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Accession 18559

Bell, Daniel, 1919-2011. Daniel Bell personal archive, 1903-2008 : an inventory

Harvard University Archives

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Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Accession 18559
Repository: Harvard University Archives
Creator: Bell, Daniel, 1919-2011
Title: Daniel Bell personal archive
Date(s): 1903-2008
Quantity: 198 cubic feet (211 boxes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Daniel Bell personal archive documents the academic and professional career of Daniel Bell as a teacher, writer, consultant, and researcher, with the heaviest concentration of material dating from 1940 to 1990. The collection is a valuable resource for research in the intellectual history of the social sciences and the study of the economic and social trends that shaped American society in the twentieth century. Bell was a prolific researcher, correspondent, and author, and thus much of the collection consists of correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts, lectures, and course materials. The collection documents Bell's principal areas of research including labor and its central relationship to capital; socialism's impact on American political life; ideologies in the organization of society; and the development of the post-industrial society. Also documented in this collection are Bell's interests in forecasting methodology, the impact of technology in society, higher education, and capitalism's cultural contradictions.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

The Daniel Bell personal archive was acquired by the Harvard University Archive through donation:
  • Accession 18559; received 2012 September 20 from David Bell and Jordy Bell.
  • Processing Information:

    Processed January 2013-November 2017 by Kate Bowers, Dominic Grandinetti, Juliana Kuipers, Olivia Mandica-Hart, Robin McElheny, and Jennifer Pelose.
    Wherever possible, the archivists tried to retain the original arrangement established by Bell. Bell's original folder titles were retained, and any folder titles and dates supplied by the archivists appear in brackets.
    Restrictions on access appear at the folder level.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    Most of the Daniel Bell personal archive is open for research with the following exceptions: Access to Harvard University administrative records in this collection is restricted for 50 years. Student and personnel records are closed to research use for 80 years.
    Restrictions are noted at the folder level.

    Preferred Citation:

    Bell, Daniel, 1919-2011. Daniel Bell personal archive, 1903-2008. Accession 18559, Harvard University Archives.

    Related Materials

    The Harvard University Archives also holds:

    Biographical / Historical

    Daniel Bell (1919-2011), sociologist, writer, and educator, was the Henry Ford II Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University, where he taught from 1969 to 1990. Bell's main academic focus was on post-industrialism; he posited that the age of an industrial mass production economy was being replaced by an information- and service-based consumerist economy founded on technology. He also wrote extensively on the failures of socialism in America.
    Born Daniel Bolotsky in 1919 in New York City to immigrant Jewish parents from Eastern Europe, his family changed its last name to Bell when he was thirteen years old. He received a Bachelor's degree in Science and Social Science from the City College of New York in 1938, then studied for one more year to earn a Master's degree at Columbia University in 1939.
    Bell began his professional life as a journalist. In 1941, he joined the staff of the New Leader magazine, where he became managing editor, and from 1948 to 1959, he was labor editor of Fortune magazine. For two years he also edited, the bulletin of the Union for Democratic Action, a precursor to the postwar liberal anti-communist group, Americans for Democratic Action. He then shifted to a career in academia, beginning with a teaching position at the University of Chicago in the 1940s. However, his passion for journalism persisted throughout his career; in 1965, together with colleague Irving Kristol, Bell founded and edited Public Interest, a social policy journal.
    In 1959, Bell joined the sociology faculty at Columbia University, where he remained until 1969. While at Columbia, Bell earned a PhD in 1960 for his dissertation entitled, "The End of Ideology: On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifties," which was immediately published for public consumption. During his time at Columbia, he also wrote Reforming of General Education (1968), which was commissioned by Dean Jacques Barzun as an overall guide for universities interested in providing a liberal arts education. In 1965, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences initiated the Commission on the Year 2000 to investigate structural changes in society that would have a long-term social impact; Bell served as the Commission's chairman.
    In 1969, Bell was invited to teach at Harvard University through an initiative begun by Dean McGeorge Bundy to bring broad intellectuals to Harvard. While Bell was at Harvard, he published two of his most notable works: The Coming of Post- Industrial Society (1973) and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1978), which were both ranked among the 100 most influential books since World War II by The Times Literary Supplement in London.
    In addition to his writings and teaching, Bell participated in various government initiatives. During the 1950s, he worked with the CIA-sponsored Congress for Cultural Freedom, an anti-communist advocacy group. He also served as a member of the President's Commission on Technology from 1964 to 1965, and, in 1979, as a member of the President's Commission on a National Agenda for the 1980s. Bell was also the visiting Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University in 1987.
    Over the course of his career, Bell received several awards and distinctions, including honorary degrees from Harvard and 17 other universities, the Tocqueville Prize, awarded by the French government (1999), the Talcott Parsons Prize for the Social Sciences from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1993), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Sociological Association (1992). Bell also wrote and edited many other books, including Marxian Socialism in the United States (1952), The New American Right (1955), and Toward the Year 2000 (1968). His first two marriages, to Nora Potashnick and Elaine Graham, ended in divorce; his marriage to Potashnick produced one daughter, Jordy Bell (born 1960). Bell married literary critic Pearl Kazin (1922-2011) in 1960; the couple had one child, David Bell (born 1961). Bell died on January 25, 2011 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Arrangement

