Guide to the West Family Papers, 1798-1899

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.

Collection Details

Collection Number:
West Family Papers
West family
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 West Family Papers, Nantucket Historical Association.

Acquisitions Information:


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
    • Bunker, Sarah West, 1817-1858.
    • West, Benjamin, 1814-.
    • West family.
    • West, Paul, 1778-1862.
    • West, Phebe Ann, 1819-1899.
  • Corporate Name
    • Brant Point Light (Mass.)
    • Second Congregational Church (Nantucket, Mass.)
    • Straight Wharf (Nantucket, Mass.)
  • Geographic Name
    • Nantucket (Mass.)—Genealogy.
  • Topical Term
    • Businesses—Massachusetts—Nantucket—19th century.
    • Lighthouses—Massachusetts—History.
    • Women—Massachusetts—History—19th century.

Biographical Information

Descended from Charles West (1742-1821) and his second wife, Hepsabeth Paddock Barnard West (1744-1820), this branch of the West family was active in Nantucket education, local politics, and business.

Paul West (1778-1862) was born in Nantucket, Mass., to Charles and Hepsabeth West. He served on whaleships beginning at age thirteen, and, after building a reputation on voyages departing from the port at Dunkirk, France, was appointed master of the ship Cyrus in 1803.

During the Napoleonic Wars, he commanded armed vessels as a whaler and a privateer simultaneously. His financial success in these ventures allowed him to retire to Nantucket at the age of thirty-nine. In Dunkirk he married the daughter of a Nantucket captain, Phebe Hussey (1783-1846), and together they had three children, Benjamin H. West (1814-?), Sarah West Bunker (1817-1858), and Phebe Ann West (1819-1899). Sometime after Phebe’s death, Paul was remarried to Lucy Coffin (1785-1871).

Scope and Content

The West Family papers consists chiefly of personal papers from Paul West and his children. Included among the papers of Paul West are items concerning Straight Wharf, the Second Congregational Meeting House and Town Clock restorations in 1830-31, and the construction of lighthouses in Nantucket, Mass. Letters of Sarah, Benjamin, and Phebe primarily relate family events, though a series of Phebe Ann West’s exchanges with Thayer, Brigham and Company from 1872 until 1880 document her business affairs and investments. The collection also includes awards of merit for performance in school awarded to Benjamin and Sarah, as well as two diaries belonging to her.


  • Box 1 Folder 1 Genealogical information, undated
  • Box 1 Folder 2 Robert West papers, 1798
  • Box 1 Folder 3 Paul West papers, 1806-1847
  • Box 1 Folder 3.50 Paul West land deeds, 1813-1857
  • Box 1 Folder 4 Paul West papers concerning Nantucket town cisterns, 1829-1830
  • Box 1 Folder 5 Paul West papers concerning the repair and restoration of the Second Congregational Meeting House, 1830-1831
  • Box 1 Folder 6 Paul West papers concerning insurance on the Second Congregational Meeting House, 1830-1831
  • Box 1 Folder 7 Paul West papers concerning the restoration of the Town Clock, 1830-1831
  • Box 1 Folder 8 Paul West papers concerning Straight Wharf, 1834-1848
  • Box 1 Folder 9 Paul West papers: Straight Wharf dividends, deeds, 1825-1851
  • Box 1 Folder 10 Paul West papers: Straight Wharf bills and receipts, 1843-1845
  • Box 1 Folder 11 Paul West papers: Straight Wharf bills and receipts, 1846
  • Box 1 Folder 12 Paul West papers: Straight Wharf bills and receipts, 1847-1848
  • Box 1 Folder 13 Paul West lighthouse plans and agreements, 1849-1856
  • Box 2 Folder 14 Phebe Hussey disownment document, 1813
  • Box 2 Folder 15 Sarah West Bunker papers, 1827-1833
  • Box 2 Folder 16 Sarah West Bunker letters, 1852-1858
  • Box 2 Folder 17 Sarah West Bunker diaries and receipt, 1850-1891
  • Box 2 Folder 18 Benjamin West papers, undated
  • Box 2 Folder 19 Benjamin West letters, 1889-1898
  • Box 3 Folder 20 Phebe Ann West letters from friends and relatives, 1880-1899
  • Box 3 Folder 21 Phebe Ann West letters from Thayer, Brigham & Co., 1862-1865
  • Box 3 Folder 22 Phebe Ann West letters from Thayer, Brigham & Co., 1865-1867
  • Box 3 Folder 23 Phebe Ann West letters from Thayer, Brigham & Co., 1867-1869
  • Box 3 Folder 24 Phebe Ann West letters from Thayer, Brigham & Co., 1870-1874
  • Box 3 Folder 25 Phebe Ann West letters from Thayer, Brigham & Co., 1875-1880
  • Box 3 Folder 26 Mary M. West letter to sister Phebe H. West, 1880
  • Box 3 Folder 27 Homemade booklet of Nantucket events, undated
  • Box 3 Folder 28 Stephen West biography, 1858
  • Box 3 Folder 29 Robert Ratliff papers, 1816-1842

Processing Information

Processed by NHA staff. Finding aid by Abbie Minard and Amelia Holmes, June 2018.

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