Charles Milton Bell

  (Redirected from C. M. Bell)

Charles Milton Bell (April 3, 1848 – May 12, 1893) was an American photographer who was noted for his portraits of Native Americans and other figures of the United States in the late 1800s. He was called "one of Washington's leading portrait photographers during the last quarter of the nineteenth century" by the Library of Congress.[1]

Charles Milton Bell
Charles Milton Bell (cropped).jpg
Image of C.M. Bell from his own studio.
BornApril 3, 1848
DiedMay 12, 1893 (1893-05-13) (aged 45)
Resting placeOak Hill Cemetery,
Washington, D.C.
38.913575, -77.058380
Other namesC.M. Bell
Known forPhotography
Spouse(s)Annie Colley
ChildrenCharles Milton Bell, Jr.
Colley Wood Bell

Bell was the youngest member of a photographer family who had a studio in Washington, DC in the 1860s and 1870s. He took over the family studio Bell & Brothers and started his own studio, C. M. Bell, in 1873.[2] Bell worked with Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, who sent visiting Native Americans to Bell's studio to have their portraits made. Bell also made photographs of Native Americans for the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of American Ethnology where he assisted in-house photographers.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Bell was married to Annie (Colley) Bell and they had two children Charles Milton Bell and Colley Wood Bell.[4]


After Bell's death in 1893, his wife continued to operate the studio with her sons. It was sold in the early 1900s to Atha and Cunningham who retained the original name. The negatives were sold to I. M. Boyce who sold the Native American images to the Bureau of American Ethnology and most of the remainder to Alexander Graham Bell.[5] From there they would up owned by the American Genetic Association who donated them to the Library of Congress. The C. M. Bell Studio Collection held at the Library of Congress 30,000 glass negatives from 1873 to 1916 created by the studio and its successors.[1]

Example worksEdit

Year Subject Image Dimensions Collection Comments
1879, January Chief Yellow Bull of the Nez Perce   Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire
1882 Chester A. Arthur (1829-1886), 21st President of the United States (1881-1885)   Film negative, B&W Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Digital ID cph 3a53294
1890-1893 Helen Adams Keller (1880-1968)   Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts Collodion print on card
1893 Omaha Chief   14 × 12 in. (35.6 × 30.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. Albumen silver print


  1. ^ a b "C. M. Bell Collection (Prints and Photographs Reading Room, Library of Congress)". Home | Library of Congress. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  2. ^ Hannavy, John (2008). Encyclopedia of nineteenth-century photography. New York: Routledge. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-415-97235-2. OCLC 123968757.
  3. ^ "Charles Milton Bell photographs of American Indians · SOVA". SOVA. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  4. ^ "Charles Milton Bell". Find A Grave. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  5. ^ Collins, Kathleen (1989). Washingtoniana : photographs : collections in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. Washington DC: Library of Congress. pp. 14-22. ISBN 0844405884. Retrieved 25 February 2019.

External linksEdit