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Unearthing Secret America


Photo Kelso William Kelso
Send questions before October 22nd

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.


Please see our resources page for links to this scientist's home page and other related infomation.

Catherine Correll-Walls, Staff Historian Responds: APVA/Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project Jamestown, Virginia 23081

Dale Pilkinton asks:
Thank 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.

Corell-Walls' response:
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)

Kylie Sheffeld asks:
Who 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?

Corell-Walls' response:
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.

Clara Martinez asks:
I've 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 that is?

Corell-Walls' response:
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.


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