Donate to the Collections

The Nantucket Historical Association builds its collections through the generosity of individuals, families, and organizations. The NHA continues to accept donated materials that record the history of Nantucket, and collects personal and family papers along with institutional and organizational records, artifacts, artworks, textiles, moving images and sound recordings, and books on Nantucket history. The NHA collects materials from all time periods and is particularly interested in acquiring artifacts, personal and family papers, and business and organizational records of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The NHA does not have a chronological cut-off date for acquisitions. We strive to be more inclusive and to reflect the richly diverse history of Nantucket through to the present day. For the second half of the twentieth century and beyond, some of our current areas of expansion include:

  • The environmental history of Nantucket
  • Nantucket fishing and scalloping
  • Nantucket agriculture, food, and foodways
  • Nantucket boat building
  • Recreational boating
  • Island tourism
  • Ferry travel and air travel
  • Island real-estate development, historic preservation, and the built environment
  • Land conservation
  • Landscape gardening history
  • 20th and 21st century Nantucket social and cultural history

Please contact the Nantucket Historical Association before sending material to be sure that it fits the NHA Collections Policy. We are especially interested in materials that are relevant to Nantucket’s history, are in stable condition, and have satisfactory provenance, clear title and no restrictions on use. If we are not the right repository for your collection, we will try to help you find an appropriate institution.

To discuss a possible donation, please contact curatorial staff.
Help defray the cost of accessioning and preserving your donation.

The NHA seeks, but does not require, financial support from donors for processing, preservation, and permanent storage of collections.

Donate artifacts

The Nantucket Historical Association seeks items that document the island’s cultural, social, political, religious, economic, architectural, and artistic development and that represent specific individuals, families, or groups and their stories.

  • Some of our current areas of expansion include:
  • Paintings of Nantucket vessels and maritime scenes
  • Paintings of Nantucket scenes, whether by major artists or not
  • Portraits of Nantucket people, particularly of women and people of color
  • Marine carvings
  • Historic ship models

Donate books, maps, and pamphlets

The Nantucket Historical Association Research Library collects modern scholarly works focused on the subject of Nantucket as well as works that illuminate the activities, occupations, values, and cultures of the island community. The Research Library collects these secondary sources to support research in the collection by both staff and the public. The NHA also collects published maps of Nantucket that do not duplicate our existing holdings and are in good condition.

Donate business or organizational records

The Nantucket Historical Association collects business and organizational records, including those created by churches, social clubs, non-profits, and charities. The NHA is interested in receiving donations of additional items for these collections, if they are Nantucket-related, do not duplicate existing holdings, and are in good condition. The NHA continues to collect materials documenting the island’s whaling industry, including voyage logbooks, account books, and shipping papers.

Some of our current areas of expansion include:

  • Nantucket business ephemera
  • Religious, educational, and related entities without an affiliated repository
  • Records of locally-based organizations and groups in politics, business, and social and cultural ventures that strongly reflect Nantucket’s character

Donate photographs

Where possible, the NHA acquires coherent collections of photographs rather than individual images. We accept all types of photographic materials, including negatives, slides, and prints, and are particularly interested in acquiring twentieth and twenty-first century photography depicting Nantucket people, places, and events.

Unless the photograph is of unusual interest, we do not accept photographs without a basic subject identification and/or date.

Donate personal or family papers

The Nantucket Historical Association acquires family or personal papers including letters, diaries, scrapbooks, wills, deeds, and school records. The NHA is interested in receiving donations of additional items for existing collections, if they are Nantucket-related, do not duplicate existing holdings, and are in good condition. The NHA continues to collect materials documenting the island’s whaling industry, including letters and journals documenting the lives of sailors onboard whaling vessels.

Some of our current areas of expansion include:

  • African American life and culture
  • Latino/a life and culture
  • Immigrant life and culture
  • LGBTQIA life and culture
  • Protest and social change from the mid-twentieth century to present
  • Veterans and Armed Forces on Nantucket

Donate home movies or other moving images

The Nantucket Historical Association collects home movies, videocassettes, and other unique moving images that document Nantucket events and the lives of Nantucketers. The NHA is interested in materials that are either the original item or a second-generation copy that have identifiable people, places, events, or time periods.

Appraisal of donated materials

The Nantucket Historical Association collects materials for their intrinsic and historical value. As an interested party in a possible donation, NHA staff, trustees, committee members, and volunteers are prohibited from providing appraisals of donated or bequeathed material nor of material offered for donation.

Staff may provide a list of multiple independent appraisers to donors, but it is the responsibility of the donor to select one, secure the appraisers’ services, and pay for the appraisal. The NHA will provide a donor’s selected appraiser access to relevant objects if they are already in the NHA’s custody.

If a donor has acquired a prior appraisal or obtains an appraisal at the time of donation, the NHA would appreciate receiving a copy of the written appraisal. Please contact the Chief Curator at for more information.


Banner image, Spermo Cutting in Whales on Japan, 1822, ca. 1823. J. Fisher . Oil on canvas.
Gift of the Friends of the Nantucket Historical Association, 2008 (2008.31.2)

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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