Just one of many photographs of
Robert "Bob" Eugene Bell was born October 13, 1926, in Tarrant City, Alabama. After graduating Phillips High School in Birmingham, Alabama, he earned a bachelor's degree in English from Birmingham-Southern in 1950. He also attended Harvard University, from where he obtained a master's degree in English in 1952. Bell continued his education by attending Louisiana State University during the summer of 1953. In 1955 he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and became assistant director at the Fort Worth Public Library. While in Fort Worth, he published his novel, The Butterfly Tree (1959, reprinted 1992).
Bell and his partner Mark Hanrahan opened the Banquette Book Shop in New Orleans and San Francisco in 1962, and he was a co-owner until 1971. Bell also began working at the New Orleans Public Library at this time but returned to his native Mobile a took a position with the Mobile Public Library in 1963 as head of adult services. He remained in Mobile until 1965 when he returned to New Orleans to take a similar position. In 1966 the Orleans Parish grand jury indicted him on public contract fraud charges (using the power of his office at the library to obtain business for the Banquette Book Shop), and Bell resigned from his position in the New Orleans Public Library. He then completed a master's degree in librarianship at LSU in 1967.
Shortly after graduation from LSU, Bell enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley School of Librarianship, where he earned a Ph.D. in 1974. After that he lectured at the School of Library and Information Services at Berkeley from 1974 until 1976, and also became reference librarian at the City College of San Francisco at this time. Bell then moved to work at the University of California at Davis library as head of humanities and social science reference. He remained at Davis until his retirement in 1991. During this time, he published three mythology reference books.
Bell was an avid stamp collector, traveled the world, and loved cats. He passed away November 19, 1999, at Woodland Memorial Hospital in California. His partner, Mark Hanrahan died in October 2009. The finding aid to the collection is available on this web site.