History on Nantucket
The Whaling Women of Nantucket (HIST 374)
This course will introduce the lives and the worlds of women living on Nantucket since the beginning of whaling in the seventeenth century. In semesters when the course is offered on the island, students will have access to the physical environment, the architectural remnants of women’s lives, and the rich resources of the local libraries and museums. Through both primary and secondary sources, we will examine the lives of the wives of whalers, indigenous Wampanoag women, and African American women, all of whom lived in close proximity on Nantucket. These women, living far from urban centers, were responsible for their homes and families alone while their husbands were away often for months or years at a time. We will look at their daily lives, the communities they built, and their ideas about womanhood in circumstances far different from their mainland sisters. We will read histories and biographies, and students will have the opportunity to conduct primary research in the Nantucket Historical Association archives, the Athenaeum, and the Whaling Museum. On Nantucket, students will have the opportunity to study the local architecture, cemeteries, and landmarks of early women’s history.
Prerequisite: Instructor permission required.