Since 1920, New Hampshire has hosted the first presidential primary in the nation. As a small state with a long tradition of political engagement, New Hampshire has an extraordinarily successful record picking the primary candidates who ultimately win their respective party’s nominations and have gone on to win the presidency. As former Governor John H. Sununu once famously said, “The people of Iowa pick corn; the people of New Hampshire pick presidents.” Since 1952, when candidates’ names appeared on the ballot for the first time, New Hampshire voters have picked nine Republican winners and five Democratic winners who went on to become President. New Hampshire voters got it right 14 times in 18 elections!

This exhibit will cover the history of the Granite State’s primaries for 100 years, featuring the memorabilia from many personal collections and photographs of local photographers Jim Cole, Renee Giffroy, Roger Goun, Meryl Levin, and Michael Sterling. Film and music producer Dennis Kleinman of “Reading Rainbow” fame has created a video montage of presidential campaign songs throughout the years. An extensive collection of election posters, photographs, campaign buttons and swag, and other political memorabilia will be on display.

From February 16th through June 29th, the free exhibit is open the Randall Gallery from Tuesday – Saturday between 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

During the opening of “First in the Nation: New Hampshire Presidential Primaries – 1920 to 2020” exhibit on Friday, February 16th, please join us for retired Associated Press photographer Jim Cole discussing photographs of New Hampshire’s Presidential Primaries since 1980 at 5 p.m.

Exhibit At A Glance


Friday, February 16, 2024

4 – 7 p.m.

Randall Gallery, Third Floor, Portsmouth Athenaeum


Friday, February 16, 2024,

5 p.m.


Extended into November 2024!

(TOP PHOTO) Sen. John F. Kennedy campaigning in Portsmouth in 1960. P0001_1158.