Grace Brown Gardner, educated in Nantucket public schools, earned a bachelor’s degree in botany from Cornell University and a master’s degree from Brown University. She taught first in the ’Sconset School, and then in New Bedford, in Fall River, and at Framingham Normal School before returning to the island in 1942 after approximately forty years of teaching. She was an active member and trustee of the Maria Mitchell Association, the Nantucket Atheneum, and the Nantucket Historical Association.
Grace Brown Gardner is renowned for her compilation of scrapbooks chronicling island life, history, and people – a lifelong occupation that began in her father’s newspaper office – and for her love of the island’s natural history. Today, the fifty-two scrapbooks are an important resource for anyone doing Nantucket research; they are housed in the Nantucket Historical Association’s Research Library. Other of her books and some ephemera are located at the Maria Mitchell Association’s Archives and Special Collections. Natural science specimens that she collected for the MMA reside in the MMA’s natural science collections.
She lived in her family home at 33 Milk Street – once known as the Big Shop – and the building that played host to the second anti-slavery meeting on Nantucket.