Francis Kelsey descended from William Kelsey, who was born in England around 1600. William settled in Massachusetts in 1632, then moved to Connecticut in 1636. Francis, along with his brother Frederick and many other relatives, took a lively interest in the family's genealogy, resulting in a series of volumes, now five in number.

Born on a farm in northern New York State, Kelsey attended the local elementary school until the age of 15, when, in the absence of a secondary school nearby, his parents sent him to the Lockport Union School some 60 miles away. Entering the University of Rochester in the fall of 1876, he displayed a remarkable flair for ancient languages and in the course of a brilliant career won prizes in Latin, Greek, and history. Immediately upon graduation in 1880 he joined the faculty of Lake Forest University.

During his nine years at Lake Forest he tested his aptitude for teaching and worked on improvements in the ways in which Greek and Latin were taught. He thought through for himself the place of the church in colleges and universities and the role of research in American education. In Europe he learned the German system of university education at first hand, met many foreign scholars, and became acquainted with the most recent methods of archaeological research.

  • Book

    Genealogy of the Descendants of William Kelsey, vol. 1 (1928). Kelsey Museum Library

  • Book

    Genealogy of the Descendants of William Kelsey, vol. 3 (1947). Kelsey Museum Library

  • Book

    Click on the picture to enlarge

    Page from Francis Kelsey's schoolbook. Ogden, New York, 1871 Photo: John G. Pedley, Ogden/Spencerport Historian's Office

  • Book

    Francis Kelsey, University of Rochester, 1880 Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of Rochester Libraries [024766]

  • Photo

    1877 photo of the University of Rochester class of 1880. Francis Kelsey is ... The University of Rochester Library

  • Essay

    Extract from an essay by Ruth Kelsey Diel in which she wrote of her father's "lighter side" Bentley Historical Library, Patricia Diel Arthur/Ruth Kelsey Diel Collection

  • Yearbook

    Interpres 1887: Yearbook of the junior class at the University of Rochester Lent by the University of Rochester Library

  • Yearbook

    Pages from issues of the Interpres published while Kelsey was a student at Rochester. Kelsey is listed as first tenor in a double quartet and a participant in the Sophomore Exhibition. The 1883 issue records Kelsey's Master of Arts degree. Facsimile courtesy of the University of Rochester Library

  • Book

    Miss Isabelle Badger Patricia Diel Arthur/Ruth Kelsey Diel Collection

  • Journal

    The Lake Forest University Review, vols. 1–3 (1880–1882)

    Mary Isabelle (Belle) Badger, Kelsey's future wife, published two articles in this volume on topics that signal two of the interests she had in common with Kelsey—the classics and humanitarian causes. In this article she focuses on the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in the United States. Facsimile courtesy of the University of Rochester Library