History Topics

Over the centuries, Nantucket history has been recorded by historians, biographers, filmmakers, story tellers, and simply by the people who have lived through it. Here we include brief articles on diverse topics as recently told by Nantucketers and other lovers of Nantucket and its history.

If you are interested in contributing to this collection, please contact us at library@nha.org and let us know of your topic of interest.

Photo credit: James L. Stanfield, National Geographic, June 1970

Cape Verdean Heritage

Explore the history and the long association between Nantucket and the Cape Verde archipelago off the coast of Senegal and the community that's developed on Nantucket.More Read more from Cape Verdean Heritage

Nantucket Lightship Baskets

There are four distinctive elements that define a Nantucket lightship basket. The basket is woven on a mold; the staves...More Read more from Nantucket Lightship Baskets

Sketch of the Whaleship Essex and a sperm whale.

The Essex and Its Legacy

On November 20, 1820, an enraged sperm whale rammed and sank the Nantucket whaleship Essex in the middle of the...More Read more from The Essex and Its Legacy

Nantucket Women’s History

Nantucket has a long and proud history of empowering women. Mary Starbuck led the way in introducing Quakerism to the...More Read more from Nantucket Women’s History

Native Peoples

Introduction The history of human habitation on Nantucket traces back approximately 12,000 years to the PaleoIndian Period, pre-dating the time...More Read more from Native Peoples

Black History

Explore articles and videos about Nantucket's Black History. The NHA is committed to expanding and sharing these stories. More Read more from Black History


The Nantucket Historical Association has over 15,000 artifacts in its collection reflecting the variety of island life from the native Wampanoags and the earliest EuropeanMore Read more from Artifacts

Illustration from the log of the Ship Washington, kept by Captain James G. Coffin, 1842-1844.


From the late 1600s—when Nantucketers first gleaned the prized oil from small whales that washed ashore—into the next two centuries —when Nantucket whaleships would tra­verseMore Read more from Whaling

Watercolor "Moby Dick and Ahab " by Claus Hoie


This topic explores the special character of Nantucket Island as reflected in literature, from ship’s logs and journals, diaries, and music as well as it’sMore Read more from Literature

Rights and Race Exhibition, Hadwen House, May 26-December 2018.


History is quite simply the story of people and places. Herein is a diverse collection about the special people of Nantucket.More Read more from People

Map of Nantucket, 1772, drawn by Dr. James Taylor


There are many not-very-well-known stories about the places on Nantucket. In these varied articles, you might discover some interesting facts about Nantucket you didn't know.More Read more from Places

NHA Curator preserving lightship basket.


This topic offers some helpful suggestions on how to protect and preserve your own family heirlooms.More Read more from Preservation

Civil War Veterans

Nantucket and War

This topic explores the role of the island in war.More Read more from Nantucket and War

Nantucket Roots


This topic offers guidelines to help you trace your Nantucket heritage and build your family tree.More Read more from Genealogy

Photographic portrait of Elisha Pope Fearing Gardner, the poet of Poet's Corner

Fun Facts

Like any community, Nantucket has its unusual and sometimes quirky stories about events and happenings on the island.More Read more from Fun Facts

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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