Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Historical Archaeology

First Advisor

Nedra K. Lee

Second Advisor

Christa M. Beranek

Third Advisor

Douglas J. Bolender


In the late 18th century, the abolition of slavery through manumission initiated a period of enormous change in the lives of people of African descent living on Nantucket, MA. Newly free, people of color living on the island immediately began to establish families and purchase property. At the end of the 1700s, they founded the community of New Guinea, located on the southwestern edge of the town of Nantucket. Though enslavement had been abolished and the whaling industry brought economic opportunity to Nantucket, the people of New Guinea continued to experience evolving forms of racial inequality, discrimination, and violence. To better understand New Guinea as a free Black community, this research examined deed records, census records, and maps from 1750-1850, bringing together spatial, locational, and demographic data utilizing GIS. These data demonstrated how the embrace of a Black identity and the creation of community space on Nantucket were essential to the formation and persistence of New Guinea. Community space and Black identity also became critical tools in facilitating Black resistance, survival, and empowerment on Nantucket.