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 hours:

Open to the public on the first & third Saturdays and the second & fourth Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Volunteer dependent. Check our calendar.

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
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas

The Portsmouth Athenaeum is located in three adjoining buildings in Market Square: the 1805 Building, the Foye Building, and the Peirce Block. The Sawtelle Reading Room is on the first floor of the Athenaeum at 9 Market Square. The Shaw Research Library and Randall Gallery are at 6-8 Market Square on the third floor. For elevator access, please call (603) 431-2538.

GPS Coordinates:  Latitude – N 43° 4’ 37.5”  Longitude – W 70° 45’ 27”  MAP

Parking – Street parking is limited. We recommend using the High-Hanover parking garage, which is a block from the Athenaeum and Market Square.

Contact Information

For information call (603) 431-2538 | Email: info@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 366, Portsmouth, NH 03802

Physical Address: 9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH 03801

Officers and Directors
President                   Jeff Keefe

Vice-President      Jan Dinan

Treasurer                  Adm. Craig Steidle

Secretary                  Peggy Hodges

Past President       Sally Gayer



Ann E. Beattie
Elizabeth Farish
Christine Friese
Alan Gold
Michael Labrie
Susan Lassen
Donald Margeson
Curtis H. Springer
Anne Weidman


Keeper & Executive Director Tom Hardiman | thardiman@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Librarian Robin Silva | rsilva@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Office Manager Stephanie Hobbs Tabit | stabit@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Photographic Collections Manager James Smith | jsmith@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Research Librarian Carolyn Marvin | cmarvin@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Archivist Katy Sternberger | ksternberger@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Assistant Librarian / Cataloger June Spezzano | jspezzano@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Hewson | shewson@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Special Projects Librarian Susan Kindstedt | skindstedt@portsmouthathenaeum.org

Gifts of Research Material

The Athenæum is appreciative of donations of historic photographs, personal papers, business and organizational records, ephemera, maps, works of art, and books relating to the Piscataqua region. All contributions and gifts are tax-deductible under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Deposits of records from other non-profit organizations, to provide proper care and public access for research, will be considered.

For more information, please contact us at info@portsmouthathenaeum.org.

Building and Interior: Video and Still Photography Policy

Arrangements must be made in advance for the photographing of the Athenaeum’s interior spaces and collections. Consideration for staff time and normal use of library is essential. There may be a fee for this service.

For more information, please contact us at info@portsmouthathenaeum.org.

Employment Opportunities
There are currently no job openings.

Portsmouth Athenaeum

Mission Statement

The Portsmouth Athenaeum is a membership library that welcomes all who seek knowledge to experience culture and share in the history of the Piscataqua region so that together we may find meaning in the past to illuminate the present and the future.