Elizabeth Islands, a group of 16 small islands, constituting the town of Gosnold, Dukes co., Mass., lying between Vineyard sound on the S. E. and Buzzard's bay on the N. W., and extending about 16 m. S. W. from Cape Cod, from which they are separated by a narrow channel known as Wood's Hole; pop. in 1870, 99. The principal islands, commencing at the north, are Naushon, about 8 m. long by 1 to 2 m. wide; Pasque, about 2 m. long; Nasha-wena, 3 m.; and Cuttyhunk, 2 1/2 m.; they are separated from each other by narrow channels.
They were discovered in May, 1602, by Bartholomew Gosnold, after whom the town is named; he called the last mentioned island Elizabeth, in honor of the queen, a name since transferred to the group. On a rocky islet situated in a pond on this island a fort and storehouse were built, and the foundations of the first colony in New England were laid. Upon the return of Gosnold, about a month later, the colonists refused to remain, and the design of effecting a settlement was abandoned. Until 1864 the group formed a part of the town of Chilmark. The islands are noted for their beauty, have a delightful summer climate, and afford rare opportunities for fishing. On the E. shore of Naushon is Tarpaulin cove, a harbor much frequented by wind-bound vessels on the passage from Boston to New York. This island, which is well wooded and contains an abundance of deer, was the favorite residence, in the early part of the century, of James Bowdoin, the diplomatist, who had here a fine mansion furnished with a large library, philosophical apparatus, and a picture gallery. It is now the property of a Boston gentleman, who has here his summer residence; and it is much resorted to by artists. Pasque and Cuttyhunk are occupied by New York clubs for boating and fishing purposes. About 2 m.
N. and W. of Cuttyhunk and Nashawena is Penikese, comprising about 100 acres, formerly owned and occupied as a summer residence by John Anderson of New York, who in April, 1873, gave the island with the buildings and furniture (reserving the right of residing on a promontory of about 15 acres at the E. extremity) to Prof. Agassiz as a site for a summer school of natural history. He also gave to the institution the sum of $50,000 as a fund for its maintenance. The school, known as the "Anderson School of Natural History," was opened in the summer of 1873, and is to be carried on in connection with the museum of comparative zoology at Cambridge.