Introduction

For the past four centuries, the women of Nantucket have built this “anthill in the sea” into an enduring community worthy of Emerson’s epithet the “Nation of Nantucket.” Often, while their husbands roamed the world’s oceans, Nantucket women formed the social and cultural lifeblood of their “island home.”

The tangible evidence of these women’s lives is preserved in the collections of the Nantucket Historical Association, especially in the record of their personal writings in journals, letters, and diaries kept on land or at sea. No other form of literature compares to the immediacy of reading the description of a personal joy or tragedy in the handwriting of the participant, on the day it happened, in a letter or journal held in your own hands.

The magnetism of their personal stories is what attracted Susan Boardman to the women showcased in this exhibition. Each of them spoke in her own way to Boardman, who felt a kinship that enabled her to stitch the stories of their lives in commemorative embroideries. Susan herself combines so many of the outstanding qualities of these women: the artistic skill and vision, the spirit of inquiry and openness, a nearly scientific curiosity, and above all the sense of shared community.

Meet the artist, Susan Boardman, view her exquisite embroidered narratives, and watch the video telling the stories of some of the remarkable women Mrs. Boardman honors in her work. The Susan Boardman Collection, including exhibit catalog and notecards, is available online at the NHA Museum Shop.

The Nantucket Historical Association is proud to present Susan Boardman’s outstanding work in this exhibition.