The Winthrop Pickard Bell Collection of Acadiana concentrates on the land area of historic Acadie and includes material on the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and on eastern Maine to the Penobscot and Kennebec rivers. The primary time focus is prior to 1945, although selected material for the later period is also collected.
The Collection was established in 1967 with a gift of the private research library of Winthrop Pickard Bell, who graduated form Mount Allison in 1904 with a degree in mathematics. Dr . Bell went on to do work in engineering and philosophy, receiving a doctorate from the University of Gottingen in 1914. He was in Germany at the outbreak of the war, and was subsequently required to spend the next four years in an internment camp at Ruhleben. After the war he spent some time doing diplomatic work in Europe for the British government.
A lifetime of interest in the history of the Maritimes culminated in the publication of a major history of settlement in Nova Scotia, The Foreign Protestants and the Settlement of Nova Scotia, which was published by the University of Toronto Press in 1961. The library which he accumulated during this work was donated to the University in 1967, forming the nucleus of the collection which now bears his name.
The W.P. Bell Collection presently has over 14,000 volumes in all languages and in all formats. An active acquisitions programme is maintained through support from the endowment for the W.P. Bell Chair in Maritime Studies. It is housed in the Rare Book Room on the Main floor of the University Library.