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Oversized folio book of navigation charts printed for East-India Company

Came with a custom box designed to protect it onboard the ship. Initials carved on the interior of the box “C.H.R.” belong to Capt. Charles H. Rollins (1824-1896), shipmaster and captain from Portsmouth N.H. Name written in ink on the exterior of the box “Mich. Hooker” refers to Michael Hooker (d. 1831), ship captain of Portsmouth, N.H. and ancestor of Capt. Rollins.


An early copy of the catalog of books in the Portsmouth Athenaeum

The Portsmouth Athenaeum was a subscription library founded in 1817.


An early copy of the Acts and Laws of N.H.

Owned by John Waldron of Dover, N.H. in 1772, with a handwritten list of his children and their birth dates.


17th Century Navigation Textbook

Paper practice “navigation instruments” still intact and functional.


Book of Psalms

This well used copy of the book of Psalms is presented in both English and the Massachuset language of the Algonquins. Experience Mayhew translated this edition into the Massachuset dialect from John Eliot’s 1640 version in the Natick dialect.


History of the Pirates of the West Indies

This second edition, the first edition published in Dutch, is a dramatic history of the pirates of the West Indies. This work has served as the basis for countless novels, stories, and dramas, as well as establishing the popular legends of many famous pirates. Sir Henry Morgan actually sued the author (a pirate himself) for defamation and was awarded £200 for damages.


Early N.H. childrens book published in Portsmouth

Bound with covers made from an early wallpaper. It is signed in a childs’ handwriting “Don Oliver.”



The Athenæum reflects the broad range of interests of educated nineteenth century Portsmouth citizens, including science and technology, history and exploration, theology, biography, navigation and maritime history, law, and arts and architecture. The personal libraries of two men, Benjamin Tredick (1802-77) and Charles Levi Woodbury (1820-98), are maintained intact in special alcoves in the third floor Library Room and several other early bequests of rare books are preserved in the collection. The library continues to acquire both new and old books in a wide variety of subjects of interest to its members. A special emphasis is made on collecting Portsmouth imprints and works relevant to the study of the region’s history.

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. The Sawtelle Reading Room serves as a gallery to display highlights of the maritime collection, including paintings of local ships, a series of portraits of ship captains, merchants, and naval officers, and the gilt figurehead from the schooner Alcea. A jewel of the collection is the plank-on-frame model of the ship America, built in Portsmouth for the Royal Navy in 1749. It is the oldest surviving model of an American-built ship. The Athenæum displays more than forty half-hull builder’s models of Piscataqua-built vessels, and the oldest surviving measured drawing of an American ship, the Elizabeth , launched from a tributary of the Piscataqua in 1752.

Of even greater importance than the impressive visual collections are the superb archival collections. These include the Customs House records for the port of Portsmouth during the American Revolution and the extraordinarily detailed records of the New Hampshire Fire & Marine Insurance Company, which insured hundreds of voyages during its twenty years of operation between 1803 and 1823.

A Brief Guide to the Reference Library

The following is a list of selective resources available to researchers of families and their history in the reference room of the Portsmouth Athenaeum.  Subject or vertical files: they are organized by location. See INDEX in blue folder on top of the fall file cabinets. The vertical files are located in two grey file cabinets. You may copy articles as long as they are re-filed in the same folder, keeping the same order

