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.
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
Please see our resources
page for links to this scientist's home page and other
Correll-Walls, Staff Historian Responds:
Rediscovery Archaeological Project Jamestown, Virginia 23081
you for the opportunity to ask you questions. Part of
the program's focus was early colonial slave life vs.
the plantation owner's life. How different were the
non-slave owning colonists daily rations, work hours/load,
etc. than the slave population? My ancestors came to
Virginia about 1635 and were at the Treasurer's Plantation
and owned land on Hogs Head Island. I have always wondered
about their daily life. What resources do you recommend?
Thank you again.
Thank you for your questions and you interest in
our project. The daily life of a slave owner and slave
would have been quite different. Slaves were generally
expected to work from sun up to sun down. Their daily
ration would have been a portion of ground corn and
perhaps fat back. Some slaves may have supplemented
their diets with foods they acquired from personal gardens
and fishing and hunting. A slave owner would be expected
to have a lighter work schedule and more varied diet
including a variety of meat. There of course were many
variables to the situation. Many of Virginia's early
yeoman farmers were not slave owners and their daily
rations and work schedule may not have been far different
from those of the enslaved population. The marked difference
would have been that a slave did not possess the factor
which contributes most to a meaningful quality of life
- personal freedom. I recommend the following readings
for additional information on slavery as an integral
part of early American society: Alfred A. Moss, Jr.,From
Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans (7th
ed., New York, 1994) Gary B. Nash, Red, White, and Black:
The Peoples of Early North America (3rd ed., Englewood
Cliffs, N.J., 1992) Allan Kullikoff, Tobacco and Slaves:
The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake,
1680-1800(Chapel Hill, 1986) Barbara Heath, The Archaeology
of Slave Life at Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest (The
University of Virginia Press)
were the indentured servants who also did manual labor
in the colonies? Where did they come from and what were
their relations with the africans brought over as slaves?
Indentured servant was a term used to describe someone
who in the modern sense was an employee. Due to the
rules of primogeniture in England, younger sons had
no opportunity to inherit a landed estate and they therefore
might obligate themselves by articles of indenture to
serve a Virginia planter a required number of years,
usually 7, in order to obtain passage to the colony
which they perceived as a place of opportunity. Many
men, women and children from affluent European families
came to the colony initially as indentured servants.
Among the indenture servants were also many artisans,
farmers and laborers.
seen shows such as Frontier House on PBS where modern
people attempt to survive under historical conditions.
None of them seem to be able to do it. Why do you think
I don't have a definitive answer to your question.
We can speculate that perhaps it has something to do
with what one is used to. The daily life of most individuals
in early Modern Europe was filled with the constant
threat of death from disease and famine. For this reason
the average life span of adults in 1607 was around forty-five
years of age. Children often died in infancy. Today's
society has a much higher expectation of longevity and
quality of life provided by progress in scientific research
and technological invention. Even though today's reality
based shows do not entirely duplicate the threats our
forbears encountered the simulated environment the participants
are place in may produce a degree of anxiety.