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.