Bells: Connecting Animals, People, and Land


Graphic for Animal Bells

Animals are belled throughout the world; from goats to chickens, sheep to camels, and horses to oxen, bells connect animals to people and their landscapes. At the same time, bells provide a comforting sound in a remote environment. Bells are more than just artifacts. This rich connection is the focus of this exhibit.

During his interview sessions for the Merrill-Cazier Library‘s Land Use Management Oral History Project, Thad Box explained the relationship of people, animals, and landscapes with bell stories. The idea for this exhibit arose from this oral history project housed in the libraries‘ Special Collections & Archives.

"One moonlit night I lay awake in a Nomad camp staring up at a peaceful sky with both the Big Dipper and the Southern Cross visible. Camel outlines moved against the sky. The gentle sound of wooden bells broadcast songs of peace. Then bells rattled, camels ran and rocks rolled down the hillside. Herders were on their feet, shouting, brandishing spears in the air and running toward the camels.

"The hyena, lion or thief that startled the camels got away. But I realized these livestock people were only superficially different from those in Texas who raised me. In both our cultures, we were codependent on our animals. The next day, I talked one of the herders out of a camel bell. That was the start of my collection of bells."

—Thad Box


  • Thadis Box: Collector
  • Brandee Burk: Digital Exhibit Builder
  • Kristin Heal: Physical Exhibit Graphic Designer
  • Rachel Hudson: Digital Exhibit Graphic Designer
  • Barbara Middleton: Physical Exhibit Curator
  • Rose Milovich: Physical Exhibit Program Director
  • Abby Thorne: Digital Exhibit Copy Editor
  • Randy Williams: Physical Exhibit Curator