William M. Kelso
William M. Kelso is the director of archaeology for the Association
for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) Jamestown Rediscovery project
in Jamestown, Virginia. He has built a reputation as one of America’s foremost historical
archaeologists in Early American history. Previously, he served as director of archaeology
at Colonial Williamsburg’s Carter’s Grove, Monticello and Poplar Forest. Kelso is
also commissioner of archaeology for the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.
In 1993, Kelso’s interest in finding James Fort on Jamestown Island, Virginia led
him to leave his position at Monticello to focus on persuading the APVA to hire
him. Until then, the APVA had largely discouraged excavations on their land and
advocated not disturbing the grounds. Kelso was able to get the association’s Board
of Trustees to shift that policy and launch a 10-year archaeological search led
by him. The excavation began in 1994 and just two years later, Kelso and a small
staff discovered the remains of James Fort, dispelling the long-held belief that
the fort was lost to the James River. This finding became APVA’s significant contribution
to Virginia’s 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown in 2007.
Kelso has lectured throughout the United States and Europe. He has authored or contributed
to numerous books and articles on archaeology including Jamestown: The Buried Truth
(University of Virginia Press, 2008), Kingsmill Plantation, 1619-1800: Archaeology
of Country Life in Colonial Virginia (University of Virginia Press, 2004), APVA
Jamestown Rediscovery I: Search for 1607 James Fort (Association for the Preservation
of Virginia Antiquities, 1995).
Kelso earned his B.A. in history from Baldwin-Wallace College, his master’s in history
from the College of William and Mary and his Ph.D. from Emory University. He resides
in Jamestown, Virginia with his wife Ellen.