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 A Mount Allison University Archives Virtual Exhibition


Further education


During the fall of 1907 and spring of 1908 Winthrop Bell returned to surveying work and was this time employed with the Trans-Continental Railway working primarily in Northern Ontario. However, he continued to express an interest in furthering his studies and later wrote.

"The material basis for many of the greatest satisfactions I have been able to have in life was provided by a gift from my mother; while later an inheritance from my father was the foundation for anything I have been able to add to it ... When, in 1908, I was working in Northern Ontario as a surveyor, saving money for postgraduate study, my mother wrote me that half of her little inheritance would ultimately be designed for me; that she did not need it in the meantime; and that she and my father thought it would be much the best, as I was already 24 years old, if I used the money in the next few years for the study I wanted to pursue." (Source: Mount Allison University Archives, Mount Allison University: A Historical Review of the Bell funds / Good, Jeff (1998) p. 91, 9942).

This promise of financial support led Winthrop Bell to apply to Harvard University to complete his Master of Arts in Philosophy. His admittance letter dated September 14, 1908 indicated that the only special condition that he needed to fulfill was a course in French. He began his program of studies and while at Harvard studied under Prof. Josiah Royce, an experience which would be of great importance as his education continued. Bell graduated from Harvard in 1909 and later that year set out to continue his studies in England.

Winthop Bell is featured in the front row left with members of his Cambridge rowing crew.

Portrait of Winthrop Bell's Cambridge rowing crew (Winthrop Bell is in the front row - second from the right), circa 1909-1910

May only be reproduced with the permission of the Mount Allison University Archives.

Winthrop Bell arrived in Liverpool, England on September 28, 1909 and very quickly became involved in the English university tradition of rowing. Bell attended lectures in October at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University, but unfortunately by the end of November had developed a bad cough. Over several months his health deteriorated and he was operated on for pleurisy on March 8, 1910.

His health improved but it was suggested that a continental climate might be more conducive to recovery so he made arrangements to go to Germany to recuperate and prepare for further studies. During the fall of 1910 he studied under Professors Richter, Volkelt, Brahn, Wundt, Eulenberg and Barth at the University of Leipzig. He also had the good fortune to regularly attend concerts at the Gewandhaus with renowned conductor, Arthur Nikisch.

While Dr. Bell was studying in Leipzig he was introduced to the work of Edmund Husserl who was teaching at Göttingen University at that time. He became interested in a particular aspect of Husserl's thinking and "I got the idea that Husserl might be the man I should want to learn from and work under." (Source: Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 8550/1/101 - Item no. 8).

He moved to Göttingen from Leipzig in February of 1911 and attended his first seminar with Prof. Husserl on April 29th. He returned to North America for the summer and spent much of it in Nova Scotia. It was to be the last time that he would see his parents.

Next topic: Winthrop Pickard Bell: Doctoral work with Prof. Edmund Husserl

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This virtual exhibition project was made possible through the generous support of the Marjorie Young Bell Endowment Fund Committee, Mount Allison University.