• Date of Birth: May 23, 1858
  • Born City: Ogden
  • Born State/Country: NY
  • Parents: Henry & Olive Cornelia Trowbridge K.
  • Date of Death: May 14, 1927
  • Death City: Ann Arbor
  • Death State/Country: MI
  • Married: Isabelle Badger, December 22, 1886.
  • Education:

    A.B. U. Rochester, 1880; A.M., 1883; Ph.D. (hon.), 1886; LL.D., 1910; study in Europe, 1883, 1884-5.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. class. Lake Forest U., 1880-2; prof. Lat., 1882-9; prof. Lat. lang. & lit. U. Michigan, 1889-1927; ann. prof. ASCSR, 1900-1; pres. APA, 1906-7; pres. AIA, 1907-12; dir. U. Michigan expeditions to Near East, 1919, 1924, 1925; 1926; mem. Académie des Inscriptions et des Belles-Lettres; Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.

  • Publications:

    Cicero's Cato Major De senectute and Laelius De Amicitia, intro. & notes by James S. Reid (Boston, 1883); T. Lucreti Cari De Rerum Natura Libri Sex (Boston, 1884; 6th ed., 1906); C. Iulii Caesaris Commentarii rerum gestarum (Boston, 1886; 1917); August Mau, Pompeii—Its Life and Art (trans.) (New York & London, 1889; 1904); P. Ovidii Nasonis Carmina Selecta (Boston & New York, 1891; 1906; 1925); Topical Outline of Latin Literature (Boston, 1891; rev. 1899); Fifty Topics in Roman Antiquities (Boston, 1891); Select Orations and Letters of Cicero (Boston, 1892-1911); Xenophon's Anabasis Books I-TV, with Andreas C. Zenos (Boston, 1889; 1898); Macmillan's Handbook of Archaeology and Antiquities, with Percy Gardner, (New York & London, 1896); C. Iul. Caesaris De Bello Gallico Libri VII (8th ed., Boston, 1897); "The Title of Caesar's Work," TAPA 36 (1905) 211-38; "The Cues of Caesar," CJ 2 (1906-7) 49-58; "Hirtius' Letter to Balbus and the Commentaries of Caesar," CP 2 (1907) 92-3; "Is There a Science of Classical Philology?," CP 3 (1908) 369-85; "The Problem of Religious Instruction in State Universities," Education and National Character, Religious EducationAssociation V (Chicago, 1908) 1-22; Latin and Greek in American Education (New York, 1911); Hugonis Grotii De jure belli ac pads libri tres, 2 vols. (ed. & trans. Book I) (Washington, DC, 1913-25); "A Waxed Tablet of the Year 128 A.D.," TAPA 54 (1923) 187-95; "A Picture Map of Rome in a Manuscript of Valerius Maximus," TAPA 56 (1925) 242-51; Excavations at Carthage, 1925; A Preliminary Report (New York & London, 1926); Third Year Latin (revision of his Cicero, with additions by B. Meinecke) (Boston, 1933).

  • Notes:

    Francis Willey Kelsey was instrumental in establishing the Classics Department at Michigan, which he served for 38 years, as a center for papyrological study.  His interest in archaeology as a means of bringing "dead languages" to life in his teaching was spurred by the discoveries in Pompeii, leading him to translate Mau's work on the city.  Beginning in the 1890s, he initiated a collection of antiquities from all over the Mediterranean and Near East, that would ultimately range in the thousands. In 1920 he bought the papyri that led to the University of Michigan's great papyrology center. Well past his 60th year, he raised funds for the first University Archaeological Expedition to Antioch, Carthage, and Karanis, among other sites, one result of his careful supervision being the beginning of the university's great collection, now housed in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, which  today holds 100,000 artifacts  and regularly sponsors field research, lectures, and exhibitions.

    Throughout his  career Kelsey tirelessly defended the classics and enlisted the support of successful non-academic figures to write essays on the value of learning ancient languages, collected in Latin and Greek in American Education. He edited and secured funds for the publication of over 20 volumes of the Humanistic Series of the University of Michigan Studies. Many of his publications were translations and school editions of Latin authors, with his edition of Caesar's Gallic Wars running to 21 editions.. At the state level he helped establish the Michigan Classical Conference, one of the earliest state-wide professional groups formed in the Great Lakes region to support the study of classical languages.  Kelsey regularly published reports of the MCC proceedings published first in the School Review and after 1918 in Classical Journal. He wrote that the purpose of the conference was "to encourage thoughtful discussion of  all aspects of classical teaching, but not to the exclusion of the interests of scholarship. (Kelsey, 192) In 1898 Kelsey invited the Black classicist William Sanders Scarborough (1852-1926) to a gathering of Kelsey's colleagues at his home in Ann Arbor. To Scarborough it was a sign of "the disposition toward equality and fraternity among men of high culture and learning." In 1909, however, their acquaintance was strained when the APA, of which Kelsey was an officer,  met in Baltimore, where it would celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Association with a banquet at the Hotel Belvedere. The management of the hotel informed the Association that because of his race Scarborough would not be allowed into the hotel for the 40th anniversary subscription banquet.  Kelsey was assigned to write to Scarborough assuring him that the officers of the APA had done their best and "personally would have been glad to have you present." 

     Kelsey was also a keen lover of music and brought his organizational skills to his presidency of the University Musical Society and to the establishment of the annual Music Festival on campus.

  • Sources:

    Francis W. Kelsey, "The Michigan Classical Conference," CJ 14 (1918) 192-7; John Griffiths Pedley,  The Life and Work of Francis Tilley Kelsey: Archaeology, Antiquity, and the Arts (Ann Arbor, 2011); CP  22 (1927) 308; DAB 10:313; NatCAB 14:484; 26:461-2; Rochester Alumni Review (June-July 1927) 168; WhAm 1:664; John G. Winter, CJ 23 (1927-8) 4 (with portrait); William Sanders Scarborough, The Autobiography of William Sanders Scarborough: An American Journey from Slavery to Scholarship, ed. Michele Valerie Ronnick (Detroit: Wayne State U. Press, 2005), 154, 207; https://lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/about-us/history/francis-kelsey.html.

    Papers: U. Michigan archives. 

  • Author: Ward W. Briggs, Jr. & Michele Valerie Ronnick