Douglas Armsden Photograph Project

Pleasant Street, Portsmouth, NH, 1950s.

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Invasion of Iwo Jima, February 1945

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Armsden Business Card

Saco River Valley, North Conway, NH, c. 1960

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Rosamond Thaxter's house, Cutts Island, Kittery, Maine, c.1950

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

On set of "Whistle at Eaton Falls" in Dover, NH, 1951

Unprocessed image from the P60 Douglas Armsden collection.

Douglas Armsden in his studio at 240 Whipple Road, Kittery, Maine, c. 1940s.

Between 2018 & 2021, the family of prolific photographer Douglas J. Armsden (1918-2009) donated his photograph collection to the Athenaeum. Born in England and raised in upstate New York, Armsden and his family settled in Kittery Point, Maine. He captured the essence of mid-20th century Portsmouth, the Seacoast region of New England, and beyond. His work included wedding photography, family portraits, early documentation of historic houses, commercial and scenic images of Maine and New Hampshire, and editorial work for local newspapers and magazines such as The Shoreliner, New Hampshire Profiles, and Down East.

This collection also documents Armsden’s years of service in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and later, his daily life with his wife, Alice Decatur, and their three daughters, as well as family and friends in their “little piece of heaven” along Fernald Cove in Kittery Point.

The photographic images in the collection include print photographs, color transparencies, 35 mm film, and both medium- and large-format negatives.

In 2018, we estimated the archival supplies for the collection would cost $6,500. We reached our goal through a Thaxter Foundation grant, a Portsmouth Flatbread fundraiser, and generous donations from members of the Athenaeum, the local community, and Seacoast businesses. In late 2020 and 2021, we received additional Armsden material. We now need $2,500 to purchase archival supplies for the newer material.

When fully processed and available on our online catalog, this Armsden collection of roughly 30,000 images will nearly double the Athenaeum’s entire photographic collection!

If you would like to contribute to preserving this collection, click on the “Armsden Donate” button for PayPal. Remember, you don’t have to be a PayPal member to use PayPal. You can donate as a guest.

If you would prefer to pay by check, please make it out to to the Portsmouth Athenaeum with “Armsden” in the memo line and mail it to “Portsmouth Athenaeum, P.O. Box 366, Portsmouth, NH 03802.”

Thank you for your support!

Preserve Local History

To contribute to purchasing archival supplies for this collection, click on the button below.

Does Armsden Sound Familiar?

You may have come across Armsden’s photographs already in our collection. During his lifetime, Armsden donated a collection of negatives (P15 Armsden Photograph Collection). These invaluable historic images depict mid-20th century Portsmouth and other Seacoast locales. While there are duplicates in both collections, the images in P15 are an example of what the new complete Armsden collection will offer.

The existing P15 collection will also be reprocessed.  Click here to view the P15 collection.



Athenaeum Raising Money for Armsden Photographic Collection

By James Smith featured in the Portsmouth Athenaeum Newsletter, Spring 2019.

At The Athenaeum: Transcribe-a-thon attracts history lovers from all over the Seacoast

By Sherry Wood featured in the Portsmouth Herald / on Dec. 11, 2019.

Putting Together the Puzzle of Photographer Douglas Armsden

By Sherry Wood featured in the Portsmouth Athenaeum Newsletter, Fall 2020.

At the Athenaeum: Each image is a time machine

By Sherry Wood featured in the Portsmouth Herald / on Oct. 11, 2020.


Happy Halloween!🎃🎃🎃🎃

Four jack-o-lanterns sit on the front steps of the Armsden family home off Pepperrell Road in Kittery Point, Maine, circa 1950s.

Photographer Douglas Armsden captioned this frightful night photo: Spooks!

[Douglas Armsden Transparencies, P0061_00502]

#happyhalloween #pumpkins #jackolantern #douglasarmsden #transparencies #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #portsmouthnh #nh #Maine #seacoast❤️

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#tugboattuesday brings us a view of Portsmouth Harbor and the Moran tugs tied off Ceres Street, Portsmouth, NH, about 1980.🌊🚢⚓️

According to, we can provide more information on the tugs, which we can use to help date the image.

The E. F. Moran Jr. was built in 1940 by Harry A. Marvel and Co. of Newburgh, NY, as the Joseph Meseck for the Meseck Towing & Transportation Co. of New York, NY. That same year, the tug was acquired by the United States Navy and renamed the Metacom. After six years of work, the tug was placed out of service and stricken from the Naval Register. Within a year, the tug was returned to Meseck and renamed the Joseph Meseck. In 1954, the Meseck Towing and Transportation Co. was acquired by the Moran Towing Company of New York, NY, where the tug was renamed as the E.F. Moran Jr. According to the Portsmouth Herald, Moran acquired the Portsmouth Navigation Company in February 1968.

The Bath of New York tug spent nearly thirty years assisting vessels navigate along the Piscataqua River. Built in 1908 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company of Newport News, VA, the tug was known as the Bath. In 1958, the tug was acquired by the Portsmouth Navigation Company. In 1986, the tug was acquired by the Hartley Marine Services Inc. of Boothbay Harbor, Maine. By 2009, the tug was in Haiti.

In 1950, the Marie Moran was built by the Jakobson Shipyard Inc, of Oyster Bay, New York, and named the Hazleton. In 1963, the Moran Towing Company purchased the tug, renaming her. In 1984, the tug was purchased by the R.J. Casho Marine Towing Company of Wilmington, DE, and renamed the Marie Casho. Two years later, she was purchased by the Penobscot Bay Towing Company and renamed the Captain Bill. Since 2004, the tug was reefed off of Bayhead, NJ, as part of an artificial reef program, where it was renamed the Veronica M.

The color transparency was created by commercial photographer Douglas Armsden (1918-2009), of Kittery Point, Maine.

[Douglas Armsden Transparencies, P0061_00040]

#MoranTowing #Portsmouthtugs #tugboats #DouglasArmsden #workingwaterfront #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #Maine #Seacoast❤

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#WaybackWednesday takes us to lower Congress Street when it was open to two-way traffic, circa 1948.

So many neon signs including the Blue Goose Restaurant. What a sight Congress Street must have been at night!😍

You may recognize the buildings and businesses on the south side including the Clarke`s Clothes of Distinction, the brick Kearsarge Hotel and further up Winebaum`s Newsstand (that sign ❤). In Market Square, we see the North Church and Moulton`s Restaurant. Beyond is the old Memorial Bridge.👋

On the north side, the buildings in the immediate foreground include signs for Hassett`s music store and Kauf`s Auto. These buildings were demolished during urban renewal in the early 1970s. If you can see through the signs, you`ll see Liggett`s Drugs and the Arcadia Theater in the extant Franklin Block.

What it would be like to drop into this photograph`s time period?

Until one of us develops a time machine, we`ll just have to rely on our museums, historical societies, libraries, and archives (ahem, like the Athenaeum😏) to take us back.

Local photographer Douglas Armsden (1918-2009) took this photo, so we have him to thank for taking us on this particular trip and for taking us on so many others. Thank you, Cap`n.🙏

We are in the last hour of @nhgives, and we need you to steer us to our final destination for funding our Armsden Project.

We still need $1,000 to reach our goal to purchase archival supplies for the Armsden photograph collection. That`s $10 from 100 people who love getting lost in the history of an Armsden photo.

👉Link in bio to donate.

🚨Day of giving ends at 5 p.m.

Thank you to those who have already helped us reach $1,500! We are overwhelmed at your generosity.☺️

#CongressStreet #DouglasArmsden #neonsigns #nhgives #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #Maine #Seacoast❤

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