William H. Bell

Dates1830 - 1910
RolesPhotographer, Daguerreotypist
BornLiverpool, England

William H. Bell's photographic career was long and varied. In 1848 he entered into a partnership with his brother-in-law in Philadelphia; the pair operated a daguerreian studio for two years, until Bell branched out on his own, at times collaborating with other operators.

A veteran of the Mexican War, Bell joined the Union Army and, after fighting in the battles of Antietam and Gettysburg during the American Civil War, he was appointed chief photographer of the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C. He established a studio in Philadelphia, and in 1872 Lieutenant George Wheeler, engineer of the fourth United States Geological Survey, commissioned Bell to accompany him as photographer on an expedition into Arizona. His extensive field experience led to later work as photographer for the Pennsylvania railroad and with an expedition to Patagonia.

Photography was a something of a family affair for Bell. His daughter Louise and her husband, William H. Rau, were also photographers.