Since whalemen were paid at the end of their voyages, money had to come from somewhere while they were gone. In order to generate income, it was unavoidable that some women became entrepreneurs. They were granted licenses to run inns, sell liquor, and import tea and coffee. Others became midwives and teachers, providing needed services for their community while bringing in a modest income for themselves and their families.
While their men hunted whales, some New England women oversaw herds of sheep. Those sheep provided meat, wool and tallow for making candles. Although sheep shearing was generally done by men, women played an important role in most everything else.
Nantucket Historical Association