Food for Thought: Black Presence in the Nantucket Archive with Kayci Merritte

This talk moves through the history of Nantucket by examining select materials from the NHA’s archive. The focus will be the notion of “Black presence,” or how Black people on Nantucket are glimpsed in the island’s records.

Kayci Merritte’s research trips to the NHA’s Research Library focused on recovering narratives from the archive about Black people as they were found in spaces ranging from the historic whaleship to the still-forming spaces of tourism on Nantucket. Her research was informed by a variety of materials, including personal letters, newspaper clippings, ships’ logs, postcards, and tourist manuals. This research fits into her broader academic work and teaching focused on notions of Black space and place.

Kayci Merritte is a PhD candidate in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. Her dissertation works within the areas of Black geographies and environmental humanities, and analyzes perilous everyday environments and materials.

In an effort to enhance the public’s knowledge and understanding of the heritage of Nantucket, Mass., the NHA offers an annual fellowship, the E. Geoffrey and Elizabeth Thayer Verney Fellowship. Established in 1999, the award encourages research in the collections of the Nantucket Historical Association Research Library and is open to academics, graduate students, and independent scholars.

Applications or inquiries may be sent to Amelia Holmes at

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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