The Black History Trail®
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.
to schedule your tour!
Museum and Foulger Museum
2. Dreamland Theater
4. Unitarian Church (South Church)
6. Anna Gardner's House
New Guinea Sites (More)
7. "Colored" Cemetery
9. African Meeting House
Florence Higginbotham House
Black History Timeline
1600s – Enslaved Africans arrive with the first white settlers.
1764 – First official record of the black population counts 44
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,
social center of the black community.
1840s – School integration is hotly debated. Schools are desegregated
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
reopens the African Meeting House to the public.
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.