The Michigan Alumnus 645-647
The Death of Professor Francis W. Kelsey, 1858—1927
By Professor Henry A. Sanders, 90, Ph. D. '94
It may seem strange to speak of the untimely death of one who has been a leader in his University and in the cause of classical education for forty years. But never in his long, energetic, and successful career has Professor Kelsey been more productive in scholarship and indispensable as an organizer and a leader than during these last years, while Director of the Near East Expedition of the University of Michigan.
Though perceptibly aging under the pressure of business, travel, and study, which his position de manded, he exhibited no flagging in interest or in work up to the very end. On his return from Europe in April he went to the Cowie Hospital for needed rest and for relief from an attack of rheuma tism in the chest. This had followed upon a severe cold brought on by the climatic conditions of Paris and London in March after a winter spent in Egypt. His condition was not considered serious, though he was in pain much of the time. Even in his room at the hospital he was surrounded by books and correspondence and often engaged in important conferences. The end was due to heart failure and came without warning on May 14, after he had passed a more comfortable night and had been al lowed to hold a brief conference in the forenoon.
Professor Kelsey is survived by his wife, who was Miss Isabelle Badger of Mies, Michigan, and to whom he was married in 1885, and three children, Charlotte (Mrs. Frank J. Hubley), '18, of New York, Ruth (Mrs. Fred C. Diel), '18, who is now living in California, and a son, East on, now studying in the Law School.
Francis Willey Kelsey was born at Ogden, N. Y., on May 23, 1858. He re ceived his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Rochester in 1880, and the same institution gave him the Ph.D. in 1886 and LL.D. in 1910. He taught as an Instructor and Professor at Lake Forest Univer sity from 1880 to 1889, though he twice had a leave of absence for study in Europe during this period. In 1889 he was called to the University of Michigan as Professor of the Latin Lan guage and Literature and on the death of Professor Frieze in the following year he became the head of the department.
In his earlier years of teaching Professor Kelsey was conspicuous for the number and excellence of the textbooks, which he edited. Of these the best known is “Caesar’s Gallic War,” now in its twenty-first edition. Others that have been much used are “Select Orations and Letters of Cicero,” “De Senectute and De Amicitia of Cicero,” “De Senectute and De Amicitia of Cicero,” “Selections from Ovid,” and De Rerum Natura of Lucretius.” In 1899 appeared his translation of Mau’s Pompeii,” which has been the standard authority on the subject since that time. It is now out of print and for several years Professor Kelsey had been gathering material for a newer and larger work on Pompeii.
Soon after 1900 he organized the University of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series, of which the first volume appeared in 1904, and he has been Managing Editor since that time. The twenty-first volume will appear this year. This series of studies was not only created and directed by Professor Kelsey, but in very large measure he has secured the funds for publication by personal solicitation.
From 1907 to 1912 Professor Kelsey was Pres ident of the Archaeological Institute of America, years which were marked by rapid growth and broadening of influence of that great Classical As sociation. In 1907 he was President of the Amer ican Philological Association. He belonged to the various learned societies of America with which his varied activities brought him in touch, and besides was a member of the Classical Association of Great Britain, of the Deutches Archaeologisches Institut in Berlin, and of the Academic des Inscriptions et Belles- Lettres in Paris.
Professor Kelsey has been no less interested in the training of teachers and in defending the cause of the Classics. Many of the Classical teachers of the West have studied under him and all have been in fluenced by him. He early organized the Classical Conference as an adjunct to the Michigan Schoolmasters' Club and it has had an unbroken existence with in creasing influence since that time. One of the most note worthy of the earlier con ferences was devoted to a defense of the Classics. The papers and discussions of that meeting were collected and published by him in 1911 under the title "Latin and Greek in American Education." This work also is out of print and he was preparing a new edition at the time of his death.
In 1920-1922, Professor Kelsey secured the funds for and directed the first Near East Expedition of the University of Michigan. It brought a wealth of papyri, manuscripts, photographs, and archaeo logical material to the University. Encouraged by this success the second Expedition was organized in 1924 and has continued to the present with even greater acquisitions of research material and with the addition of successful excavations conducted at ancient Antioch of Pisidia, at Carthage, and for three successive years at Karanis in the Fayum of Egypt. The continuation of the excavation of that site for another year is assured. As a result of his cooperation with the representatives of the French Government in the tentative excavations on the site of Carthage, he was decorated with the insignia of Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.
With so many engrossing activities it might seem that Professor Kelsey could not have found the time for the original research in which he was most deeply interested, yet even in the press of work during the past decade seldom has a year failed to bring notable contributions from his pen in one or more of the Classical Journals.
The University of Michigan has lost one of its most inspiring teachers and a scholar, an organizer, and a director of research that has made the University better known and more highly esteemed in university circles throughout the world. He had great plans for further work and at the time of his death was arranging a program that called for five years of consecutive effort. His guiding hand and his indomitable energy have been taken from us but his example and the inspiration of his vision of a greater Michigan will never die.