Bell Helicopter Records

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About the Collection

The Bell Helicopter Records document seventy-one years of Bell Helicopter Textron’s corporate history. Founded by aviation pioneer Lawrence Dale Bell, the company that eventually became Bell Helicopter began as part of Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, NY. After hiring Art Young, a pioneer in helicopter design in 1941, the helicopter division of the company began to expand, and eventually the division established a new headquarters in Hurst, TX. The division became the Bell Helicopter Corporation in 1960, after technology conglomerate Textron purchased Bell Aerospace.

Bell Helicopter has become one of the largest manufacturers of both military and commercial aircraft in North America. They are well known for crafting the first helicopter certified for civilian use, the Bell 47, as well as the UH-1 or Huey series of helicopters which were the workhorse aircraft for combat, troop transport, and medevac operations during the Vietnam War.

The Bell Helicopter Records document seventy-one years of aviation history, including aircraft development and testing, military contracts, civil aviation, corporate life, and the growth of the Hurst-Euless-Bedford area of Dallas-Fort Worth. The majority of the collection is composed of audio-visual recordings and photographic negatives. The collection also contains office records such as memoranda, press releases, ad scripts, reports, and presentation texts, many of these created by former executives of Bell Helicopter. Additionally, the collection contains a reference library of aircraft specifications, maintenance and user manuals, and promotional material that had been created and maintained by Bell Helicopter over several decades for the use of its employees.

The full contents of the collection can be viewed on the Bell Helicopter Records finding aid. Portions of the Bell Helicopter Records are digitizedand can be viewed on The Portal to Texas History.