William Kelso

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William M. Kelso, C.B.E., Ph. D., F.S.A. (born 1941), often referred to as Bill Kelso,[1][2] is an American archaeologist specializing in Virginia's colonial period, particularly the Jamestown colony.

Personal life[edit]

A native of Lakeside, Ohio,[3] Kelso earned a B.A. in History from Baldwin-Wallace College, an M.A. in Early American History from the College of William and Mary, and a Ph.D in Historical Archaeology from Emory University.[4]


He has served as director of archaeology at Carter's Grove, Monticello, and Poplar Forest, as well as Commissioner of Archaeology for the Virginia Historic Landmarks Commission.[5] During his time at Monticello, he was one of the first to make early colonial slave life the focus of archaeological research.[6] Currently he serves as the Director of Research and Interpretation for the Preservation Virginia Jamestown Rediscovery project.

Rediscovery of Jamestown[edit]

In 1994, Kelso began directing excavations on Jamestown Island at the behest of Preservation Virginia. It was not long before the Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists uncovered the footprint of the fort's southern palisade.[7] His 2004 book includes an in-depth study of the features uncovered during the excavations.

Published works[edit]

  • Kingsmill Plantations, 1619-1800: Archaeology of Country Life in Colonial Virginia. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1984.
  • (with J. Deetz) Archaeology at Monticello. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.
  • (with B. Straube) Jamestown Rediscovery: 1994-2004. Richmond: APVA Preservation Virginia, 2004.
  • Jamestown: The Buried Truth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006.


In 2007 Kelso received the J. C. Harrington Award, presented by the Society for Historical Archaeology for his life-time contributions to archaeology centered on scholarship.[8] In July, 2012, as a result of his work on Jamestown Island, he was awarded an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, whom he had escorted on her visit to Jamestown.


  1. ^ Pierce, Thomas (27 January 2007). "Bill Kelso: Digging Up the Truth About Jamestown". NPR. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  2. ^ Wallace, John (8 June 2010). "Home » News & Events » More Stories » 2010 Gift to W&M honors renowned Jamestown archaeologist". College of William & Mary press release. Retrieved 28 September 2011.
  3. ^ "Lakeside native earns one of Britain's highest honors". The Beacon. 16 July 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2013.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ http://www.apva.org/pressroom/pdf/kelso_bio_short.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ Grizzard, Frank E., Jr., and D. Boyd Smith. The Jamestown Colony: An Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, 2007.
  6. ^ "William M. Kelso - American archaeologist". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  7. ^ "Bill Kelso: Digging Up the Truth About Jamestown". Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Awards and Prizes". Society for Historical Archaeology. Retrieved 30 September 2016.

External links[edit]