Featured Collections

North End Neighborhood Collection (P0045)

This collection includes many family photos from former residents of the old North End of Portsmouth, NH.  By the early 20th century, the North End had become a true American melting pot, with a richly diverse population, and while predominately Italian, the neighborhood included Yankee-born, Greek, Polish, Chinese, Swedish and African-American families. The area was demolished during urban renewal (c.1968-c.1973).

The majority of images in the collection are digital copy scans of family photos, which were donated by the family descendants. If you have photographs to contribute contact our Photographic Collections Manager James Smith at (603) 431-2538 or e-mail The Athenaeum can scan your family pictures and return the originals to you.

Portsmouth Historic District Survey, 1982-1983 (P0064)

The Portsmouth Advocates — a nonprofit founded in 1980 to promote the preservation of the historical and architectural heritage of Portsmouth — began taking photos of historically significant buildings around the city in 1982. This collection includes both the photographic prints and most accompanying negatives for buildings in the compact area of Portsmouth. The Advocates report for each property is available as a pdf at the bottom of each record.

South End Urban Redevelopment Project, 1955 (P0010)

This collection includes the photographs from the Portsmouth Housing Authority Appraisal Report for an area of the South End of Portsmouth, NH, mostly covering what is now known today as Strawbery Banke Museum. Final report dated September 28, 1955.

Images were scanned in order from the original report found in the MS080 Portsmouth Housing Authority manuscript collection.

Portsmouth Athenaeum, c. 1885

Davis Brothers cabinet card of the Portsmouth Athenaeum, Market Square, Portsmouth, NH.

PS0019, Small Photograph Collection

Old North Church, 1854

Daguerreotype of the old North Church right before it was razed in 1854.  The current North Church was then constructed on that site in Market Square, Portsmouth, NH.

P0016_001, North Church Photograph Collection

Frank Jones Mansion Parlor, c. 1875

In 1866, brewing magnate Frank Jones purchased a c.1830 house and extensively renovated it into a lavish and opulent showplace (as seen in the photograph). Jones also bought adjoining land, raising the size of his property to 400 acres, much of which he used for stabling and pasturing his race horses. The estate was known as Maplewood Farms, and the mansion house still stands at the intersection of Maplewood and Woodbury avenues in Portsmouth, NH.

PS2717_02, Small Photograph Collection

Market Square, c. 1904

Glass plate negative of the buildings along Pleasant Street and Market Square, Portsmouth, NH.

P0036_171, William Mather Lamson Collection

Cobbs' Radio & Television Store, c. 1955

Between 1947-1950, Thomas P. Cobbs opened Cobbs’ Radio & Television Service at 149-151 Deer Street at the corner of Depot Avenue. Cobbs was also the president for the Portsmouth Chapter of the NAACP. He and his wife Gretchen also lived at this address until urban renewal forced them out in 1968.

Seen behind Cobbs is the Boston & Maine passenger station and restaurant.

P15.077, Armsden Photograph Collection

Ocean Boulevard Stroll, c. 1897

Victorian view of Hampton Beach with Great Boar’s Head in the distance, Hampton, NH.

PS1206_059, Small Photograph Collection

Market Square Arch, 1900

The “Union Is Strength” arch at the entrance to Daniel Street, Market Square, Portsmouth, NH.

P0001_0001, Thomas C. Wilson Photograph Collection

Treaty of Portsmouth Stagecoach, 1905

A Perry Conner photograph shows the United States Navy personnel traveling to or from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard during the negotiation of the Treaty of Portsmouth. The peace treaty was signed at the Shipyard on Sept. 5, 1905, ending the Russo-Japanese War.

P0001_0217, Thomas C. Wilson Photograph Collection

Portsmouth Waterfront, 1924

Walter C. Staples photograph from the Memorial Bridge toward Portsmouth and the waterfront. The long wharves to the left of the bridge tower are now Prescott Park.

P0001_1501, Thomas C. Wilson Photograph Collection

The Athenaeum’s Photographic Collection contains over 34,000 historic images that date from the 1850s through today.  These images include prints, daguerreotypes, cabinet cards, glass-plate negatives, stereocards, Polaroids, and slides.  Each of these images tells a story of Portsmouth and its environs, people, and culture.  Popular subjects include the Isles of Shoals, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the 1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty, Market Square, the North End, Wentworth-By-The-Sea, and the Memorial Bridge.  In addition to the Athenaeum’s collection, there are deposit collections such as the South Church, North Church, Star Island Corporation, and the Portsmouth Historical Society. Most of these images have been digitized and are found in our online search catalog.

As part of the archives, the photograph collection is stored in a climate-controlled vault.

Fee Schedule

As a private, non-profit library the Portsmouth Athenaeum relies on the financial support of our membership, as well as those who utilize our collection.

The fees assessed for photograph reproduction and use fund the administration, care, preservation, and processing of the photographs in our collection. A great deal of staff time and supplies are required for our collections to be made accessible for research and preserved for future generations.

Research Assistance

Research assistance conducted by staff is free of charge for the first 15 minutes. Additional time is charged at $35 per hour. The research fee is in addition to any reproduction fees.

Please note, on-site research requests take precedence, and remote requests (via e-mail or phone) will be handled as time and staffing allow.


  • Athenaeum Proprietors, Subscribers and Friends: $.10 per page
  • All others $.25 per page

Display: lecture, presentation, performance, exhibit, signs, etc.

  • Proprietors, Subscribers & Non-Profits: First image, gratis Up to 5 Images: $20 Additional, $5 each
  • Personal use (researchers, individuals, etc.): $10 per image

  • Commercial: $25 per image

Advertising & Non-Editorial Use: Unbound materials, postcards, posters, brochures, calendars, etc.

  • Proprietors, Subscribers & Non-Profits: First image $10, Additional $5 each
  • Personal or Commercial Use: First image $25, Additional $10 each
  • Commercial: $25 per image

Print media for sale: books (per print run), periodicals, clothing, calendars, CD, DVD, etc.

  • Proprietors, Subscribers & Non-Profits: Up to 5 images $20, Additional $5 each
  • Commercial: First image $25 per image, $100 Cover use

Website: 75 dpi only includes watermark and link to

  • Proprietors, Subscribers & Non-Profits: $10 per image, per year
  • Personal use (researchers, individuals, etc.): $10 per image, per year

Film / Video Broadcast TV program, commercial studio release, news magazine, YouTube, etc. Inquire about World Rights

  • Proprietors, Subscribers & Non-Profits: $5 per image
  • Personal or Commercial use: please inquire

Additional Fees: CD Rescanning or new scan

  • $2 per item/page

Payment is by check or cash only. If additional research is required, the first 15 minutes are free, after which our standard fee of $35/hr. will be assessed.

Active Projects

Armsden Photographic Project

In 2018, the Athenaeum received the photographic collection of prolific photographer Douglas J. Armsden (1918-2009). This collection of mainly mid-20th century images of Portsmouth will nearly double the Athenaeum’s entire photograph collection. Find out how you can help preserve this important collection.

Do you have images related to Portsmouth and the Piscataqua Region that you would like to donate? Please contact us today!

12 + 5 =

More to explore at PPL

North End House History

Click the image to visit the North End House History digitized collection at the Portsmouth Public Library (PPL).  This collection includes the photographs and appraisal reports of approximately 176 inhabited homes in the North End neighborhood from the Vaughan Street Urban Renewal Project. Nearly all of these homes were demolished.