Manuscript Collections

Click here to see a list of our manuscript collection

Manuscript collections relate to Nantucket individuals and families, vessels, businesses and trades, churches, schools, local organizations, and voluntary societies. The documents, letters, journals, diaries, and personal papers span the years from roughly 1659, when Europeans settled the island, to the present day, with the bulk of the collections dating from the nineteenth century. The manuscript collections provide a fascinating first-hand account of island life and activities over three centuries.

Of particular interest are many records pertaining to the settlement of the island. Early deeds document land division and relations with the Native American population. The library contains the records of the Nantucket Meeting of the Society of Friends (Quakers) from 1708 to the end of the nineteenth century. Maritime documents, including marine insurance policies, sea letters, enrollments, licenses, shipping papers, manifests, and bills of lading are also included within the manuscript collections, as are whaling logbooks and journals.

The library’s collection of more than 360 whaling logbooks and journals dates from 1752 to 1923 and documents whaling voyages for vessels out of Nantucket and other ports. Many of the whaling logbooks and journals contain stamps and illustrations, accounts, navigational calculations, poetry and songs.

More than 420 account books detail the financial transactions of Nantucket farms, businesses, merchants, ship owners, banks, vessels, and households. The account books range chronologically from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries.

The manuscripts have been catalogued and this catalogue can be accessed through the internet. Click here to access the NHA's online database.

Click here to see a list of our manuscript collection