John Forrest Kelly  philosopher, inventor, Irish-American nationalist

John Forrest Kelly, ca. 1905  ©


John Forrest Kelly was born 28 March 1859 in the vicinity of Carrick-on-Suir, Ireland, the son of two Fenian schoolteachers, Jeremiah and Kate Forrest Kelly, who had eleven other children; he emigrated to America in 1873.  He earned a PhD in electro-chemistry at age twenty-two, was an early associate of Thomas Edison, and pioneered high-voltage A/C electricity generating and transmission systems.  With William Stanley and Cummings C. Chesney, he was a partner in the Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company, which became the General Electric transformer plant in Pittsfield, MA.  After accumulating over seventy patents, and commercializing an electric player piano and a food dehydration system, he spent his later life supporting the cause of Irish nationalism, primarily by writing anonymous articles and editorials for the Irish World.  He died 15 October 1922 in Pittsfield.


1880s  individualist anarchist writer, in Liberty, Alarm, Lucifer

1916–18  president of the Mass. State Council, Friends of Irish Freedom

1920–21  writing a third of the Irish World’s anonymous political commentary

Jul–Dec 1921  promoted a nationwide boycott of British goods


John Forrest Kelly Papers

Core collection: approx. 2,555 document pages, memorabilia.

Subsidiary collection: approx. 7,000 document pages.

Available shortly to researchers, at Charlestown, MA; archiving in progress.