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 A Mount Allison University Archives Virtual Exhibition

 

Teaching career

 

Winthrop Bell had been approached by the University of Toronto in January of 1921 to determine if he was interested in teaching at the institution. He received confirmation of his teaching appointment from the University of Toronto in a letter dated June 28, 1921 and he began lecturing that fall. He served primarily as a examiner and lecturer in philosophy. He resided in a suite at Hart House during his time in Toronto and finished his duties in May of 1922. That same month his doctorate was re-instated by Göttingen University which may explain why he decided to move on to Harvard University in the fall of 1922.

Winthrop Bell's membership card to Hart House at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Winthrop Bell's membership card to Hart House at the University of Toronto, 1921-1922

Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, 6501/11/1/7/1

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

Bell next served as an Assistant in Philosophy at Harvard University. The schedule was quite rigorous and he appears to have initially enjoyed his time at the institution and was very much involved in the academic and cultural community there. He became a member of the Harvard Club in December of 1922 and was a regular attendee of the Boston Symphony and a number of other performing groups on campus and in the city of Boston.

While at Harvard he was also able to meet and forge relationships with such intellectual luminaries as Professors Gerhart von Schulze-Gaevernitz, William Ernest Hocking, Benjamin Rand, and George H. Palmer among others. His time there was very busy and this was compounded by his continuing involvement with his brother’s business activities in Nova Scotia and the building that they jointly owned at 131-133 Granville Street in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Dr. Bell, in a letter to his brother, described his position at Harvard in very humble terms. During the first few years that he was there he oversaw one of the dormitories which provided him with free rent to fill out his income. After his marriage to Hazel Deinstadt on October 7, 1925 he had to give that up and instead took on additional teaching duties at Radcliffe College to supplement his income and help to maintain his household. (Source: Mount Allison University Archives, Winthrop Pickard Bell fonds, Letter from Winthrop Bell to Ralph Bell dated December 10, 1954, 8550/4/3 - File no. 1 - Item no. 4).

Dr. Bell took the 1925-1926 academic year off from work, as he and his new wife set up house in a cottage in Chester, Nova Scotia. The year appears to have been challenging because his new bride was not well and he became further involved in the work of his brother’s businesses. In March of 1927 he also lost a number of personal belongings and much of his earlier correspondence in a fire at the J.E. Morse warehouse in Halifax. Dr. Bell particularly regretted the loss of his correspondence with his father.

Bell completed his final year at Harvard in 1927. He would never return to an active teaching role but his interest in history and philosophy would continue for the balance of his life and his academic legacy was still waiting to be completed.


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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.