Maria Mitchell for Students

Early Childhood

“We always had books and were bookish people.” Maria Mitchell

Mitchell House and Observatory

The Mitchells’ Vestal Street Home (right) and the memorial observatory built in 1908. (Collection of Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association)

Maria Mitchell was born on Nantucket at 1 Vestal Street on August 1,

1818, shortly after her parents, William and Lydia Coleman Mitchell, purchased the home. Maria was their third child, following two elder children, a boy named Andrew and a girl named Sally. During their time there, Maria’s mother would give birth to seven other children. Like many 19th century Nantucket households, Maria’s family belonged to the Religious Society of Friends, or “Quaker Meeting.” On Nantucket many people became Quakers because it allowed them more freedom in personal and business dealings. Lydia Coleman Mitchell’s ancestors had been among the first settlers to flee Puritan rule in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settle on Nantucket; William Mitchell’s family followed just a few years later.

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