From her desk at the Research Library, Elizabeth “Libby” Oldham was an invaluable resource on Nantucket history to all—from renowned writers and filmmakers, to genealogists tracing their island roots, to school children wanting to hear “everything you know about whaling” for a class project. Hence, she became known as “the seat of all wisdom.” Inquiries came from around the world and around the corner. Libby particularly enjoyed a challenge that would send her deep into the library’s resources and archives for the answer.
The NHA mourns the loss of Libby, our dear friend and colleague, on June 20, 2018. More
Below are just some of Libby’s responses to research questions. Stay tuned for more.
- What’s in a Nantucket name?
“What’s in a name!” Juliet to Romeo “With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost.” Humpty-Dumpty to...More Read more from What’s in a Nantucket name?
- When did Nantucket become a vacation hotspot?
The summer visitor would be the catalyst for Nantucket’s recovery [from the demise of whaling]. As early as 1828 island...More Read more from When did Nantucket become a vacation hotspot?
- When did Nantucketers begin whaling?
Beginning with the English settlement, the “faraway land,” as Nantucket is translated, developed into a community of small farmers and...More Read more from When did Nantucketers begin whaling?
- Who really was the inventor of modern baseball?
In 1971, the NHA received a letter from Harold Peterson of Sports Illustrated, who wrote: “I am writing a history...More Read more from Who really was the inventor of modern baseball?
- Why did Nantucketers stop whaling?
Many factors combined to end island whaling. Nantucket was the nation’s leading whaling port until the mid-1830s, when New Bedford...More Read more from Why did Nantucketers stop whaling?
- Why were the Quakers so prominent on Nantucket?
Throughout the period from the mid-1700s to the late 1830s the island’s political, economic, and religious leadership was dominated by...More Read more from Why were the Quakers so prominent on Nantucket?
- Besides going whaling, what else did Nantucketers do?
Back on the island, the economy was centered on the whale fishery, with ropewalks, cooperages, blacksmith and boatbuilding shops, ship...More Read more from Besides going whaling, what else did Nantucketers do?
- Meghan Markle’s Ancestor Helped Found Nantucket?
Hi, can anyone with the Nantucket Historical Association confirm the information in this article in Boston Magazine? Dear Researcher, The...More Read more from Meghan Markle’s Ancestor Helped Found Nantucket?
- Nantucket, New York?
Nantucket—along with Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands—was attached to the New York colony until 1692, when by act of...More Read more from Nantucket, New York?
- How Libby Became a Verb
While not composed by Libby Oldham, this excerpt from “My Mother the Verb,” written by Libby’s daughter Maia Farish, explains...More Read more from How Libby Became a Verb
- Rotch Counting House and Pacific Club
Dear Libby, I am researching Massachusetts courthouses. Do your records show who built the 1772 Nantucket Courthouse at Water Street...More Read more from Rotch Counting House and Pacific Club