Wednesday, June 21, 2023
5:30 p.m.
Shaw Research Library & Zoom


From April through July in our Randall Gallery, the Athenaeum’s Exhibits Committee features the Wentworth family developed by historian Sandra Rux. As a complement to the exhibition, Ms. Rux will present Before “Live Free or Die”: The Wentworth Oligarchy 1715-1775, the family dominated Portsmouth and the New Hampshire colony from the early 1700s until the coming of the American Revolution. According to Jere Daniell, writing in Colonial New Hampshire, the Wentworths owed their political success to hard work, their understanding of New Hampshire politics and good luck. They developed and nurtured ties to the royal government in England. They, like many other New Hampshire businessmen and farmers, enjoyed grants and low prices for land, on which they harvested lumber to supply masts to the British Navy.


Sandra Rux received a BA in History from the University of Connecticut and an MA in History from Trinity College, Hartford CT, and is a graduate of the Museum Studies program of the Munson Institute, Mystic Seaport Museum. Her business career was with AT&T in New York City. She came to Portsmouth in 2005 as the Synergy manager for the Portsmouth Historical Society, Warner House, and Wentworth-Gardner and Lear Houses, later serving as manager and curator for the Portsmouth Historical Society until December 2014. Sandra was Curator of the Warner House Association (2014-2019), where she curated the exhibit “Three Centuries of Dining.” At the Athenaeum, she has been a member of the Board of Directors (2016 -2022), served as chair of the Exhibits Committee (2014-2021), and curated several exhibits.

The lecture series continues to celebrate our city’s significant anniversaries in Portsmouth’s quadricentennial year. This year, the talks shine a light on Portsmouth’s commerce over 400 years, the historic interiors of those who lived here, and finally, the impact of climate change as evidenced at Strawbery Banke.


Each program begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Shaw Research Library of the Portsmouth Athenaeum at 9 Market Square in Portsmouth, NH (unless otherwise noted). Reservations for each program are required as seating is limited. Please call (603) 431-2538 to reserve. If unable to keep a reservation, please call again to release the seat for someone else. If you are interested in attending virtually, please e-mail

Attendance at programs is free for Athenaeum Proprietors, Subscribers and Friends. Guests and members of the public are welcome to attend the entire series by becoming a Friend of the Athenaeum for as little as $25 per year, payable at the door. Admission to an individual program is $10.
Every presenter in this year’s lecture series is a Proprietor of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, suggesting the breadth of knowledge and interest in its dissemination that characterizes Athenaeum members. Each lecturer looks forward to engaging our audience with their knowledge.



Image: Postcard of the ancestral Wentworth House where Lt. Gov. John Wentworth raised his family in the early 1700s. The house stood between Manning Street and Puddle Dock in the South End. Considered the second oldest house in Portsmouth, the Wentworth house was opened for tours in 1923 during the tercentennial before it was razed about 1925. Courtesy photo.

Written by Irene Bush

For the complete 2023 Lecture Series, click the button.

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