Back on June 16, after sitting to sell my wares at the Nantucket Book Festival’s Local Author Tent (my book The Daring Daughters of Nantucket), I headed out to Bartlett’s to pick some strawberries – they had just opened it up that morning.  I was surprised at how little was yet ripe and also what was under ripe – but it’s been so darned cold so no real surprise.  I picked two quarts quickly however, determined to make my son some strawberry bread.

My husband and I have read to him every night since he was tiny.  Multiple books are in the offing and one of them was given to him by a dear friend and mentor of mine.  It’s a book that she taught me about and how to use it with my students when I was also teaching on island.  When Nolan was born, she found the book – long out of print – online and gave it to him with several other wonderful books.  This books I still use today – it’s part of one of the Mitchell House Children’s Classes that we teach on occasion.  The book is The Good Giants and the Bad Puckwudgies, written by Jean Fritz and illustrated by Tomie de Paola.

Part of the story describes Mashop – a Wampanoag giant – dislike for tending to tasks assigned by his wife, Quant, and his deep preference for smoking his pipe (now you know where fog comes from!) instead.  One of the few ways Quant can lure him from his pipe and get him to focus on the task at hands is by making her much loved strawberry bread – and it’s what later lures him back home and out of the temptations of the mer-woman, Squant.

The bread came out wonderfully – I made it that afternoon.  I left one quart in the garage and I have to say, the strawberries continued to ripen and from those I made refrigerator jam – super easy and delicious!  I have an image here of it in my overcrowded-company-coming-to-dinner refrigerator.  Now, I’ll be hunting for wild strawberries!  Yum!  (Update: birds and animals beat me to them!)


Cleaning Historic Gravestones and Author’s Tent at the Nantucket Book Festival: A Busy Saturday

Lot 106 MMA PHC Historic Preservation Workshop

On Saturday, June 18th, I may feel, by the end of the day, that I need several of myself to accomplish everything. As a mother of a two-year-old with a fulltime job and the business of sitting on several boards, it would be nice to have three – or four! – of me; or me, myself, and I.

In all seriousness, this is a little promotion for our Stone Cleaning Workshop from 10-Noon on June 18th. I will again be joining forces with Paula Levy, Prospect Hill Cemetery historian, to demonstrate the proper way to conserve stone monuments – aka gravestones. We have been doing this for about ten years now and it’s an interesting way to learn about Prospect Hill and how to conserve these beautiful stones, while at the same time helping to preserve them! I just ask that you call the Mitchell House to reserve a spot – 508.228.2896. It is $10 for MMA Members and $15 for Non-Members which helps to defray the cost of supplies. Just wear clothes that can get dirty.

And on another note, I have been asked to be one of the local authors at the Nantucket Book Festival’s Local Author’s Tent this year and I am very honored to do so. It runs from 9-12 and 12:30 – 3:30. Since I will be cleaning stone monuments in the morning, I will be at the tent for the afternoon session. Lots of interesting authors will be there at the different sessions so come check it out. I will be representing my book, The Daring Daughters of Nantucket Island: How Island Women from the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Centuries Lived a Life Contrary to Other American Women. So please stop by and say hello!


My Book Signing At Mitchell’s Book Corner

JNLFBookSign at MBC

Well, after not showing my face on Main Street for the Daffodil parade since I was probably a child, I will be there – well, indoors at least.

I am pleased to announce that Mitchell’s Book Corner has asked me to do a book signing on Saturday, April 25th from 10-11AM for my book Daring Daughters of Nantucket Island: How Island Women from the Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Centuries Lived a Life Contrary to Other American Women. Being an alum of Mitchell’s (or a “book nymph” as a few of us referred to ourselves under the “Book Goddess” Mimi Beman), makes it extra special for me having assisted numerous island and world famous authors with their book signings. Working at Mitchell’s was my first fulltime, year-round job when I graduated from college. And it was a great learning experience. Mimi hired me based on my “connection” to the Mitchell family –having worked, by that time, at the Maria Mitchell Association for about a decade (I started volunteering at the Mitchell House about 1986 or so). It did add to the confusion – I once answered the phone at MBC by saying, “Mitchell House.” Thankfully, it was Mimi on the line – can you believe? A little dismayed but then she started to laugh heartily.

