Guide to the Elizabeth Oldham Papers, 1956 – 2017

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Research Library at the Nantucket Historical Association. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the internet.

Summary

The Elizabeth Oldham Papers contains the papers, correspondence, and meeting materials from several projects and preservation initiatives that Elizabeth “Libby” Oldham worked on over the course of her career in Nantucket, Mass. Among other roles, she was executive director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce from 1982 to 1992 and served on the Steering Committee for the restoration of the African Meeting House on Nantucket.

Project materials that are represented in this collection include files from the Chamber of Commerce; administrative information and ephemera from the Nantucket Arts Council; files concerning the preservation of the South Church (also known as the Unitarian Universalist Church or the Second Congregational Meeting House); files pertaining to the restoration of the African Meeting House; correspondence pertaining to a new sign at the Academy Hill Apartments; oral histories by Oldham; and some of her personal correspondence. Other items include a small assortment of playbills from the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket as well as letters from Clay Lancaster and a selection of his original drawings on notecards.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
MS410
Title:
Elizabeth Oldham Papers
Date(s):
1956 – 2017
Creator:
Oldham, Elizabeth, 1927 – 2018.
Repository:
Nantucket Historical Association Research Library
Language:
Material is in English.

Information for Users

Restrictions to Access: No restrictions. Open for research.

Restrictions to Use: No usage restrictions.

Copyright Notice: Copyright is retained by the authors of items in this collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], in the Elizabeth Oldham Papers, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:

Gift of Maia Farish of Providence, R.I., in 2018 (Acc. RL2018.35 and 2018.28). Gift of Elizabeth Oldham in 2000 (Acc. 2000.21).

Sensitive Materials Statement:

Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual’s private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Nantucket Historical Association assumes no responsibility.

Related Collections

  • 2000.0021 – Collection of buttons and pins belonging to Elizabeth Oldham
  • 2018.0028 – Collections of buttons, pins, and medals belonging to Faith Oldham and Elizabeth Oldham
  • MS553, OH-35 – Paul Judy Grant Oral History Collection, 2014-2015 – Interview with Mary Elizabeth Oldham

Subject Headings

  • Personal Name
    • Lancaster, Clay
    • Oldham, Elizabeth, 1927-2018.
  • Corporate Name
    • Academy Hill Apartments.
    • Museum of Afro American History (Boston, Mass.) -- African Meeting House on Nantucket.
    • Nantucket Arts Council.
    • Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce.
    • Second Congregational Church (Nantucket, Mass.).
    • Theatre Workshop (Nantucket, Mass.).

Biographical Information

Elizabeth “Libby” Oldham, was born in 1927 in New York and settled on Nantucket, Mass.

Oldham had been a summer resident of Nantucket since 1951 and a year-round resident of Nantucket from 1979 until her death in 2018.

Oldham was executive director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce from 1982 to 1992. She served on the Steering Committee for the restoration of the African Meeting House on Nantucket. She had also been a research associate at the Nantucket Historical Association’s Research Library from 1996 to 2018. Oldham also served as copy editor of Historic Nantucket magazine and other publications. She was active in a variety of other island associations and numerous preservation initiatives throughout her life on Nantucket.

Oldham died in Nantucket in March 2018. She was posthumously named a Research Fellow at the 124th NHA Annual Meeting in July 2018.

Oldham’s daughter, Maia Gaillard Farish, was also involved in various associations on Nantucket. She served as the executive director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce from 1996 to 1999.

Scope and Content

The Elizabeth Oldham Papers contains the papers, correspondence, and meeting materials from several projects and preservation initiatives that Oldham worked on over the course of her career in Nantucket, Mass. All projects are related to the Nantucket community at-large.

Project materials that are represented include files from the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce; administrative information and ephemera from the Nantucket Arts Council; files concerning the preservation of the South Church (also known as the Unitarian Universalist Church or the Second Congregational Meeting House); files pertaining to the restoration of the African Meeting House on Nantucket; correspondence pertaining to a new sign at the Academy Hill Apartments; oral histories by Oldham; and some of her personal correspondence. Other items include a small assortment of playbills from the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket as well as letters from Clay Lancaster and a selection of his original drawings on notecards.

The grouping of materials pertaining to Oldham’s time as executive director of the Chamber of Commerce includes correspondence, brochures, newsletters, and photographs. Some correspondence pertaining to Oldham’s daughter, Maia Gaillard, is also included. A monograph on Nantucket, Mass., from 1984 details population, economic, housing, and education statistics as well as town finances. Editions of ChamberNews, including the first issue from 1996, are also included in this file.

