Welcome to the James Ford Bell Library

Sea monster, 1539

Advancing Knowledge : Enriching Lives

The Bell Library makes history come alive through its collection of rare books, maps and manuscripts that focus on trade and cultural 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. 


We've Moved!

The James Ford Bell Library is now in its new home:  Suite 15 on the ground floor of Elmer L. Andersen Library.  This newly renovated space features a dedicated, high-tech seminar room, a bright and airy reading room, and enlarged exhibit space.  The collection is housed in its own underground, climate-controlled vault. 

Andersen Library is home to the U of MN Libraries's Archives and Special Collections Department, of which the Bell Library is a part.  With this move, the department is now located in a single building, providing a more integrated and convenient experience for students and researchers.  Now, for example, a student interested in how Western perceptions of China changed over time can access relevant material from the Bell Library, the YMCA Archive, the Children's Literature Research Center, the Performing Arts Archive, and the Immigration History Research Center Archive all in the same building, even compare images side-by-side in the same reading room.

We hope you'll visit soon.

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The Revealing Maps Project 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.

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