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.



Site 1

Whaling Museum
and Peter Foulger Museum

Nantucket Historical Association (NHA)
Broad Street at South Beach Street.

Image: Absalom BostonStep into the galleries of the Whaling Museum to find the portrait of Captain Absalom Boston (1785-1855), Nantucket’s only known black whaling captain. Captain Boston was a third-generation, life-long Nantucketer, whose grandparents and parents had been born into slavery.

In 1822, Captain Boston took an all-black crew aboard the schooner Industry on a six-month whaling voyage, returning with all hands and seventy barrels of oil.

After his 1822 voyage, Captain Boston bought land, ran a store, and inn, and helped establish a school and church. He received votes for public office and initiated legal action when his daughter, Phebe Ann Boston (1828-1849), was denied admission to the public high school. When he died, Captain Boston was likely the wealthiest African American on the island. . The formality of portrait here in the Whaling Museum attests to his prominence in the community.

The Whaling Museum also features a wide range implements, such as the temple toggle harpoon. This innovation sports a swiveling barb to fix the harpoon’s hook in the whale’s body and prevent its escape. This was invented in 1848 by Lewis Temple, an African American blacksmith in New Bedford. Though he never obtained a patent for it, the Temple Toggle is considered an important technological innovation which still today bares his name.

Image: footsteps
Back Black Heritage Trail® Next