  1. Name files: a) Family files are organized alphabetically and located in the tall file cabinets. These files contain genealogical information, as well as other materials pertaining to various Seacoast area families. The list is not comprehensive. b) Street files were researched and organized by the Portsmouth Advocates. They are located in the low file cabinets and are organized alphabetically according to street name. They contain images and basic information on houses in Portsmouth, including the Historic District. Some files have extensive information pertaining to the history and occupants of significant buildings.
  2. City Directories 1821 to present: located in the Portsmouth section (middle stack of shelves). The city directories contain alphabetical lists of streets and family names. The head of households are listed, usually with profession or place of work, as well as the residence. Also listed in the directories are holders of town offices. Advertisements in the back of the directories can yield useful and interesting information. NOTE: Portsmouth street numbers changed between 1912 and 1914. The directory for 1914 contains both the old and the new street number.
  3. Church and Cemetery Records: Portsmouth’s major churches are the Congregational North Church, the South or Unitarian Church, and the Episcopal or St. John’s Church (known as Queen’s Chapel till the 1790’s). For these we have incomplete records of births, marriages and deaths. There are locators for the South Cemetery plots. South Cemetery includes four sections: Cotton (1721), Proprietors’ (1830), Harmony Grove (1847) and Sagamore (1871). Other existing historic cemeteries are 1) Graves’ End, 2) Pleasant Street, and 3) North Cemetery. In all of these you will find the tombstone inscriptions of certain Portsmouth family members.
  4. Maps: The Athenaeum has an index to maps in its collection. Most useful for the general researcher is the 1813, 1839, 1850, and 1877 maps of the city displayed in the research library. We also have the 1910 and 1920 Sanborn Insurance maps available. They are located on the horizontal file cabinet next to the tall file cabinets. NOTE: Buildings first appear on local maps after 1801.
  5. Electronic card catalog: The card catalog is available online at as well as in the research library itself. It lists all available books and pamphlets in the library. It is indexed by subject matter, author and title. The Athenaeum subscribes to a number of general periodicals and topical journals. These are stored in the stacks on the fourth floor. A list of materials in stacks is posted. Ask for assistance from library staff.
  6. Manuscript Index: The Portsmouth Athenaeum has 76 manuscript collections, and over 700 single item and small collections. Most of these are available for research. The finding aids are available on line as well, together with a subject index and a box list of items.
  7. Photo Index: The Portsmouth Athenaeum has a large collection of photographs, postcards, cabinet cards, stereographs, slides and negatives. Use the on line catalog to find your topic and note that the collections are organized from P1 to P25, followed by PS and the separate collection of the Isles of Shoals.
  8. Dictionaries: In the research library there are general dictionaries such as American Biographies, the Dictionary of American Art, and many more.
  9. Genealogy: Index and contents of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society are available on CD-Rom. Family genealogies are shelved together alphabetically in a separate section in the research library. Town histories are shelved in alphabetical order by state.
  10. Customs Records: A transcript of Portsmouth customs records is available in a 5-volume set, shelved on a cabinet at the end of the stacks.
  11. Newspapers: A list of newspapers is located near the lower file cabinets. We have newspapers on microfilm, and some original copies of the New Hampshire Gazette and other Portsmouth papers.
  12. Town, State and Regional Histories: A collection of town histories from New Hampshire and Southern Maine, covering the entire Piscataqua region, is available on the shelves of the research library.
  13. Micromedia and Multimedia: There is a collection of CD-ROMs, including records of the New England Historical and Genealogical Society, Civil War records, Revolutionary War roll, Evans’ Abstracts of New Hampshire Probate Records.
Book Collections in the Portsmouth Athenaeum Library By Richard M. Candee

Painted signs that once hung above the library bookcases help us understand the earliest subject organization of the Athenæum collections. “Periodicals, Science, Arts” were shelved together, as were “Irish, Scottish, English, French” histories. Two signs reflect belle lettres: “The Drama, Poetry, Classics” occupied one set of shelves, “Novels, Tales & Romances” another. In May 1853 Norton’s Literary Gazette described Portsmouth’s Athenæum as quite full of English and American history. “It has also a fine collection of Voyages and Travels, and of works of Natural History, besides many valuable works on Architecture and Ship Building.” With the Athenæum’s relatively high rate of book retention, this is still a fairly accurate summary of the nineteenth-century core library and makes the Athenæum book collections an important document of Portsmouth reading habits. Read More

We hope all your Easter weekend plans landed well with your loved ones.🐣✈️

This early 20th-century ouef-plane design comes from a Joyeuses Paques [🇫🇷Happy Easter] name placard that 26-year-old Marion Hackett used during a bridge party on May 17, 1911.🎴🃏

The Hacketts lived in Portsmouth in what is now known as the St. John`s Masonic Lodge at 351 Middle Street on the corner of Miller Avenue.

Cataloged by Athenaeum Librarian Robin Silva, Marion Hackett Roger`s (1886-1971) three scrapbooks are now in our online catalog. The scrapbooks are also featured both in our Spring 2024 newsletter and in a more in-depth look at Marion`s very busy social life in our latest "At the Athenaeum" column, available @seacoastonline. Link in bio.

