Bell (Gertrude) Archive

Subject strengths: Archaeology, Politics, History, Travel

The University’s School of History, Classics and Archaeology collection of the papers of Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell (1868-1926) consist of Gertrude Bell's letters to her family, her diaries and a number of miscellaneous items. They are of particular interest to scholars of the archaeology or the early 20th century history of the Near and Middle East. The University's School of History, Classics and Archaeology curates the photographic section of the Gertrude Bell Archive which includes several thousand of her photographs, mainly (though not entirely) of archaeological sites. The photographs are included on the Gertrude Bell website (see finding aid below). Further details concerning the Photographic Archive can be obtained from Gianluca Foschi.

In 2017, the Gertrude Bell Archive was added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in recognition of its global significance. It is one of only a few archives to be recognised in this way in the UK. Find out more about the UNESCO’s recognition of the archive’s global significance in this press release.


Collection Name and Collection Reference Code:

Collection Name: Bell (Gertrude) Archive

Archive Ref Code: GB186/GB

Date Range of Material

1874 – 1926

Type of Material

The personal archive of Gertrude Bell

Size of Collection

7 Linear Metres of shelving 

Finding Aid

Transcripts of most of Gertrude Bell's letters and all of her diaries, together with digital copies of her extensive photograph albums, are available to browse at the dedicated Gertrude Bell website.

The Miscellaneous section of the archive, including notebooks, memoranda, reports, and manuscripts by Bell, is available here.

A collection of letters from Lieutenant Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie to Bell is currently in the process of being catalogued and a finding aid for these letters will be available shortly.  In the meantime if you have any queries about this portion of the archive please contact us.

How To Order Items From This Collection

Transcripts or digital copies of 1,827 letters, 16 diaries, and 50 photograph albums covering Bell’s expeditions and personal life are available to view via the Gertrude Bell website

All items can also be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room, with the exception of the photograph albums because of their current fragility. 

If you identify an item you would like to consult in the Special Collections Reading Room, simply make a note of the reference number and title of the item(s) you are interested in (for example Diary, 2/8/1895). You can then place your order by completing our Request Form.

Unable to visit our Reading Room?

Letters, Diaries and Miscellaneous section

If you are unable to visit our reading room, we have a virtual reading room and a digitisation service available.

Photograph Albums

Our co-curators in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology provide copies of the photographic section of the archive. Click here to make a request.

Other Resources

See Bell (Gertrude) Collection for Gertrude Bell's personal library. Other collections with family links to Gertrude Bell include Maurice (Bell) Collection (her brother),  Plowden (Lady Bridget) Archive (her niece), and Trevelyan (Charles Philips) Archive (her brother-in-law). 

Material from this archive was used in our Treasure of the Month feature for April 2015, September 2018 and January 2020.

Material from this archive has been included in the exhibition, 'Major Miss Bell: Gertrude Bell and the First World War'.

See more digitised content from this collection at CollectionsCaptured.