About the Portsmouth Athenaeum
Membership libraries were first created in the 18th century for the mutual edification of their members and to elevate the educational resources available in the community. The name “Athenæum” was used by a number of societies established during the nineteenth century to describe institutions with broader aims than just a library. The term is derived from Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and the classical temple of the arts and sciences named to honor her.
While there were once hundreds of membership libraries across America, there are now fewer than twenty left. The Athenæum today continues this long tradition of mutual improvement by maintaining a library of over 40,000 volumes and an archive of manuscripts, photographs, objects, and ephemera relating to local history. It also sponsors exhibitions, concerts, lectures, and other educational and cultural programs.
Shaw Research Library & Randall Gallery hours:
- Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
- Also by special arrangement
Both the research library and the exhibition gallery are free and open to the public. Public entrance is shared with Ireland on the Square (6 Market Square). The research library and gallery are on the third floor. For elevator assistance, please call (603) 431-2538.
The Joseph Sawtelle Reading Room is open to the public on Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. when staffed by volunteer guide.
The Athenaeum is closed for certain holidays and events, including the following:
- New Year’s Day
- Market Square Day (the second Saturday in June)
- July 4th
The Portsmouth Athenaeum is located at 9 Market Square in Portsmouth, NH.
The Research Library and Randall Gallery are at 6-8 Market Square on the third floor.
GPS Coordinates: Latitude – N 43° 4’ 37.5” Longitude – W 70° 45’ 27” MAP
The Reading Room is on the first floor of the Athenaeum at 9 Market Square.
The Portsmouth Athenaeum is handicap-accessible. For elevator access, please call (603) 431-2538.
Parking – Street parking is limited to two hours. We recommend using the High-Hanover parking garage, which is a block from the Athenaeum and Market Square.
For information call (603) 431-2538 | Email: email@example.com
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 366, Portsmouth, NH 03802
Physical Address: 9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Officers and Directors
President Bradley Lown
Vice-President Sally Gayer
Treasurer Jeffrey Keefe
Secretary Margaret Hodges
Past President Stephen H. Roberts
Librarian Robin Silva | firstname.lastname@example.org
Archivist Susan Kindstedt | email@example.com
Research Librarian Carolyn Marvin | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographic Collections Manager James Smith | email@example.com
Research Librarian Katy Sternberger | firstname.lastname@example.org
Office Manager Stephanie Tabit | email@example.com
Current Organizational Documents
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.