Our fantastic member Sherry Wood @editorofthenight volunteers her time and expertise as both the editor and writer for our monthly articles, and she`s also the Athenaeum newsletter editor. Thank you, Sherry!!

Happy Easter!🐰

[Name tag adhered to the third and final scrapbook of Marion Hackett Roger`s, S0513c, E 3312.289]

#happyeaster #marionhackettrogers #ephemera #collectpreserveshare #PortsmouthNH

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Happy St. Patrick`s Day! 🍀

This 1987 city map for Portsmouth, NH, and Kittery, Maine, was an inset found in a Portsmouth City Directory in our Shaw Research Library.

Sponsoring the map was Regan Electric Co., Inc., of 236 Union Street, which was started by Daniel Vincent Regan (1922-2004) in 1954.⚡

Born in Portsmouth, Daniel was the youngest child of immigrants Michael Regan (1873-1936) of Caheragh, County Cork, Ireland, and Mary Elizabeth Connor (1880-1937) of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the 1890s, Michael arrived in America as a young man, and he worked at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard powerplant until retirement in 1935. The couple had 11 children, and they lived at 24 Woodbury Avenue in the Creek (pronounced Crick) Neighborhood. The Crick was a predominantly Irish and Irish-American tight-knit neighborhood along Islington Creek (North Mill Pond). Around 1900, many of the residents were employed in the nearby Jones and Eldredge breweries as well as factories on Islington and the shipyard. Descendants still call the Crick home today. 💚

Daniel Regan graduated from Portsmouth High School, class of 1941. According to his obituary, he served in the Submarine Service for the U. S. Navy during WWII. After the war, he worked as an electrician with Edgar Casey Electric, learning the trade.

In 1947, he married Beatrice A. Holt (1921-2011), and the couple raised nine children: two daughters and nine sons. In 1953-1954, he opened his own business, Regan Electric Inc., which is still owned by the family today, now at 94 Langdon Street.

#happystpatricksday #luckoftheirish #danielregan #reganelectric #creekneighborhood #thecrick #maps #citydirectories #collectpreserveshare #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #maine #seacoast❤️

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Happy Valentine`s Day!💖

This Valentine`s Day name tag reads, "In my pretty dress of yellow, I`m a match for any fellow," and it was used for an event attended by Marion Hackett Rogers (1886-1971) around February 14, 1912. Marion was the only daughter of Wallace Hackett (1856-1939) and Abbie Main Winchester (1862-1953). The Hacketts lived on the corner of Middle Street and Miller Avenue (now St. John`s Masonic Lodge), and during the summer, they stayed at Lawn Farm, the Winchester family`s sprawling country estate on Lafayette Road (the site of HIllcrest Estates).

Athenaeum Librarian Robin Silva has cataloged the ephemera in Marion`s three full scrapbooks (1903-1904, 1909 & 1911-1912), containing photographs, invitations, greeting cards, newspaper clippings, calling cards, letters, etc. It`s safe to say that Miss Hackett had a very active social calendar. Like many of the young Portsmouth area women mentioned in her scrapbooks, Marion married an United States Navy officer stationed at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. On August 29, 1914, she wed Lt. Robert Emmet Rogers USN (1886-1971) of Ozark, MO, in the Hackett home. Within the year, the couple moved to Annapolis, MD, where they welcomed their first of two children. Marion`s parents also relocated to Annapolis.

The scrapbooks came to the Athenaeum from Beverly Powell-Woodward of Hampton Falls, who acquired them from Marion`s life-long friend Miss Frances Healey (1886-1962) of Hampton Falls.

[Gift of Beverly Powell-Woodward, E 331.443.]

#happyvalentinesday #marionhackettrogers #hackettfamily #yellowfellow #ephemera #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #maine #seacoast❤️

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It`s lilac season on the seacoast!☺️🥰

Here, a young woman wears a hat of lilacs while holding a bouquet of lilacs in this undated advertisement poster for the Portsmouth Brewing Company, makers of Ales, Porter, and Portsburger lager. 💐

Portsburger lager? The beer was unique to the brewery.🍻

Located on Bow Street, Portsmouth Brewing Co. was originally the Harris & Mathes Company in 1871. Three years later, it was Arthur Harris & Company. Finally, in 1875, it became the Portsmouth Brewing Company, the smallest of three breweries in the city. In 1878, Portsmouth Brewing Co. sold over 15,000 barrels, which was about 25,000 barrels fewer than the Eldredge Brewing Company, and over 40,000 barrels fewer than Frank Jones, according to "Beer, Its History and Its Economic Value as a National Beverage" published in 1880.

