About the Research Library
The NHA Research Library was built in 1904 as safe and fireproof storage for the collection of artifacts and documents that had been growing since the inception of the Nantucket Historical Association in 1894. One of the country’s earliest concrete buildings, it was built behind the Friends Meeting House on land owned by the NHA.
The building was for years known as the Fair Street Museum, the primary exhibition space of the association, with collections arranged in a “cabinet of curiosities” style on both floors of the building. As the association expanded its properties in the twentieth century, however, creating additional exhibition and storage spaces, the fireproof building was retrofitted, restored, and enlarged in 2001 as a library and research center.
Today, the Research Library holds a special collections repository of primary-source documents that record the history of Nantucket. The collection contain more than 5,000 published volumes and 50,000 photographs, as well as archival documents such as ship’s logs, account books, family papers, and scrapbooks.
The intimate Whitney Gallery at the entrance to the library offers a display of Nantucket history and the light-filled reading rooms are a haven for historians, students, journalists, filmmakers, homeowners searching for information about their Nantucket houses, and genealogists filling in the branches of their family trees.