James Ford Bell Library

Welcome to the James Ford Bell Library

Are you curious? Have you ever seen, read, or touched a 600-year-old book?

The Bell Library makes history come alive through its collection of rare books, maps and manuscripts that focus on trade and cross-cultural interaction before ca. 1800. Our premier collection illustrates the ways in which cultural influences expanded worldwide, with a special emphasis on European interactions. The James Ford Bell Library, its collection, and its innovative programs support scholarship and education at all levels, and enrich our community by advancing understanding of this global heritage, making the world we live in more meaningful.

Family in from out of town? Interested in maps? History? Plan a visit to the James Ford Bell Library. On your own or in a group, we’ll be delighted to show you some of our treasures – like the “Map that Named America,” or a hand-drawn sketch of the Rio Negro in South America by explorer/scientist Alexander von Humboldt—one of the most significant cartographic records from his 1799-1804 expedition. To schedule your visit in advance, please contact us at 612-624-1528 or jfbell@umn.edu. And check out our General Information page for hours, directions, and other valuable information.

Children are welcome! It is never too early to develop an appreciation for these wonderful historical treasures. Please let us know in advance if you are bringing children between the ages of 1 and 6; we'll discuss with you the options for viewing materials.

Map of the Holy Land, 1475Map of the Holy Land, 1475

New Acquisition Features Cartographic Firsts!

The Rudimentum Novitiorum has been added to the Bell Library collection, a generous gift from the James Ford Bell Trust. First printed in Lübeck in 1475, this basic chronicle of the world, steeped in Christian history, includes two woodcut maps, believed to be the first printed maps of their kind in Western Europe: a map of the Holy Land, shown here, and a map of the world. It is a forerunner of the more widely known Nuremberg Chronicle. This special acquisition will be on exhibit in the Bell Room at the Library now through January 31, 2016. And, like all of our collection, when not on exhibit it may be requested for viewing at any time during our open hours. Learn more

Video Promotes the Bell Library as a "Jewel in the Crown" of the University

Final Map Count is 22,413!

The "reveal" part of our "Revealing Maps" project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities is completed. A total of 22,413 maps were identified and targeted for scanning. To date, more than 17,000 have been scanned. Metadata is being collected and as it is completed, maps are uploaded to our Historical Maps collection within the UMedia Archive, the University of Minnesota Libraries digital repository: Bell Digital Collection. All of these maps are freely accessible online, with pan and zoom features to enable detailed study. Low resolution versions may be downloaded for use in power point presentations and class assignments. Scholars who need higher resolution versions for publication may obtain them by contacting the Bell Library curatorial staff. Maps are added regularly so check back frequently. A new interface on the Bell Library web site will be available soon to facilitate discovery.

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This project is made possible through funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom. "Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities."

Convento y Hospital de Refugio, Lima, Peru

Account Book, Convento y Hospital de RefugioAccount Book, Convento y Hospital de Refugio

Manuscript Account Book, 85 leaves. September 1723 - June 1793

This 18th-century account book contains monthly totals of accounts payable and receivable for the convent and hospital, plus details of monies received from rents and benefactions (donations). Also included are records of patients (often indigent, among them present and former enslaved persons), the length of their stays, and the cost of their treatment and maintenance. Two audits from the Padre Prefecto also appear in the folio.

Officially known as the Convento y Hospital de Santa Toribio de Refugio de Incurables de la Religión Bethlehemitica de la Ciudad de Lima, “Incurables” was run by the Bethlemite order. The order was founded in the mid-seventeenth century by Pedro Betancourt, and eventually operated small hospitals in present-day Mexico and a number of Latin American countries, including Peru. Incurables served as a convalescent hospital for patients to whom other hospitals would not provide care, though Spaniards were also treated there. The brothers collected rents from land on the island of Callao, as well as rent from a house on Trinidad Street and a store (pulperia). The Sisters of Mercy took over the hospital in the mid-nineteenth century, a product of the appropriation of Church property during the independence period.

What's Happening

Our Spring Semester hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please note that due to class meetings, group...

Read an 18th-century Chinese novel and share it with the world! That is what advanced undergraduates and graduate students will get to...

The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference and the Bell Library have partnered to offer...

To facilitate access to Bell Library materials, we have compiled a list of all Bell Library materials that are not yet part of MNCAT...

O. Meredith Wilson Library
309 19th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55455
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Monday - Friday
8:30am - 4:30pm
Weekends: Closed
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Phone: 612-624-1528
E-mail: jfbell@umn.edu
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