The papers and photographs of Gertrude Bell mainly consist of the letters Gertrude Bell sent home to her family whilst on her travels, of the diaries she kept when abroad, and the photographs taken whilst she was away.
The papers consists of sixteen thousand letters, sixteen diaries, seven notebooks and forty-four packets of miscellaneous material; whilst the photographic collection is about 7000 in number, and consists of photographs taken by her between c.1900-1918. Those of Middle Eastern archaeological sites are of great value because they record structures which have since been eroded or, in some cases, have disappeared altogether, while those of the desert tribes are of considerable anthropological and ethnographical interest.
Her competence as a field archaeologist and photographer means that the papers are indispensable for archaeological research of parts of the Middle East.
The items in the Bell Miscellaneous Papers contain material relating to Bell's work and travels, including contemporary articles, notes by Bell on various topics (archaeological sites, Arab tribes, etc.), letters concerning the publication of Bell's letters by Lady Richmond and letters to and from Gertrude Bell, maps and plans, literary manuscripts, lecture notes and copies of letters from Gertrude Bell held elsewhere. There is also a series of the letters known as the Doughty-Wylie letters, 1913-1915. These are the letters between Gertrude Bell and Charles Doughty-Wylie, an army officer with whom Bell was in love. The letters were returned to Gertrude Bell after his death at Gallipoli in 1915.