Fonds F0320 - Dr. David H. Kelley fonds

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Dr. David H. Kelley fonds


  • [195-]-[199-] (Creation)

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4.31 m of textual and other records

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Biographical history

David Humiston Kelley was born 01 April 1924 in Albany, New York. He served in the United States Air Force before entering Harvard College in 1946 on the GI Bill to study anthropology. His Honours thesis in 1950 was an extensive study of documentary sources on the ethnohistory of Central Mexico. Kelley continued his graduate studies at Harvard, publishing numerous papers on European genealogy, Mexican ethnohistory, astronomy, and Mexican and North American mythology and linguistics. He completed his PhD in 1957 with a dissertation on “Evidence of a Mexican Element in the Formation of Polynesian Culture.”

Kelley taught at the Texas Technological College in Lubbock Texas from 1958-1963, receiving two Fulbright scholarships to undertake fieldwork and teaching on the north coast of Peru (1957-1958) and in Montevideo, Uruguay (1963). He married Jane Holden, an archaeologist, and together they moved to Nebraska where Kelley taught at the University and held the position of Acting Chairman, Department of Anthropology. The Kelleys eventually moved to the University of Calgary in 1968 to teach in the Department of Archaeology. David Kelley received Professor Emeritus Status in 1989.

Kelley was an expert on Maya hieroglyphic writing, publishing several ground-breaking articles in the 1960s. The article “Glyphic Evidence of a Dynastic Sequence at Quirigua, Guatemala,” provided sound support for the view that the content of the Maya Classic period inscriptions were predominantly historical in nature. Kelley later published a book on Mayan writing.

Kelley had wide-ranging research interests that encompassed genealogical studies, linguistics, mythology, trans-oceanic diffusion, early writing, and calendar systems. He was also an expert in astronomy and by combining this knowledge with his work on calendar systems, Kelley ably addressed the Maya correlation problem. He co-authored a book with Eugene Milone in 2005 on “Exploring Ancient Skies.”

Kelly was the first recipient of the Tatiana Proskouriakoff Award from Harvard University in 1999, an award recognizing his contributions to Mayan decipherment. Kelley died on 19 May 2011.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received from Jane Kelley initially, and then the estate of Jane and David Kelley

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Fonds consists of records created or received by David Kelley.

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Restricted until processed.

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Box lists are available - contact

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