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 email@example.com. 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, 1475
New Acquisition Features Cartographic Firsts!
The Rudimentum Novitiorum has recently 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 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.
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."