Scope and arrangement
The bulk of the collection reflects Bell's work as a writer. The original folder titles were retained and reflect Bell's habit of labeling a folder by its subject rather then article title. In addition to these subject files, there are files on both of his books, on movies he reviewed, on gay and mainstream publications he wrote for, and more general files including correspondence, news clippings, photographs, publicity material, and scrapbooks. The subject files contain correspondence, holograph notes, news clippings, printed matter, and typescripts. Files often include correspondence from readers responding to an article, and have both negative and positive reactions to his work. This is particularly the case on the subjects pertaining to gay culture. Often there are cards or letters from the interviewee, such as Joan Blondell, Ellen Burstyn, and Wendy Carlos, responding to the published interview. The file on Cruising contains a leaked copy of the script and material regarding the campaign against the shooting Cruising in the East Village. Prospective works are also represented, such as a prospectus for a biography of Lenny Bruce, and two unpublished collections, one on celebrity reporting and the other on journalism, and prospective ventures, like Bell's short-lived stint hosting a cabaret night at the West Village bar Reno Sweeney.
Bell's correspondence documents his transition from working at Random House to becoming a full time writer, and has letters from readers, other writers, invitations to shows or parties, and a small amount of personal correspondence. Noted correspondents include William Atherton, Kitty Kelly, Burt Reynolds, Don Shewey, Randy Shilts, Frank Sinatra, Liz Smith, and Elly Stone. There are two scrapbooks, one on MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) and the other, colorfully called "The Family Circle International Steam Kit," is of various celebrities. Personal files hold a file on an accident when Bell was hit by a taxi and herbs he was taking to help maintain his diabetes. Photographs are comprised of publicity photographs of Bell and others, publicity stills from films, and snapshots. Subjects include Jack Carter, Arthur Evans, Jim Owles, and Elizabeth Taylor, a trip to Paris, and an unidentified protest in Washington D. C. The file on Andy Warhol contains an exhibition brochure for the exhibit "Andy Warhol and James Wyeth Portraits of Each Other" and is signed by Warhol.
Collection is arranged alphabetically by subject or name.