Local historian Nathaniel Philbrick, whose “In the Heart of the Sea” was made into a movie by Ron Howard and will be released in December, was the guest of honor at the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s 170th Anniversary Celebration and $56 Million Campaign Victory Gala last week. The group did some digging on Philbrick and announced during the party that the writer happens to be distantly related to Herman Melville, which is pretty much perfect because “In the Heart of the Sea” tells the story of a sinking whaling ship off Nantucket that is said to have inspired Melville to write “Moby-Dick.” (The society says Philbrick is Melville’s sixth cousin, five times removed.) Other revelers at the gala included Elizabeth E. Barker, Stanford Calderwood director of the Boston Athenaeum; Plimoth Plantation executive director Ellie Donovan, and New England Historic Genealogical Society president and CEO Brenton Simons.
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