Kelso, William M. 1942-

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Kelso, William M. 1942-


Born in 1942, in Lakeside, OH; son of Alberta and Mary Kelso; married; wife's name Ellen (a writer); children: Marty, Libby. Education: Graduated from Baldwin Wallace College; College of William and Mary, M.A., 1964; Emory University, Ph.D., 1971.


Home—Jamestown, VA. Office—APVA Historic Jamestowne Giving, 204 W. Franklin St., Richmond, VA 23220. E-mail—[email protected]


Archaeologist. University of Virginia School of Architecture, Charlottesville, lecturer, 1976—; Monticello and Poplar Forest, Williamsburg, VA, resident archaeologist, 1979-85, director of archeology, 1986—; Jamestown, Virginia Rediscovery, Jamestown, chief archaeologist, 1993—; College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, adjunct professor, 1995—.


Captain Jones's Wormslow: A Historical, Archaeological, and Architectural Study of an Eighteenth-Century Plantation Site near Savannah, Georgia, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1979.

Kingsmill Plantations, 1619-1800: Archaeology of Country Life in Colonial Virginia, Academic Press (Orlando, FL), 1984.

Earth Patterns: Essays in Landscape Archaeology, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1990.

APVA Jamestown Rediscovery I: Search for 1607 James Fort, Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (Jamestown, VA), 1995.

Archaeology at Monticello: Artifacts of Everyday Life in the Plantation Community, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation (Charlottesville, VA), 1997.

Jamestown: The Buried Truth, University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville, VA), 2006.


William M. Kelso is an archaeologist whose primary area of interest is early America, particularly the region around Virginia. He is an expert on Jamestown, which was the first permanent settlement to be established in America, and serves as chief archaeologist for the historical site there. In the mid-1990s, while excavating the site, Kelso discovered a number of artifacts still surviving from the original settlement including a skeleton from an individual who had been shot in the leg by a musket. Kelso has written several books on the subject, including APVA Jamestown: The Buried Truth, which provides readers with detailed information regarding the excavation and their findings. It was published during the four-hundredth anniversary of Jamestown and became a best seller. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that "Kelso could have gone further in sketching the day-to-day life his artifacts reveal," but praised the volume overall. In the National Review, Alan Pell Crawford discussed the contributions of the settlement at Jamestown to the future development of the nation, including the colony's "first representative assembly in the New World," adding that "Kelso's work adds significantly to our understanding of its origins." Jennifer Howard, in a review for the Chronicle of Higher Education, remarked: "It had long been assumed that the river, over four centuries, had swallowed up most of the original Jamestown colony. With careful scholarship and spadework, Mr. Kelso has proved them wrong."



Chronicle of Higher Education, May 4, 2007, Jennifer Howard, "Artifacts Rewrite Jamestown's History."

Daily Press, May 29, 2007, "Uncovering Ancient Life: Archaeologists Gear Up for a Summer Full of Artifacts and Education."

National Review, February 12, 2007, Alan Pell Crawford, "The Big Dig," p. 47.

Publishers Weekly, June 5, 2006, review of Jamestown: The Buried Truth, p. 46.

Reference & Research Book News, November 1, 2006, review of Jamestown.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 26, 2006, "Remapping Jamestown: Williamsburg Firm Is Up for Award for Work That Helped Uncover Perimeter of Fort."


APVA Web site, (July 25, 2007), author biography.

Dennis Camp Photography Web site, (July 25, 2007), author biography.

Explore Jamestown Web site, (July 25, 2007), Brent Tarter, review of Jamestown.

Internet Movie Database, (July 25, 2007), author filmography.

National Geographic Web site, (July 25, 2007), author biography.

William and Mary College Web site, (April 19, 2007), David Williard, "Kelso ('64) Unearths Long-Buried Truths at James Fort."