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William "Jack" Bell Papers

Identifier: 2008.131

Scope and Contents

This collection contains documents produced and collected by William "Jack" Bell from 1949 to 2000.

Series I. Correspondence and publications contains correspondence between Jack Bell and his former students, friends, colleagues, local government officials, and city residents, including handwritten documents, typewritten documents, and photographs, as well as various publications collected by Bell, including newsletters, newspapers, and the University of Missouri School of Journalism's Freedom of Information Center Publications.

Series II. Educational and professional involvement contains materials relating to East Texas State University (Bell's long-time employer), Emporia State University (his alma mater), and the Press Club of Dallas (of which he was a member). The ETSU materials include documents that Bell both created and collected on topics such as ethics, fundraising, the General Studies program, integration, the Department of Journalism, and public relations.

Series III. Intercollegiate athletics involvement contains materials relating to ETSU sports teams, the Lone Star Conference, and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). It includes correspondence and memoranda as well as related materials such as photographs, newspaper clippings, and statistics.

Series IV. Municipal and civic involvement is the largest series in the collection. It contains materials related to the City of Commerce, the First United Methodist Church, the Commerce Lions Club, and more regional endeavors such as Cooper Lake and highway construction. The City of Commerce materials include documents relating to the Municipal Airport, Bois d'Arc Bash, the city's centennial (1985), the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Center, Downtown Square, municipal legal matters, municipal politics, the Public Library, parks and recreation, and the water system. Materials in this series include correspondence, memoranda, maps, reports, financial documents, and legal documents.

Series V. Objects is the smallest series in the collection. It contains eight award plaques and two certificates bestowed upon Jack Bell.


  • 1949 - 2000


Conditions Governing Use

Items in this collection are protected by applicable copyright laws.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. William Jackson "Jack" Bell was a professor and department head (Department of Communications/Journalism and Graphic Arts) at East Texas State University who was also involved with intercollegiate athletics (at the university, conference, and national levels) as well as in the community (including as Mayor of Commerce and as a member of the Commerce Lions Club).

Bell was born in rural Decatur County, Kansas, on November 1, 1915, and graduated from Norcatur Rural High School in 1933. In 1937, he earned his Bachelor of Science from Kansas State Teachers College (later renamed Emporia State University) with majors in English and History & Government; in 1939, he earned his Master of Science from the same institution while majoring in Education and Social Science. Between 1937 and 1942 he taught journalism at Colby High School in Kansas while also editing the Colby Free Press-Tribune; at the same time, he served as a correspondent for numerous other papers, including the Topeka Daily Star, Omaha World-Herald, and Kansas City Star.

In May 1942, Bell married Marjorie Andrews of Rawlings, Kansas. Between 1942 and 1945, he served in the United States Naval Reserve in Kansas and Missouri in a "shore duty" recruiting position. In 1949, he earned a Ph.D. in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, where he also taught as a graduate assistant and directed the editorial page of the Columbia Missourian. After graduating, he served as an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma School of Journalism.

In September 1951, Bell was hired by East Texas State University (ETSU) as both a professor and as the head of its Department of Communications (later renamed the Department of Journalism and Graphic Arts). At ETSU, he served the athletic department in numerous different roles, including as Sports Information Director (1951-68), play-by-play announcer for football games, official scorekeeper for basketball games, and as a member of the ETSU Athletic Council (1954-85). He was also active in national intercollegiate athletics, as both the founder of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Sports Information Directors Association and as its national president from 1965-67; he was inducted into the NAIA-Helms Foundation Hall of Fame in 1970. In addition, during this period he was a sports correspondent for numerous newspapers, including the Austin American-Statesman, Dallas News, Dallas Times Herald, Houston Chronicle, Houston Post, San Antonio Light, and San Antonio News Express.

In addition to academic and athletic involvement, Bell was also greatly involved in the City of Commerce, serving on the city commission for 21 years, as mayor pro-tem for 11 years, and as Mayor of Commerce for 4 years. He also served as president of the Board of the Friends of the Commerce Public Library and was active in the Commerce Lions Club.

Bell stepped down from his position as a department head in 1983, and retired from teaching in 1985; that same year, ETSU named him a Professor Emeritus. He received numerous accolades for his various achievements: he was named a distinguished teacher by the Faculty Senate (1976), a Minnie Stevens Piper Professor (1982), and a Distinguished Alumnus of Emporia State University (1985), while he also received a Meritous Service Award from the ETSU Athletic Hall of Fame (1985), the Commerce Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Decade award (1989), and the President’s Spirit of Mayo Citation (1997).

Bell died in Commerce on January 1, 2003.


6.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Separated Materials

One print book was removed from this collection and added to the department's non-circulating library:

Holmes, Richard. World War II in Photographs. London: Carlton Books Limited, 2000. Print.

William "Jack" Bell Papers
Michael Barera
July 3, 2015
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, Waters Library, Texas A&M University-Commerce Repository