Kelly, A. R. (Arthur Randolph) (1900-1979) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Kelly, A. R. (Arthur Randolph) (1900-1979)

Historical Note:

Arthur Randolph Kelly (1900-1979) was assistant professor of anthropology (1929-33) at the University of Illinois (UI). He specialized in physical anthropology and was an influential practicing archaeologist notable for his extensive fieldwork in the United States.

Kelly was born in Hubbard, Texas, on October 27, 1900. He studied anthropology as an undergraduate at the University of Texas, completing his bachelor's degree in 1921. He went on to earn a master's in 1925, followed by a doctorate from Harvard University in 1929. That same year (1929), Kelly became assistant professor of anthropology at UI. In addition to teaching classes, he led archaeological fieldwork at Starved Rock State Park and Powell Mound at the Cahokia Mounds. In 1933, Kelly was appointed by the Smithsonian Institution as director of the Ocmulgee Creek excavations near Macon, Georgia. A Great Depressionâ??era work relief archaeology program, it was the "largest â?¦ dig ever conducted within the United Statesâ?¦. By the time the excavations were finished [in 1937], over 2.5 million artifacts were recovered" (National Park Service). Kelly held additional positions within the National Park Service, including chief archeologist (1937-41) and superintendent (1941-46). In 1946, Kelly accepted a professorship at the University of Georgia and continued to conduct fieldwork throughout the state. He served as archeological consultant to the state of Georgia and was a founding member of the Georgia Historical Commission and the Society for Preservation of Early Georgia History.

Kelly died on November 4, 1979.


"Arthur Kelly," National Park Service, accessed April 20, 2020,;%20

Wikipedia, s.v. "Arthur Randolph Kelly," accessed April 20, 2020,

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