Guide to the Nantucket Educational Societies Collection, 1810–1935

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.


This is an artificial collection of records of educational societies assembled by the Nantucket Historical Association and includes records of several educational societies of Nantucket, Mass. including the Botanical Society of Nantucket, The Coterie, Female Auxiliary Tract Society, The Female Reading Society, Nantucket Book Club, Nantucket Lyceum, Nantucket Musical Society, Nantucket Sacred Musical Society, Pleyel Society, The Philosophical Institute of Nantucket, and Wednesday Reading Club.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
Nantucket Educational Societies Collection
Nantucket Historical Association.
0.5 linear feet (approximately 30 items)
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 Nantucket Educational Societies Collection, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:

Folders 2 and 4 a gift of Mrs. William C. Nicholson (Acc. No. 1161).; Folder 5 a gift of an unknown donor (Acc. No. 827).; Folder 1 a gift of Josiah G. Macy (Acc. No. 3110).; Folder 13 a gift of Miss Anna G. Swain (Acc. No. 1975).; Folder 6 a gift of an unknown donor (Acc. No. 53-28).  

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

  • Corporate Name
    • Book Club.
    • The Botanical Society of Nantucket, 1878–1879.
    • The Coterie, 1844–1845.
    • Female Auxiliary Tract Society.
    • The Female Reading Society, 1848–1858.
    • Nantucket Book Club.
    • Nantucket Lyceum.
    • Nantucket Musical Society.
    • Nantucket Sacred Musical Society.
    • Philomatic Society.
    • The Philosophical Institute of Nantucket, 1826–1832.
    • Pleyel Society, 1821–1823.
    • Wednesday Reading Club.
  • Topical Term
    • Women -- Massachusetts – Nantucket -- Societies and clubs.
    • Men -- Massachusetts -- Nantucket -- Societies and clubs.
    • Young adults -- Massachusetts -- Nantucket -- Societies and clubs.
    • Education--Massachusetts--Nantucket.

Biographical Information

This is an artificial collection of records of educational societies assembled by the Nantucket Historical Association. In some instances, the NHA gathers materials of a single topic to preserve them and make them available. In these cases, the NHA is seen as the creator of the artificially constructed collection. 

The Botanical Society of Nantucket, 1878–1879  

The society was founded by Mrs. Catherine Starbuck for men and women interested in botany. 

The Coterie, 1844–1845  

This organization was created by young men and women to enlarge and improve their minds and enjoy good food. Each member was to contribute an original composition which would be read before the society at regular meetings.  

Female Auxiliary Tract Society 

This society was founded on 7 September 1835 to promote the interests of evangelical religion by circulating religious tracts and supporting the American Tract Society. 

The Female Reading Society, 1848–1858  

Despite its name, the society included men at its meetings. Its members wrote poems and essays and read them at the society’s regular meetings.  

Nantucket Book Club 

An unidentified book club on Nantucket. 

Nantucket Lyceum 

A society formed by men interested in literature for the purpose of social improvement through lectures and debates held at the Atheneum. The first officers were John H. Shaw, Thomas Macy, Charles F. Winslow, William H. Geary, and Henry C. Worth.  

Nantucket Musical Society 

A musical society in Nantucket comprised of soprano, alto, bass, and tenor singers.  

Nantucket Sacred Musical Society 

A musical society including an orchestra. Officers included L. Haynes Jenks, Esquire, President; Victor Williams, Leader; and Frederick W. Cobb, Secretary and Treasurer.  

Philomathic Society 

An organization formed for the purpose of gaining useful knowledge. Officers included George Starbuck, President; Henry M. Pinkham, Treasurer; Leonard Fisher; George Parker; Richard Gardner; and H. Jenks. 

The Philosophical Institute of Nantucket, 1826–1832  

This organization was created by Nantucket men to promote general science and agricultural, mechanical and nautical arts specifically. No political or religious controversy could be introduced. Non-Nantucket residents who had attained sound literary distinction could also be members. In 1831, men and women under 21 were admitted to honorary membership. They paid no dues and had no vote.  

Pleyel Society, 1821–1823  

This society was organized to introduce members to religious music as a source of entertainment. The society gave concerts to raise money for books and instruments.  

Wednesday Reading Club 

This reading club founded by Mrs. Eugenia M. Snelling met weekly from 1916 to 1935 to discuss books. A history of the group written by Frances C. Ratcliffe was presented at an informal meeting of the remaining group members on 10 October 1952.  

Scope and Content

This collection consists of constitutions, member lists, minutes, addresses, poetry, essays, and songs created by several educational societies on Nantucket. 


Folder 1 Botanical Society of Nantucket: Minutes, 1878–1879  

Folder 2 Coterie: Minutes, 1844–1845  

Folder 3 Coterie: Poetry, essays and songs, undated  

Folder 4 Coterie: Poetry, undated 

Folder 5 Female Auxiliary Tract Society: Minutes and receipt, 1835–1844 

Folder 6 Female Reading Society: Minutes, 1848–1858  

Folder 7 Female Reading Society: Poetry and essays, undated 

Folder 8 Musical Societies: Member lists, undated  

Folder 9 Nantucket Book Club: Member list,  undated  

Folder 10 Nantucket Lyceum: Incorporation act, 1827  

Folder 11 Philomathic Society: Membership certificate (photocopy), circa 1990 

Folder 12 Philosophical Institute: Addresses and admittance cards, 1829–1832 

Folder 13 Philosophical Institute: Minutes, 1826–1832  

Folder 14 Pleyel Society: Address and notes, 1823, undated  

Folder 15 Wednesday Reading Club: History, 1952 

Processing Information

Processed by Cindy Li, August 2022. 

Finding Aid by Cindy Li, August 2022 with updates by Ashley Miller, January 2023. 

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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