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The Museum of African American History is dedicated to preserving, conserving and accurately interpreting the contributions of African Americans in New England from the colonial period through the 19th century.

 

 


The Black History Trail®
on Nantucket

Presented by the Museum of African American History and the Friends of the African Meeting House on Nantucket, the Black Heritage Trail® features 10 sites that reveal the heritage of African Americans living on Nantucket, especially in the nineteenth century.

The Trail is divided into two segments, Downtown and New Guinea. New Guinea is the section of Nantucket where blacks lived in the 18th and 19th centuries. Guided tours leave from the Whaling Museum and end at the African Meeting House.

Call 508-228-9833 to schedule your tour!

Image: footsteps
Black History Trail® on Nantucket

Downtown Sites
1. Whaling Museum and Foulger Museum
2. Dreamland Theater
3. Atheneum
4. Unitarian Church (South Church)
5. Sherburne House
6. Anna Gardner's House

New Guinea Sites (More)
7. "Colored" Cemetery
8. Five Corners
9. African Meeting House
10. Florence Higginbotham House

 


Nantucket Black History Timeline

1600s – Enslaved Africans arrive with the first white settlers.

1764 – First official record of the black population counts 44 persons.

1773 – Nantucket abolishes slavery. African Americans work as tradespeople, laborers, sheep and livestock raisers, and later as whalers and mariners.

1783 – Massachusetts abolishes slavery.

1820 – Nantucket’s black population is 274 persons.

1840
– Records report 571 “free people of color” (6% of total population).

1800-1850 – Black community grows as the whaling industry thrives.

Early 1820s – The African Meeting House is established as a school, church and social center of the black community.

1840s – School integration is hotly debated. Schools are desegregated in 1847.

1850-1900 – Whaling industry declines, many people leave Nantucket.

1911 – The African Meeting House closes.

1999 – The Museum of African American History completes historic restoration and reopens the African Meeting House to the public.


2005 - Research reveals the Florence Higginbotham House was built shortly after the property was purchased by Seneca Boston, an African American in 1774, a decade before slavery was abolished in Massachusetts. Boston was a weaver and formerly enslaved man who along with his wife, Thankful Micah, a Wampanoag Indian, raised their six children in the house.