The records pertaining to the restoration and preservation of the South Church (also known as the Unitarian Universalist Church or the Second Congregational Meeting House) in Nantucket, Mass., consist of detailed reports and proposals concerning the painting, gilding, and overall structural conditions of the church. Other items include letters from James Hendrix and Jack Hendrix, twin brothers who led a restoration of the church, which was completed in 1983. A copy of The Tale of the Bell by the South Church Preservation Fund is also included.

Records from the restoration efforts of the African Meeting House on Nantucket include correspondence, meeting agendas, brochures, fundraising plans and notes. Other material includes communication pertaining to an event commemorating Frederick Douglass’s 1841 visit to Nantucket. This file also includes a typed transcript of the proceedings from a symposium entitled Island Influences on Freedom & Civil Rights held at the Nantucket Atheneum on 18 September 1993.

Contents

Folder 1Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce correspondence, 1956-2003

Correspondence, brochures, and newsletters collected by Oldham while serving as the executive director of the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce. Of note is the first full-color brochure published by the Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce, which she designed. Some correspondence pertaining to Oldham’s daughter, Maia Gaillard, is also included. A 1984 monograph on Nantucket, Mass., details the population, economic, housing, and education statistics as well as town finances. Five editions of ChamberNews, including the first issue from 1996, are also included in this file. Other items include photographs involving the Chamber of Commerce. The file also contains an award Oldham received from Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld in 1992 for her contributions to the tourism industry in Massachusetts (OP-410/1).

Folder 2Nantucket Arts Council ephemera, 1979-2000

Includes a list of members of the executive board of the Nantucket Arts Council for 1979 and 1980. The council’s certificate of registration from 1980 and two playbills from 1999 and 2000 are also included.

Folders 3-4South Church files on preservation and paint analysis, 1983-2015

Includes letters and historical information pertaining to James Hendrix and Jack Hendrix, twin brothers who led a restoration of the South Church (also known as the Unitarian Universalist Church or the Second Congregational Meeting House) in Nantucket, Mass., which was completed in 1983. Also included are an application for the restoration of certain structural elements from 2004 and a proposal for the gilding of the cupola dome and wind vane in 2005. Another 2005 report focuses on a paint study and conditions assessment submitted by EverGreene Painting Studios, Inc. A copy of The Tale of the Bell by the South Church Preservation Fund is also included. This file also contains an in-depth report conducted in 2009 for the South Church, entitled the Decorative Paint & Wood Finish Report by John Canning & Co Ltd. The report includes a scope of work, analysis of existing paint, recommendations, budgets, and project schedule.

Folder 5African Meeting House restoration files and history, 1990-1994

Correspondence, meeting agendas, brochures, fundraising plans, and notes pertaining to the restoration efforts of the African Meeting House on Nantucket. The records lead up to the efforts surrounding the meeting house’s rededication by the Museum of Afro American History Boston (now the Museum of African American History), on 8 August 1992. Communication pertaining to a fundraiser commemorating Frederick Douglass’s 1841 visit to Nantucket are included as well. Additional fundraising material includes a statement of need and project description of the restoration efforts. This file also consists of a typed transcript of the proceedings from a symposium entitled Island Influences on Freedom & Civil Rights held at the Nantucket Atheneum on 18 September 1993.

Folder 6Academy Hill sign correspondence, 2013-2017

Correspondence regarding the need and construction of a new sign for the Academy Hill Apartments. Several proposed designs of the sign are included.

Folder 7Oral histories, 2012, 2014

Includes transcript of a 2014 interview (OH-35) from Nantucket’s Elder Voices series and a recording of An Oral History: Elizabeth Oldham, a project from 2012 of the Preservation Institute Nantucket through the University of Florida’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

Folder 8Personal correspondence and notes, 1976-2005

Correspondence, poetry, and Oldham’s resume from 1976.

Folder 9Theatre Workshop of Nantucket playbills, 1987-1995

Includes three Theatre Workshop of Nantucket playbills, including a commemorative playbill from its 35th Anniversary Season in 1991.

Folder 10Clay Lancaster correspondence and notecards, 1993-2001

Correspondence and original drawings on notecards drawn by Clay Lancaster, former island resident, artist, and specialist on architecture.

Items Separated

  • Oversize Paper (OP-410/1)

Processing Information

Processed by Kerry H. McAuliffe, November 2019.
Finding aid created by Kerry H. McAuliffe, November 2019.

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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