The Life and Work of Francis Willey Kelsey

Archaeology, Antiquity, and the Arts
John Griffiths Pedley
If Indiana Jones had relied on trains . . .


President of the Archaeological Institute of America, professor at the University of Michigan from 1889 to 1927, and president of the American Philological Association, Francis Kelsey was crucially involved in the founding or growth of major educational institutions. He came to maturity in a period of great technological change in communications, transportation, and manufacturing. Kelsey took full advantage of such innovations in his ceaseless drive to promote education for all, to further the expansion of knowledge, and to champion the benefits of the study of antiquity.

A vigorous traveler around the United States, Europe, and the Mediterranean, Kelsey strongly believed in the value of personally viewing sites ancient and modern and collecting artifacts that could be used by the new museums and universities that were springing up in the United States. This collecting habit put him in touch with major financiers of the day, including Charles Freer, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan, as he sought their help for important projects.

Drawing heavily on Kelsey's daily diaries now held at the University of Michigan's Bentley Historical Library, John Griffiths Pedley gives us a biography that records the wide-ranging activities of a gifted and energetic scholar whose achievements mirrored the creative and contributive innovations of his contemporary Americans.

"Best known today for the museum that bears his name, Francis W. Kelsey is vividly brought to life in this thoroughly researched biography that meticulously conveys his unbounded energy and remarkable achievements as archaeologist, philologist, educator, author, editor, administrator, fund-raiser, campus planner, businessman, refugee advocate, and so much more. The indefatigable Kelsey was ahead of his time in insisting that the ancient world be studied and taught in its broadest contexts, and Pedley presents his subject in the same light, providing a richly detailed account of the many sides of this pioneering American intellectual in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries."
—Kenneth Lapatin, Associate Curator of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum

"How do universities make the world a better place? What should be the balance between teaching and research? What is the balance between private philanthropy and public funding? What role do the arts and humanities play in a modern society? We follow these issues, and more, in John Pedley's authoritative and beautifully written life of Francis Kelsey, classical scholar, educator, educational entrepreneur, and humanist in the broadest sense of the word. One of the towering figures of early twentieth-century American academe, Michigan's Francis Kelsey transformed Classical Studies in North America, and he transformed the University of Michigan in the broader world through his work with schools in the United States and young victims of the First World War in Europe. In so doing, he offered an example of an ultimately engaged life. The story of Francis Kelsey is not simply the story of an extraordinary man, it is the story of how modern American universities can reach their own fullest potential."
—David Potter, Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, University of Michigan

Jacket images: Francis Kelsey in a classroom at the University of Michigan, ca. 1900. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan.

Isabelle and Francis on the quay at Palermo, Sicily, en route to Carthage. Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan. Photo: Enoch Peterson.

Karanis, houses under excavation. Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan. Photo: George R. Swain.

John Griffiths Pedley is Emeritus Professor of Classical Archaeology and Greek at the University of Michigan and past Director of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.  He is the author of numerous books, on topics as varied as Greek sanctuaries, Sardis, Greek sculpture, and South Italian archaeology and architecture.

Praise / Awards

  • "Anyone interested in the study of classical Latin authors, archaeology, or museums will also be impressed by Kelsey's vision, values, work ethic, and enthusiasm."
    —Christine Drewel, Grand Valley State University, The Michigan Historical Review

  • "...this biography is an important record of a visionary man who happened to live in a critical moment in the study of classics in America."
    —Pablo Alvarez, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

  • "The book will find a broad and appreciative audience, from veterans of his university's programs in classical studies, classical archaeology, and history of art, to all those interested in Kelsey's and the university's prominent role in the development of American higher education and cultural life at large; and it will hold much appeal for an international public with interests in 20th-c. cultural history across a broad European and Mediterranean swath of regions that were touched by the vision and talens of Francis W. Kelsey."
    —Steven E. Ostrow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Journal of Roman Archaeology

  • "...Pedley deserves our thanks for telling this important scholarly story of a fascinating figure...It is also important at a time when public universities are under siege to be reminded of their rich contributions to the legacy of American scholarship and education"
    —Stephen Dyson, American Journal of Archaeology

Look Inside

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 480pp.
  • 30 B&W photographs, 7 line art.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2011
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-11802-1

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  • $84.95 U.S.

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