With Prohibition looming, the brewery went out of business about 1918. Briefly, the building was the home of the Portsmouth Cold Storage Company before the property was purchased in 1923 by the Rockingham Power and Light Company.

In 1979, after renovating the space and adding the glass atrium, Theatre by the Sea moved here from Ceres Street, and the Bow Street Inn opened. Today, the building is home to Seacoast Repertory Theatre and the Ale House Inn.

[E 1070]

#lilacs #spring #portsmouthbrewingcompany #bowstreet #ephemera
#localhistory #portsmouthnh #nh #Maine #seacoast❤

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Happy Holidays! We wish you a Merry Christmas and warm tidings to all this holiday season.❄️🎄

Pictured is an advertising trade card for A. P. Wendell & Co., a Market Square hardware store, which was located a few doors down from the Athenaeum.👋

[Ephemera Collection, E 0242J]

Andrew Peterson Wendell (1844-1926) was born in Portsmouth, the son of Abraham Quincy Wendell (1813-1882) and Olivia Simes Wendell. A graduate of Portsmouth High school in 1859, Andrew worked in the family hardware firm in Market Square, which his father and uncle began in 1834. Briefly he left the business to work for two leading Boston hardware businesses. In 1864, he returned as a partner in his father’s firm along with his younger brother, Henry Wendell (1849-1917).

Andrew and his wife, Ruth A. Osgood, raised four daughters. Upon his death, he was remembered as a greatly respected "old time businessman" in Portsmouth.

You can learn more about Andrew P. Wendell and his life in Portsmouth through mostly 17 pocket diaries (1872-1922) found in our manuscript collection, MS070. According to the finding aid, Andrew always recorded the weather, sometimes adding temperatures and snowfall measurements. He also regularly reported the comings and goings of his household and how business in his store was doing. He rarely recorded national events or self-reflection. He noted the events in the city of Portsmouth – fire alarm bells, state election results, evening entertainment, alderman’s meetings, and other local events.

#merrychristmas #happyholidays #winterinNewEngland #AndrewPWendell #hardwarestores #tradecards #ephemera #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory
#portsmouthnh #nh #Maine #seacoast❤

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Tomorrow, Market Square Day returns to downtown Portsmouth!🎈🥳🎉🙌

With the street closures, the Athenaeum will be closed tomorrow, but we will celebrate in history! We always do!😉

Here`s the cover of the Guide to Market Square Day in 1986 when it was a three-day event. In 1978, MSD began as a celebration following the revitalization of Market Square by the City of Portsmouth and members of the community, transforming the downtown center into a more pedestrian-friendly and welcoming destination. From our perch in the Square, we see and hear so much activity every day. What a success!!🎵🥰🏆

We sampled some audio from @johnbreneman3 of the Market Square Day 10k back in 2017. John has a great article on the history of Market Square Day on his website

John writes, "The inaugural celebration marked a major milestone in Portsmouth’s nearly 400-year history — the dramatic transformation of an economically depressed downtown, bisected by a five-lane asphalt wasteland, into the vibrant, brick-lined public plaza that today is the centerpiece of a thriving community of cuisine, culture and commerce."💥❤🎈

Each year, Market Square Day is the result of all the hard work of @pro_portsmouth and many others in the community. Thank you!

E 1716.

And finally, thank you all who donated this week to the Armsden Project campaign on @nhgives. We reached over 80% of our fundraising goal to purchase archival supplies for the Armsden photograph collection. We need more balloons! Here`s even more good news. The website will stay active until midnight tonight. We need $415 more, and you can carry us over the top! Helium-free.🎈 Link in bio.

#MarketSquareDay #ephemera #nhgives #collectpreserveshare📖 #localhistory #PortsmouthNH #nh #Maine #Seacoast❤

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