The Jackson School of Geosciences

William Charles Bell (1911-1979)

Charles “Charlie” Bell was born on November 1, 1911, in Missoula, Montana. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Montana State University in 1934 and 1936, respectively, and was awarded a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1939.

Bell was an Instructor at UT-Austin in 1940-41. After serving in the armed forces during World War II, he taught from 1946 to 1953 at the University of Minnesota. He joined the permanent faculty of UT-Austin as Professor in 1953, where he taught stratigraphy, invertebrate paleontology, and photographic techniques applied to paleontology until his retirement following an incapacitating stroke in 1972. Dr. Bell was a strong advocate of proper use of stratigraphic principles and the Stratigraphic Code. Even after retirement, he would attend Technical Sessions presentations of stratigraphic topics and chastise speakers who made goofs in stratigraphic nomenclature or procedure. During his active years each spring Bell led his new graduate students on a field trip to key Pennsylvanian outcrops in the Llano region. This trip inevitably ended in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, and this leg of the field trip was considered an important cultural event by many students. Dr. Bell supervised 16 MA students and 7 PhD students. Several of his students became leaders in academe and industry.

Bell was skilled in several aspects of photography in addition to the professional skill of photographing small fossils. He had a large file of candid photos of famous geologists that he met at national and international geology meetings.

Dr. Bell’s research interests included Cambrian, Ordovician, and Pennsylvanian stratigraphy. He co-authored Early Upper Cambrian Faunas of

Central Montana (1944) and published a number of articles in the Journal of Paleontology and in the Geological Society of America Bulletin. He was a member of the Paleontological Society and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Professor Emeritus Charles Bell died on July 3, 1979 at age 67.