So stop by and say hello and support your local independent bookstore!


Hot Off the Press: The Daring Daughters of Nantucket Island


I posted this a few months ago. I post it again as a way to say thank you to Mitchell’s Book Corner (MBC) for featuring my book in its advertisement in the March 26 edition of the Inquirer and Mirror. As a MBC alum, I think I burst a button – between the ad and having my book on the front table at MBC – thank you!

Well, I finally did it. After many, many requests and at the urging of many, I published a small book. It took me a little longer than I hoped but I have managed to take my master’s thesis and put it into something I hope will start a better conversation concerning Nantucket women and give them more credit then, “they had to do it.” As the curator of the Mitchell House, Archives and Special Collections, it’s pretty obvious what I am up to my ears in besides historic preservation, collections care, and outreach; I also eat, sleep, and breathe Nantucket history – women, Quakers, architecture, the history of the MMA, you name it, I am constantly reading, researching, and learning about it. Do I know everything? No – I learn something new every single day. But, in my travels with Nantucket women – thus far – I have come to some new conclusions and this became the basis of my master’s thesis and thus this small book I have created. I feel that I am bringing something new to the table and I hope this helps to open the discussion. I have a lot more research and writing to do – I have only barely scratched the surface here – but I felt it was time to get that conversation going.

Books are available at several places on island, including at the MMA Gift Shops, and by contacting me. A portion of the proceeds will go to a restricted fund for the Mitchell House for conservation purposes.


It’s Women’s History Month – Learn Something New About The Women Who Shaped Our Island Home! Grace Brown Gardner, 1880 – 1973

Grace Brown Gardner.  Photograph courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

Grace Brown Gardner. Photograph courtesy of the Nantucket Historical Association.

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.


Island History at “Nantucket Chronicle”

In a little bit of self-promotion but also some cross-pollination, I would like to make you aware of “Nantucket Chronicle,” an online island magazine for islanders (and visitors) that is now in its second year. I have been writing for the “Chronicle” for about a year now. My column, “The Nation of Nantucket” features the people, places, and events that have shaped the island we know and love. I mention this here because I cover all sorts of island history for the “Chronicle” that does not typically show up in “Maria Mitchell’s Attic” including short biographies of island women of the seventeenth through twentieth centuries. So, if you have been enjoying this blog and want to learn more about our island’s unique history, take a look at “The Nation of Nantucket.”



Shameless Self-Promotion

Mitchell House, circa 1790

Mitchell House, circa 1790

Well, it’s not “self” it’s Mitchell House and Maria Mitchell promotion. Mitchell House and I have come (kicking and screaming?), into the 21st century. Cognizant that we have to reach younger generations and those who are more technologically savvy, we have been working to connect. We blog every week (sometimes more), our blogs get Tweeted out, we have a Pinterest page, and now, (drum roll please), we are on YouTube. I may not be looking too sweet, but Mitchell House has on it new coat of shingles on the south side, its gardens are revived, and it has undergone some wonderful conservation work of structure and artifacts too, over the last decade or so. So, it is putting its best foot forward.

Over the next few weeks, with the enormous help of my colleague, MMA’s Director of Natural Sciences, Andrew McKenna-Foster (cameraman, editor, and YouTuber), Mitchell House will be rolling out some short YouTube videos ( http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCS5DwRA-3yGNrFokyH7VIKg ) − with more to come over time – about Maria Mitchell, the Mitchells, the Mitchell House, island architecture, Quakers, and Nantucket women. So, you, those from afar, and others can learn a little more about the topics that are relevant to the mission of the Mitchell House and the legacy of Maria Mitchell. Unfortunately, you will have to see me but, I hope you learn a bit more about the House, Maria, the marvelous Mitchells and the island we call home.