NHA News Release: August 12, 2016


NHA Receives Papers of Captain Seth Pinkham

NANTUCKET, MA – The Nantucket Historical Association (NHA) is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a generous gift of papers of Captain Seth Pinkham, including journals from his voyages at sea.

Seth Pinkham (1786-1844) completed three voyages as captain of the Dauphin and Galen out of Nantucket in the period 1815-23, making his fortune and retiring from the sea at the age of thirty-seven. He and wife Mary Brown brought up a lively family of six daughters and one son at their home on Fair Street, and he relished being home on Nantucket. But his investments were mishandled by others, and he felt it necessary to make one final voyage to recoup financial stability for his family. In 1840, Captain Pinkham sailed the ship Henry Astor on a whaling voyage to the Pacific, and just a month from home in 1844, he died of illness in Pernambuco, Brazil.

The Seth Pinkham papers recently acquired for the NHA at auction through the generosity of an anonymous donor, reveal the hopes and sentiments of a well-read, self-made man in pursuit of security for his beloved family. Copies of letters he wrote on board the Henry Astor, and journals of his philosophical musings and parental advice comprise more than 250 pages he penned during his last voyage.

“The Pinkham papers are a really special acquisition – not only do they complement other Pinkham family materials in our collection, but they reveal the heart of the man who wrote them,” says Betsy Tyler, NHA Obed Macy Research Chair. “Seth Pinkham was a loving father and husband who very much missed his family while he was at sea on his last voyage, when he penned his thoughts and fatherly advice to those at home on Nantucket.”