The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

Geneva H. Bell Textile Collection

The textiles of Geneva Howard Bell (1905-2013) became a part of The Filson’s museum collection in mid-2015. Geneva was the wife of Dr. Jesse B. Bell, a nationally-recognized physician and prominent figure in Kentucky’s African American community. Dr. Bell was the first African American physician to practice at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. Both Geneva and Dr. Bell worked tirelessly to improve health and education for Kentucky children. Geneva was an active member of Mount Lebanon Missionary Baptist Church and a teacher in the Louisville Public School System.

The collection consists of twenty-eight pieces varying from shift dresses to hats, accessories and outerwear. The items represent fashions from the 1960s-80s and are a wonderful compliment to the Jesse B. Bell Photograph Collection (006PC5); Jesse Bennett Bell (1904-1998) Papers, 1924-1998 (Mss. A B433 1-21); and the Dr. Bell portrait (1999.13.1). The textiles were processed in May 2015 by Filson volunteer and museum professional Jennifer Spence.

The following gallery highlights only a portion of the collection; researchers may visit The Filson and view the remaining items digitally through PastPerfect, The Filson’s museum software database.


Johna Ebling, Associate Curator of Collections