Who was Helen Marshall?

Helen Marshall at about age ten, ca. 1861. Quarter-plate ambrotype, 41/4 x 31/4 in. Gift of Marsha Hall Brown in honor of Florence Farrier Hall, 2012 (C281).

Young Helen Marshall (1851–1939) joined her family aboard the 1856–61 voyage of the whaling bark Aurora. Helen’s father, Joseph Marshall of Nantucket, commanded the Aurora, and she and her mother, Malvina, were making the voyage with him.

Helen was born on the island of Faial in the Azores, near the beginning of her father’s previous command. She spent eight of her first nine-and-a-half years aboard whalers with her parents. Returning to Nantucket in 1861, she continued her education on island and at Vassar College.

She made the Grand Tour of Europe in 1876–77 with her friend Ann (Mitchell) Macy, a sister of astronomer Maria Mitchell. Upon her return, Helen taught at Nantucket High School and later at the Norwich Free Academy in Connecticut. She maintained a cottage at ’Sconset in her retirement.

Portrait of Helen Marshall, circa 1870s. GPN1445.


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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