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Photo Kelso william Kelso

William M. Kelso is Director of Archaeology for the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) in Jamestown, VA. A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College, Kelso obtained his Master's Degree in early American history from the College of William and Mary in 1964. In 1971, He completed his Ph.D. at Emory University.

Between 1979 and 1985, Kelso served as the resident archeologist at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's beloved home, and in 1986, he became director of archeology. Kelso has lectured on Architectural History at the University of Virginia's School of Architecture since 1976 and, since 1995, has served as Adjunct Professor at the College of William and Mary.

Kelso came to APVA's Jamestown Rediscovery Project in 1993.


For links to William Kelso's home page and other related infomation please see our resources page

Kelso responds :

11/01/01: Robert S. asks:
Did you always want to become an archeologist? How did you go about becoming one? How is your work different from that of other archeologists? What traits make someone a good archeologist?

Kelso's response:
No I spent high school and college and three years playing and coaching football. To get into archeology, first I volunteered on weekends, then pushed wheelbarrows for minimum wage, then went back to graduate school. Today, I focus only on British colonial sites in the United States. I think the most important trait is love of the past and a desire, like a detective, to figure out what happened in the past from whatever physical evidence an event produced.

11/04/01: Nina T. asks:
What are some other projects you've worked on? What were you able to reveal about those projects?

Kelso's response:
I've worked on a number of plantations in Virginia and Georgia, including Jefferson's Monticello. My work looks at how people lived off the land- from the richest Planter to the poorest laborer and slave.

11/05/01: Noah A. asks:
What are some things about Jamestown that remain a mystery? How will you go about solving those mysteries? What would be a key find?

Kelso's response:
We still wonder how, despite a mysteriously high death rate, Jamestown lived on to become the first permanent English settlement in America. To resolve this question, we'll look at the thousands of artifacts for patterns of successful activities and look closely at human burials for signs of trauma and disease.

11/01/01: Anne T. asks:
What, if anything, made Jamestown a unique colony? What are some misconceptions about colonists you've been able to clear up? Did future colonies learn anything from the Jamestown experience?

Kelso's response:
The colony's primary goal was to make a profit for the sponsors and first representative government in America met at Jamestown. Our work refuted the ideas that the colonists at Jamestown were "all" lazy and unskilled and therefore incapable of surviving in a wilderness. Yes, Jamestown taught future colonies that colonists should be given their own land from the start as incentive and that they should have a high percentage of farmers in the colony from the start as well.

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