BCCC receives donation of archival materials

Published 7:20 pm Saturday, April 14, 2012

About 50 years ago, Joyce Andreoli Bell’s husband was curious about a flower that grows wild on Ocracoke Island.

The flower, which resembles a black-eyed Susan, was called the “Joe Bell” flower by the island’s locals because Joe Bell planted one package of flower seeds and they spread all over the island.

Her husband wanted to know more about his great-uncle, Joe Bell.

Joyce Bell discovered that Joe Bell was a watchmaker who had traveled widely; that he was in San Francisco during the infamous earthquake and had visited Alaska before returning to Ocracoke, where his father owned a jewelry store.

The search for information about Joe Bell not only led Mrs. Bell to information about that particular ancestor but also revived a longtime interest in research and genealogy.

“I love research,” she said in a recent interview. “There’s always something I’m looking for.”

As a result, Mrs. Bell accumulated historical records as she researched her family history and the history of other families throughout northeastern North Carolina.

And recently, she gave many of those materials to the library at Beaufort County Community College where patrons can visit the new Joyce Andreoli Bell Genealogy Room to use those materials, along with other previously donated items, to research their family histories.

“Mrs. Bell has generously donated numerous historical and genealogical items to Beaufort County Community College Library,” said Penny Sermons, director of BCCC’s learning resources and distance education. “These resources support the high value we place on preserving the heritage of our community and will enhance and expand our local history collection.”

Many of the items donated by Mrs. Bell have been catalogued and are accessible to library patrons via BCCC’s online public access catalog, according to Sermons.

The college also plans to digitize Mrs. Bell’s materials and add them to our CIRCA NCEast site, making them available for patrons to access over the Internet, she said.

A native of Raleigh, Mrs. Bell has roots deep in eastern North Carolina through both her family and her husband’s family.

She moved to Washington in 1938 as a four-year old after her father began work with and opened the local Carolina Dairies.

During a 39-year career as a nurse, Mrs. Bell’s work included working at hospitals, doctors’ offices and nursing homes. As a nurse and as the mother of four children, Mrs. Bell was always interested in learning how diseases affect families and are passed from one generation to the next.

And in her spare time, her interest in researching family histories led her to become one of the founding members of the Beaufort County Genealogical Society.

Her activities with the society led to far-ranging travels and interesting historical finds.

In addition to routine visits to area courthouses to research documents found there, Mrs. Bell traveled frequently to the N.C. Division of Archives and History headquarters in Raleigh and once traveled to Utah to research the extensive collection of materials held there by the Mormon Church.

“I had a genuine interest in taking one particular family and going back as far as it can go,” Mrs. Bell said. “I started out trying to find out as much about Joe Bell as I could and the first thing I knew, I was getting into it.”

“I found myself amassing a collection of books to help me do research over the years and I wanted the public to know that there are resources there to help them do the same type of research I did,” she said.

Her long-standing ties to BCCC and help from Betty Ferrell, a librarian at the college, led Mrs. Bell to donate the materials to the college.

“Due to the gracious and knowledgeable help of Betty Ferrell while I was doing research at the college, I decided to donate my collection to BCCC so the public could have access to it,” Mrs. Bell said.

Mrs. Bell is a graduate of BCCC’s nursing program, earning both a practical nursing degree and associate degree nursing from BCCC. More recently she has taught genealogy, nursing assistant and Emergency Medical Technician classes through the Division of Continuing Education at BCCC.

For more information about the genealogical materials available at BCCC, interested persons should contact the Circulation Desk at the Learning Resources Center at 940-6282 or visit http://www.beaufortccc.edu/LRC/Library/librarymain.htm.

The library and the Joyce Andreoli Bell Collection are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays.