Angeles, California 90012
Creator: Bell, Marion
Creator: Bell, Lorne W.
Abstract: This collection contains the materials collected and created primarily by Marion Bell, dating from 1942 to 1978. The contents are primarily watercolor paintings and woodblock prints of the Topaz Relocation Center, as well as a diary, articles, ration books, and books.
Physical location: Japanese American National Museum. 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.


By appointment only. Please contact the Collections Management and Access Unit ( Advanced notice is required.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Collections Management and Access Unit at the Japanese American National Museum (

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Marion & Lorne W. Bell Papers. 88.36, Japanese American National Museum. Los Angeles, CA.

Acquisition Information

Acquired in 1988 as a gift of Marion and Lorne W. Bell.

Processing Information

Items retain their original titles when available. The collection was processed at an earlier date; the contents were re-inventoried and a finding aid created in 2016 by Jamie Henricks. One item may be missing – watercolor #7 in 88.36.9A watercolor portfolio.

Biographical Note

Marion and Lorne W. Bell lived in the Los Angeles area before World War II, and were sent to be administrators at Topaz Relocation Center from September, 1942 to October, 1943. Marion was born February 7, 1900 or 1901 in California, and died September 21, 1992 in Claremont, California. Lorne W. Bell was born in Michigan to Canadian parents, on July 16, 1901, and died in Los Angeles on March 14, 1984. Before Topaz, Lorne worked in various jobs in Los Angeles including a fitter at a ship yard in the 1920s, and later a secretary and administrator at the YMCA until the early 1940s. The Bells had two children, Barbara and Lorne W. Jr.

Scope and Content

This collection includes materials collected by and created primarily by Marion Bell, dating from 1942 to 1949 and 1974 to 1978, relating to her and her husband’s time spent at Topaz Relocation Center as administrators. The bulk of the collection are watercolor paintings and woodblock prints created by Marion Bell, Chiura Obata, Emily Minton, and George Hibi. A handwritten diary of Marion’s includes the first three months spent at Topaz. A transcription of the diary is available at the bottom of this page, under additional collection guides. The collection also includes a few articles, books, and a small collection of war ration books.

Related Materials

Photographs of other Topaz Relocation Center staff, including Marion and Lorne Bell, can be found online in the Eleanor Gerard Sekerak scrapbook, Topaz Museum Collection, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah. Another Topaz administrator family was also named Bell, and that other family had children whose pictures show up in multiple online collections. The Japanese American National Museum has other collections of WRA staff members, including the Hugo W. Wolter papers (97.329), and others. The museum also has extensive holdings of art by artists known by the Bells, including Hisako and George Hibi, and Chiura Obata.


Original arrangement was preserved.

Indexing Terms

Bell, Marion
Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
Central Utah Relocation Center
Watercolor painting

Additional collection guides: