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Bell, James Washington, 1890-1966



  • Existence: 1890 - 1966

James Washington Bell was born on August 26, 1890 in Boulder, Colorado, the son of James Washington Bell and Delphine Paradis Bell. Bell took a B.A. degree in Philosophy and Languages from the University of Colorado in 1912 and an M.A. degree in Economics and Government, also from the University of Colorado, in 1913. Harvard University awarded Bell a Ph.D. in Economics in 1918. His doctoral dissertation was entitled Taxation of Railways in New England. Bell received the Norlin Achievement Medal from the University of Colorado Alumni Association in 1938. In 1955, the University of Colorado awarded Bell an honorary LL.D. degree.

While working on his M.A., Bell was an assistant and instructor in Economics at Colorado. He was also a teaching fellow and tutor at Harvard from 1915 to 1918. From 1918 to 1919 Bell served in the American Expeditionary Force in France and after demobilization in 1919 with the American Red Cross in Paris.

Bell's first full-time academic appointment was as an Assistant Professor at Williams College from 1919 to 1923. Bell came to Northwestern as an Associate Professor of Money and Banking in 1923. He was promoted to Professor in 1929 and remained a Northwestern faculty member for the remainder of his career. He was appointed Professor Emeritus in 1955. Bell also served as a Visiting Professor at Ohio State University during the spring of 1955-1956 and at Southern Illinois University during the spring of 1958-1959. Bell taught seminars in Economics in India for the U.S. Department of State in 1958.

Bell held several administrative posts at Northwestern. He directed the Graduate Division of the School of Commerce from 1926 to 1937 and headed the School's Department of Finance from 1926 to 1941. Bell was a member of the Administrative Board of Northwestern's Graduate School from 1933 to 1937 and from 1937 to 1941 he served as Acting Dean of the Graduate School. He also served as Chairman of the Economics Department of the College of Liberal Arts from 1942 to 1951.

Bell was a member of several professional organizations. He served as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Economic Association from 1936 to 1962, he also edited the AEA's Papers and Proceedings, Directory and Handbook. He was a delegate and later President of the Conference of Secretaries of the American Council of Learned Societies. He was a founder of the Economists' National Committee on Monetary Policy in 1933 and served as its Vice-President from 1933 to 1949, as Acting President from 1949 to 1953 and as President from 1953 until 1966. Bell chaired the Research Council of the Institute of Economic Research from 1932 to 1933. He served as President of the Northwestern chapter of the American Association of University Professors (see Series 4/6/1), and was a Fellow of the Royal Economic Society. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta, Alpha Kappa Psi, Alpha Pi Zeta (see Series 4/6/2) and Beta Gamma Sigma fraternities. Bell also belonged to the University Clubs of Evanston and Chicago and the Harvard Club of Chicago. Bell served as Director for two Chicago banks: the National Bank of Commerce and the Citizens National Bank.

Bell's publications include A Guide to the Study of Money and Banking (third edition, 1935), A Proper Monetary and Banking System for the United States (edited with Walter Earl Spahr, 1960) and several articles and reports in financial and economic journals and in encyclopedias. Bell died in Evanston on December 21, 1966; interment was in Boulder, Colorado.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

James Washington Bell (1890-1966) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/10/3
Abstract James Washington Bell came to Northwestern University as an Associate Professor of Money and Banking in 1923. He was promoted to Professor in 1929 and remained a Northwestern faculty member for the remainder of his career. His papers consist of biographical materials, general correspondence, subject files, and course files.
Dates: 1922-1961