From the Archives 31 — June 2018

by Sebastián Encina, Collections Manager

In June we celebrate Father’s Day, a day to honor all fathers. It is often a day for picnics and barbecues and gifts and bad ties.

Though we often speak of Kelsey Museum namesake Francis W. Kelsey in terms of his professional career — scholar, professor of Latin and supporter of archaeology, music aficionado, international traveler, politically connected and a major influence on campus — he was also a doting father. Letters in the archives of the Bentley Historical Library show that he often wrote to his children while overseas, encouraging them in their studies and hobbies. These letters back and forth speak of a loving relationship between Kelsey and his children. He often wrote to them in Latin, referring to himself as Pater.

KM_Kelsey-kids-web
Francis Kelsey’s children: Ruth, Charlotte, and Easton.

Of Kelsey’s three children, we know the least about his eldest, Ruth (born 1894). She does not make much of an appearance in the Kelsey Museum archives, though she does factor in the archives at the Bentley Library.

Charlotte, born in 1897, may be a bit more familiar to those who have followed this blog. It is Charlotte who starred in the Michigan Classical Club’s 1917 production of Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris while a student at U-M. Photographer George Swain captured her performance in a series of glass slides — some that he hand-colored (see “From the Archives” for October 2015).

Kelsey’s youngest, Easton (born 1904), has a major presence in the Kelsey Museum archives. He often accompanied his father on trips abroad and there are a good number of photographs of him while traveling. Easton was a photographer in his own right and a collection of his photographs is catalogued in the Kelsey archives (identified with the designation “KK”).

For this month’s “From the Archives,” in honor of Father’s Day, we present Francis W. Kelsey in a new light, not as a scholar and founder of a museum, but as a loving father to three wonderful children.

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To see additional photos and to read more about the Kelsey family, visit the “Family Man” portion of the online exhibition A Man of Many Parts: The Life and Legacy of Francis Willey Kelsey.

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