Spirits Within Us

As part of the Island People: Portraits and Stories from Nantucket exhibition at the Whaling Museum, the NHA has kept the holographic Spirits Within Us exhibit in place for another season.

Life on remote, windswept Nantucket has always fostered extraordinary women. Intelligent, educated, passionate, and brave, they took on difficult issues involving anti-slavery, women’s rights, suffrage, and times of war. Despite obstacles, they each assumed roles and attitudes that were not common for women of their time.

Bringing just a few representatives of this remarkable group back to life to meet our visitors., they’ll tell you in their own words about their remarkable lives and the people they knew who inspired them.

Healer and Peacemaker

Wonoma (1600s)
as told by Charlotte Baxter Starbuck (1853–1927)
portrayed by Sarah Fraunfelder

Great Mary

Mary Coffin Starbuck (1645–1717)
portrayed by Alexandra Kopko

Superior Woman or Traitor?

Kezia Folger Coffin (1723–1798)
portrayed by Cynthia Csabay

Agitator for Justice for All

Eliza Starbuck Barney (1802–1889)
portrayed by Pam Murphy


Journalist and Adventurer

Susan Austin Veeder (1816–1897)
portrayed by Casey Sayre Boukus


Activist for Equal Education for All

Anna Gardner (1816–1901)
portrayed by Eve D. Messing

with Eunice Ross (1824–1895)
portrayed by Morgan Smith-Jones

From the NHA Collections

Chippendale splat back side chairThe exhibit scene is set with select objects from the NHA Collections, most notably a chair that was part of a set brought to Nantucket prior to the American Revolution by Captain John Coffin (1708–1788), Kezia Folger Coffin’s husband. The chair was bequeathed to their daughter Kezia Coffin Fanning (1759–1820) and her husband Phineas (1750–1798).

Come to the Whaling Museum and hear Kezia Folger Coffin tell you the story of the chair.

Chippendale splat back side chair
Unknown maker
Bequest of Frank B. Howard, 1952.173.1



Conceived, spirited, and produced by
Novation Media

Creative development and screenplay
Mary Novissimo, Novation Media

Visual effects and holographic environment
Al Novissimo, Novation Media

Casting and direction
Justin Cerne, Theatre Workshop of Nantucket

Casey Sayre Boukus

Green-screen videography
Dee White and Catie O’Connor, Nantucket Community Television

Construction and staging assistance
Ed Rudd, Manny Sylvia, Mark Delay, and Kathrina Marques

Banner photo by
Jeffrey Allen

Special thanks for research by
Susan Boardman, Jascin Leonardo Finger, Peggi Godwin, Kate Hamilton, Michael Harrison, Nathaniel Philbrick, Betsy Tyler, Barbara Ann White, and the Manuscript Collections of the Nantucket Historical Association


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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