    Although the collection is arranged in the order in which it was acquired by the Harvard University Archives, archivists assigned topical categories to each of the folders in the collection. The categories are as follows:

    Scope and Contents

    The Daniel Bell personal archive documents the academic and professional career of Daniel Bell as a teacher, writer, consultant, and researcher, with the heaviest concentration of material dating from 1940 to 1990. The collection is a valuable resource for research in the intellectual history of the social sciences and the study of the economic and social trends that shaped American society in the twentieth century. Bell was a prolific researcher, correspondent, and author, and thus much of the collection consists of correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts, lectures, and course materials. The collection documents Bell's principal areas of research including labor and its central relationship to capital; socialism's impact on American political life; ideologies in the organization of society; and the development of the post-industrial society. Also documented in this collection are Bell's interests in forecasting methodology, the impact of technology in society, higher education, and capitalism's cultural contradictions.
    Bell, "a relentless publisher," appears to have kept everything related to his prolific and disparate research interests, including news clippings, reprints, journal and magazine articles, government reports, newsletters, and newspapers. Hence, a majority of the collection consists of these research files. Correspondence files include Bell's communication with many members of a group of American writers and literary critics based in New York City in the mid-20th century, known as the New York Intellectuals, including Sidney Hook, Lionel Trilling, Irving Howe, Hannah Arendt, and Mary McCarthy. Other correspondence files document Bell's involvement with the American Committee for Cultural Freedom, the United States affiliate of the anti-Communist Congress for Cultural Freedom. During the Cold War, the Congress for Cultural Freedom sought to encourage intellectuals to be critical of the Soviet Union and Communism and combat the strength of the Soviet myth among the Western cultural elite. Organization and Association files document Bell's activities as the editor and contributing editor to several academic journals including The New Leader, The Public Interest, Daedalus, Partisan Review, The American Scholar,The American Prospect, and Dissent. Other organization files document Bell's activities as a member of several government commissions and public policy organizations including the President's Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
    Manuscripts and drafts found among Bell's writings in this collection document his intellectual work for over a fifty year period. Among the most prominent files are those related to Bell's most influential books, The End of Ideology (1960), The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976), and The Coming of the Post-Industrial Society (1973). The collection also contains records produced by Bell as a professor at the University of Chicago (1945-1948), Columbia University (1959-1969), and at Harvard University (1969-1989, emeritus 1990). Personal materials include diplomas, family correspondence, photographs, and a limited amount of material related to Bell's wife, literary critic Pearl Bell. Talk and lecture files document Bell's participation at conferences, roundtable discussions, workshops, and seminars on a wide variety of topics both in the United States and abroad. Scattered among the files are photographs, film negatives, compact disks, and video cassette tapes.

    Inventory update

    This document last updated 2017 November 21.

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