The James Washington Bell Papers, comprising three boxes, are arranged in three categories: general correspondence, subject files and course files. The first folder in the series contains biographical materials and newspaper clippings.
The general correspondence, comprising only one-quarter of one box, is arranged at the folder level by year and within folders by date. The correspondence is mainly incoming and spans the years from 1939 to 1946. The bulk of this small amount of correspondence falls in the years 1940 and 1941. The correspondence of 1940 and 1941 largely concerns the activities of the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and especially the Chicago and Evanston chapters of the Committee. Bell took an active role in this Committee and spoke before the Evanston chapter on the "Economic Consequences of a Nazi Victory." The correspondence folder for 1941 includes Bell's notes for this speech. The folder for 1940 includes one letter to Bell from Adlai E. Stevenson (August 29) and one from U.S. Representative Ralph E. Church of Illinois (September 16). The 1941 folder contains one letter to Bell from Paul H. Douglas (September 30). This folder also contains correspondence concerning Bell's resignation as Acting Dean of the Graduate School. Correspondence from 1942 to 1946 is largely routine and often pertains to publications concerning economic issues sent to Bell by a variety of individuals and organizations.
The subject files comprise only two folders. The first folder concerns the American Economic Association and contains printed Reports of the Committee on Elections from 1947 to 1949 and Announcements of Meetings of the AEA from 1949, 1956, 1961. The second folder concerns Northwestern's Commencement programs for 1945 and contains memoranda, seating charts and academic procession orders for Baccalaureate and Commencement services.
The course files, spanning the dates from 1922 to 1947, by far comprise the bulk of Bell's Papers. These files generally contain syllabi, examination questions, grades and often seating charts for courses taught by Bell. There are also some materials for courses he did not teach. Some of the course folders also include correspondence and the folders for Bell's course on Money, Credit and Prices, conducted as a seminar include minutes of course meetings and student papers. The course files are arranged alphabetically according to course title: Bank Practice and Policy, Banking Systems and Money Markets, Corporation Finance, Money and Banking, and Money, Credit and Prices. Folders are arranged within these categories by year and sometimes within years by academic semester.