NHA at Home

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During these unprecedented times, the Nantucket Historical Association is sharing digital resources weekly to enrich the lives of our members and friends at home through video lectures, kids activity kits, our transcription program, history articles and more! All the information in our newsletters is being gleaned from the resources presented below. We hope you’ll dive in, enjoy, and give your mind a rest from thinking about today’s challenges.

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Today we explore the history of the @theboxnantucket and we didn’t want to spare any details (story continued in our comments).

It may be surprising to learn that the “black Colonel Sanders of Nantucket” was originally from Kentucky. Born on November 10, 1914, William “Willie” House was the seventh of nine children in an African-American family. Little is known about his childhood, but he was described later as being a “country boy” who spoke in a slow drawl.

House married a home economics teacher from Georgia named Lena Day, and moved to New York City to work as a chauffeur for an executive at S.S. Pierce & Company. Day found work in several different areas of the state government, including the Department of Parks, Department of Hospital, and Welfare (now Roosevelt) Island. During the summer months, House and a small staff would accompany his employer to Nantucket; it is unclear if, or for how long, Day joined her husband on the island each year.

In the early- to mid-twentieth century, Nantucket’s summer population had a substantial African-American demographic, due in no small part to the wealthy white families who brought their domestic staff with them on vacation. The overwhelming majority of these workers were black, and lived with the families they worked for on the island. A typical weekly schedule allowed them Thursdays and half-Sundays for leisure, but there was little for them to do. When weather allowed, common hangouts were the benches along Main Street and the “colored beach” at the end of Francis Street.

While Day earned her bachelor’s degree in Home Economics from the Tuskegee Institute in 1948, House bought a large parcel of land along then-empty Pleasant Street and renovated a small shack into a restaurant he called the Chicken Box. Named for his signature honey-fried chicken, the Chicken Box opened in 1949 as a gathering place for African-American Nantucketers. Serving classic Southern comfort food, House drew a large enough crowd that he moved to Nantucket permanently and in 1951 applied for a liquor license. According to an island rumor, however, town leaders were reluctant to issue one until House beat them in a winter poker game.

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It’s a good day to be out on the water or here at the Whaling Museum to stay cool!

View of the boat basin including Straight Wharf and Old South Wharf in August 1968.

Purchase tickets to visit the Whaling Museum today- link in bio and our story.

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Our NEW exhibition “The Road from Abolition to Suffrage” is now open at the Whaling Museum in the Williams Forsyth Gallery.

This is a story of inspiring individuals who moved Nantucket—and the nation—towards a more just and equitable distribution of political power. It begins with a simple will written in 1710 endowing a formerly enslaved man with property and runs up to the enactment of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920 granting voting rights to women.

As the title suggests, the story has two parts—the first looks at the scourge of slavery and the second highlights those individuals with Nantucket connection involved in fighting for civil rights for women.

Purchase your ticket online to visit today- link in bio and in our story!

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Happy 230th birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard. Did you know the U.S. Coast Guard was created by an act of Congress on August 4, 1790, by the recommendation of then Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton? It was originally referred to as the United States Revenue Cutter Service, until Congress merged it with the United States Life-Saving Service to form the U.S. Coast Guard in 1915.

Be sure to check out the new “inside out” exhibit by our friends @eganmaritime at the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum to discover colorful storyboards to learn more about the history of the U.S. Coast Guard and accounts of several shipwrecks. It is the perfect excuse to bike out to Polpis to experience their beautiful outdoor grounds around the museum.

This photo shows Mildred Jewett (Madaket Millie) in uniform, standing on her front step. Signs on her house read: Millie's, and Coast Guard West End Command in the 1970s.

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These beachgoers in 1922 might not be in disco outfits, but they are certainly ready to dance! Who is joining us to dance tomorrow at Virutal Night at the Museum with @marjoriegubelmann all to benefit the NHA?!

Join friends from all over the world for this exciting virtual dance party. DJ Mad Marj will take us back to the late 1970s with a disco bash to remember. During this Zoom dance party, you can observe or join on-screen to show off your best disco moves and flash your disco style! Get your mod and glitter out of storage and be prepared to do the Hustle!

Tickets are still available – link in bio under Nantucket by Design and in our story!

And today is the last chance to order from a 1970’s themed dinner menu (in our story) for you and your group to enjoy from @ppxevents Email Lindsay@ppxevents.com now to get your order in. Pick-up or delivery will be available!

This year’s event honors @phoebetudor and Bobby Tudor. Chaired by @marlamullendesigns and @georgantas.design

Sponsored by the @thevaultnantucket 💎

Come celebrate the conclusion of an awesome virtual @NantucketbyDesign week all the benefit the Nantucket Historical Association.

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With August approaching it is almost time to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment on August 18th. In celebration, we plan to highlight a number of Nantucket’s extraordinary women.

In 1850, Lydia Folger Fowler (1822-79) was the first American-born woman to receive a medical degree. In 1851, she became the first woman professor of medicine at a U.S. college. She specialized in the health of women and children and wrote and lectured on hygiene, nutrition, physiology, and phrenology. In later years, she served the poor and needy of the slums where she eventually contracted blood poisoning which led to her death at fifty-six.

She championed opening the medical profession to women, became active in the temperance and women’s rights movements, and attended the Seneca Falls women’s right conference. Later, Elizabeth Cady Stanton dedicated The History of Woman Suffrage (1881) to her, among other pioneers of the suffrage movement.

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This heat wave has us like ⬆️ Circa 1970s, it’s hard to beat a shady spot under a tree on Main Street with an ice cream cone!

But the Whaling Museum is another great spot to catch a break from the heat. Open Monday-Saturday, 8am-6pm, come explore new exhibitions, listen to a new audio tour, check out the new Discovery Center for the kids, and so much more! Reserve your ticket online today- link in bio.

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The Nantucket Historical Association preserves and interprets the history of Nantucket through its programs, collections, and properties, in order to promote the island’s significance and foster an appreciation of it among all audiences.

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