Portsmouth Athenæum

A non-profit membership library, gallery, and archive, incorporated in 1817 and located in the heart of historic Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Armsden Photographic Project

In 2018, the Athenaeum received the photographic collection of prolific photographer Douglas J. Armsden (1918-2009). This collection of mainly mid-20th century images of Portsmouth will nearly double the Athenaeum’s entire photograph collection. Find out how you can help preserve this important collection.

The third-floor Shaw Research Library and Randall Gallery are open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday. For elevator access, please call (603) 431-2538.

Check our calendar for tours of the first-floor Sawtelle Reading Room.


March 2, 2024
  • Tour of Sawtelle Reading Room

    March 2, 2024 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    The first-floor Sawtelle Reading Room in the 1805 building is open for tours. Donations accepted.

March 6, 2024
  • Franklin Club

    March 6, 2024 @ 5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
    Portsmouth Athenaeum, 9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH 03801, USA

    The Junto, also known as the Leather Apron Club, was a club for mutual improvement established in 1727 by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. The Leather Apron Club's purpose was to debate questions of morals, politics, and natural philosophy, and to exchange knowledge of business affairs.

    The Athenaeum's newly formed Franklin Club was created with this mind. Please join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the Sawtelle Reading Room. We loosely follow the list of questions from Ben Franklin’s club, and generally chat and share thoughts about current matters of life and town in a casual manner. The Franklin Club is a great opportunity to bring new members or potential new members who are looking for an opportunity to socialize and get to know other folks that are part of the Athenaeum.



Shaw Research Library &

Randall Gallery


Tuesday through Saturday


1 to 4 p.m.



Reading Room Tours

Volunteer Dependent
Saturdays &
1 to 2 p.m.
(Check our calendar.)


The Athenæum houses an outstanding collection of documents and artifacts relating to local history. It also preserves what is undoubtedly the finest collection in the state of materials relating to the history of New Hampshire’s only major seaport.

New Books in the Library

New Books in the Library

The new book list is here! New year, new books for you to check out in the library. Proprietors and Subscribers, click on the button below to discover the new books now available in the library. Not a Proprietor or a Subscriber? Find out how you can become a member...

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Update on the Portsmouth Plaque Program

Update on the Portsmouth Plaque Program

The Portsmouth Historic Plaque Committee, a legacy project originating from the PNH400 2023 celebrations is continuing into 2024! The owners of any building, no matter the age or location in Portsmouth, can research the origins of their home and complete the...

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We, the Proprietors of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, associate to promote learning and advance useful knowledge among our constituents and the wider community by facilitating convivial interchange and intellectual discourse; maintaining our historic buildings and library; and collecting and preserving materials relevant to the history and culture of Portsmouth and the Piscataqua Region.