NHA University: Captain Joseph W. Plasket and the Links between Nantucket and Chile

The recent discovery by an archeologist in Chile of documents about a previously unknown Nantucket shipwreck has led to a reevaluation of the career of Captain Joseph W. Plasket, providing new insight on Nantucket’s connections to South American seal hunting, the China Trade, the War of 1812, and transatlantic trade. Michael Harrison will present these new findings, plus notes on Plasket’s wife and seven surviving children–two of whom married sailors and three of whom became whaling captains.


Michael R. Harrison is a freelance historian and curator based in New York City. He also serves as the Obed Macy Research Chair for the Nantucket Historical Association. He has held curatorial positions at the National Building Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the Glasgow Museum of Transport. He is the author of numerous books and articles, as well as nearly seventy historical reports on maritime, architectural, and engineering topics for U.S. National Park Service’s Heritage Documentation Programs. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a master’s degree in museum studies from the George Washington University.

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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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