Guide to the Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan Family Papers, 1811-1969

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.


The Monaghan sisters, Gertrude and Hannah, were both artists as well as devout Quakers who were known . These two aspects of their identity had a clear impact on their view of life, and their Nantucket home, Greater Light, became a physical representation of their art-centric and pious lifestyle on Nantucket. This collection houses documents relating to their artistic, religious, and everyday life. 

Collection Details

Collection Number:
Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan Family Papers
1.75 linear feet
Nantucket Historical Association
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 Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan Family Papers, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:

Bequest of Hanna D. Monaghan in 1972. The addition of 2018 was transferred to the Research Library from the Gosnold Collections Center in May 2018 (Acc. RL2018.13). 

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.

Subject Headings

  • Personal Name
    • Monaghan, Gertrude, 1887-1962.
    • Monaghan, Hanna, 1889-1972.
    • Monaghan, Jay, 1891-1980.
  • Topical Term
    • Greater Light (Nantucket, Mass.).
    • Quakers—Massachusetts—Nantucket.

Biographical Information

Hanna Monaghan (1887-1962) and Gertrude Monaghan (1889-1972) were born in West Chester, PA., to James and Anna (Jackson) Monaghan. The sisters came to Nantucket, Mass., in the early 1920s after having studied at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Following several summers spent in studio apartments on island, they converted an eighteenth-century cow and pig barn (on what is now Howard Street) into a summer residence in 1929. This residence—which the sisters named “Greater Light”—served as an exhibition and gathering space for artists.  

Associated with the Swarthmore Friends Meeting of Pennsylvania, the Monaghan’s were heavily involved in the revival of meetings at the old Quaker Meeting House by 1938. In many ways, their home on island was an expression of their faith (the name itself referring both to Genesis and the Quaker idea of “inner light”).  

James Jay Monaghan IV (1891-1980), the younger brother of Hanna and Gertrude, published works on western United States history. He received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College in 1913 and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1918. Following his studies, James served as an instructor in aerial photography during World War I and later owned sheep and cattle ranches in the West. He undertook many writing and research projects both personally and professionally. 

Scope and Content

The Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan Family Papers collection includes correspondence, sketches, and papers relating predominantly to Hanna Monaghan (1889-1972) and other members of her family, primarily Gertrude Monaghan (18871962) and James Jay Monaghan IV (1891-1980). There are also various copies of Hanna Monaghan’s manuscript on George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). 


Series 1: Gertrude and Hanna Monaghan Family Papers, 1811-1953   

Box 1 Folder 1 Correspondence: Letters in, 1930-1953, undated

Box 1, Folder 2 Correspondence: Letters out, undated

Box 1, Folder 3 Religious paper, clippings, cards, etc., undated

Box 1, Folder 4 Architectural sketches, undated

Box 1, Folder 5 Pastoral, animal and street scene sketches, undated

Box 1, Folder 6 James Monaghan: Letters out, 1811-1873, undated

Box 1, Folder 7 Miscellaneous notes and poetry, undated

Series 2: Addition of 2018, 1897-1969

Box 2, Folder 8 James Jay Monaghan IV: Letters in, 1913-1941 

Box 2, Folder 9 James Jay Monaghan IV papers, circa 1936

Box 2, Folder 10 F. L. Rawson writings and materials on the Quaker way of life, undated

Box 2, Folder 11 George Fox manuscript handbill, undated

Box 2, Folder 12-14 George Fox manuscript, undated

Box 2, Folder 15-18 George Fox manuscript, undated

Box 3, Folder 19 George Fox manuscript, undated

Box 3, Folder 20 George Fox manuscript, undated  

Box 3, Folder 21-23 George Fox manuscript, undated  

Box 3, Folder 24  George Fox manuscript, undated  

Box 3, Folder 25 George Fox manuscript, undated  

Box 3, Folder 26-28  George Fox manuscript, undated

Box 4, Folder 29 George Fox manuscript,, undated

Box 4, Folder 30  News clippings, undated  

Box 4, Folder 31  Notebook, undated  

Box 4 Folder 32  Pamphlets, 1959, undated  

Box 4 Folder 33 Pendle Hill materials, 1961-1965  

Box 4 Folder 34 Photographs, undated  

Box 4 Folder 35 Practitioner’s register booklets, undated 

Box 4 Folder 36  Shih Tzu Club of America: Shih Tzu Bulletin, 1963-1969  

Box 4 Folder 37 Materials on Shih Tzu, 1967-1969, undated  

OPF-89/1 Religious Society of Friends: Meeting sign, undated 

OPF-89/2  “The Shaggy Success of the Shih Tzus”, 1969 

OPF-89/3 Photographs, undated

Items Separated

  • OPF-89/1-3 (Oversized paper folders)

Processing Information

Processed by NHA staff. 

Finding aid by Sarah Lerner and Amelia Holmes, September 2018 and Thomas Perich, August 2023.

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