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Eric Temple Bell Papers
MS 58  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Access
  • Acquisition Information
  • Preferred Citation
  • Publication Rights
  • Separated Material

  • Creator: Bell, Eric Temple
    Title: Eric Temple Bell papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1918-1991
    Extent: 8 document boxes, 1 flat
    Abstract: This archive contains manuscripts, and typescripts for many of Bell's works both mathematical and science fiction.
    Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to these papers.
    Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
    Santa Cruz, California 95064
    Collection number: MS 58
    Language: English


    Born: Feb.7,1883 in Aberdeen, Scotland
    Died: Dec.21,1960 in Watsonville, California, USA
    The cowboys have a way of trussing up a steer or a pugnacious bronco which fixes the brute so that it can neither move nor think. This is the hog-tie, and it is what Euclid did to geometry. E.T. Bell, The Search For Truth
    Eric Temple Bell although born and brought up in Scotland, lived from 1903 in the United States. He was educated at Stanford University and at the University of Washington. He received his doctorate from Columbia University in 1912 for the dissertation The Cyclotomic Quinary Quintic. His doctoral work was supervised by Frank Nelson Cole. Bell taught mathematics at the University of Washington from 1912 until 1926, when he was appointed professor of mathematics at the California Institute of Technology. Bell wrote several popular books on the history of mathematics. He also made contributions to analytic number theory, Diophantine analysis and numerical functions. The American Mathematical Society awarded him the Bocher Prize in 1924 for his memoir, Arithmetical Paraphrases, which appeared in the Transactions of the American Mathematical Society in 1921. Although he wrote 250 research papers, including the one which received the Bocher Prize, Bell is best remembered for his books, and therefore as an historian of mathematics. His books Algebraic Arithmetic (1927) and The Development of Mathematics, (1940) became classics. At a lower level he wrote books which included Men of Mathematics (1937) and Mathematics, Queen and Servant of Science (1951). Bell did not confine his writing to mathematics and he also wrote science fiction. Under his best-known pseudonym, John Taine, he authored the following science fiction titles:
    • The Cosmic Geoids [Fantasy Publishing Co. Inc., 1949] novel + story
    • The Crystal Horde [Fantasy, 1952]
    • a.k.a. White Lilly [Dover, 1966]
    • The Forbidden Garden [Fantasy, 1947]
    • G.O.G. 666 [Fantasy, 1954]
    • The Gold Tooth [Dutton, 1927; Burr, 1929]
    • The Greatest Adventure [Dutton, 1929; Ace; Dover]
    • Green Fire [Dutton, 1928; Fantasy Publishing Co. Inc., 19521
    • The Iron Star [Dutton, 1930; Fantasy Publishing Co. Inc., 1952; Hyperion]
    • Seeds of Life [Fantasy, 1951; Galaxy Novel #13; Dover]
    • The Time Stream [Buffalo, 1946; Dover; Garland, 1976]
    • Quayle's Invention [Dutton, 1927]
    • The Purple Sapphire [Dutton, 1924; Dover]
    A. Broadbent described Bell and his writing in the following way:

    "His style is clear and exuberant, his opinions, whether we agree with them or not, are expressed forcefully, often with humor and a little gentle malice. He was no uncritical hero-worshipper being as quick to mark the opportunity lost as the ground gained, so that from his books we get a vision of mathematics as a high activity of the questing human mind, often fallible, but always pressing on the never-ending search for mathematical truth".

    Gillispie, Charles Coulston. Dictionary of Scientific Biography.New York:Scribner,1970-1980.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. "Bell, Eric Temple".[Accessed 22 October 1999].

    Broadbent, A. "Eric Temple Bell". Nature 4763,1961.

    Reid, Constance. The Search for E.T. Bell : also known as John Taine Washington D.C.:Mathematical Association of America,1993.

    Scope and Content

    This archive contains manuscripts, and typescripts for many of Bell's works both mathematical and science fiction. Also included is an original unpublished manuscript Class Number Forumlas, by J. Ouspenski.


    The archive is arranged by title.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Bell, Eric Temple, 1883-1960--Archives.
    Taine, John
    Science fiction


    Collection is open for research.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Drs. Janet and Taine Bell in May 1969.

    Preferred Citation

    Eric Temple Bell Papers, MS 58, Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Separated Material

    The books have been cataloged separately. Please see Cruzcat, the online catalog.