Digitizing the Portsmouth School Department Records

Thaxter Grant awarded to process material
by Susan Kindstedt, Portsmouth Athenaeum Archivist

The Portsmouth Athenaeum is excited to announce a collaborative project with the Portsmouth Public Library and New England Historic Genealogical Society. Beginning in January of 2020 the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), the largest and oldest genealogical society in the country, will begin the project of scanning, indexing and making available online the historic records of the Portsmouth School Department. The Athenaeum has housed the records since 1991 when the Portsmouth School Department placed them on deposit for safe keeping.

Following scanning the records at their headquarters in Boston, NEHGS will facilitate volunteers to index the scanned volumes ultimately making the records available on NEHGS’s digital database, American Ancestors. The Athenaeum and the Public Library will maintain subscriptions to the database so that researchers will have free access to the records. The Athenaeum will also hold a digital copy of the records.

As part of the project, the Athenaeum will work with the Portsmouth Public Library to preserve and safely house the original records following scanning by NEHGS. A generous grant from the Thaxter Foundation, awarded jointly to the Athenaeum and the Public Library, will fund the necessary archival supplies to folder and box the records of both the Portsmouth School Department and the Portsmouth Police Department (which are also on deposit at the Athenaeum).

The Portsmouth School Department records date from 1846 to 1935 and consists of 122 volumes. Of particular historic significance are the school attendance records that provide valuable genealogical information including each student’s name, birth date, guardian name and address. In addition to the genealogical data, records from this collection contain details about hiring teachers and curriculum.

Schools include Peabody, Cabot, Franklin, Manning, Spalding, Walker, High Street (Farragut), Lafayette, Jones, Bartlett, Hanover and Haven.

The Athenauem will be recruiting volunteers to work with NEHGS for the indexing portion of the project. Training will be provided and indexing can be done remotely from the comfort of your own home. For more information please contact Portsmouth Athenaeum archivist, Susan Kindstedt at skindstedt@portsmouthathenaeum.org.

Portsmouth School "Enrolment" List

The collection includes vital records for researchers and genealogists alike.


School Registers

The Portsmouth School Registers range from the 1880s to the 1930s.


High Street School Record

Example of the High Street school (the Farragut) in the North End of Portsmouth with the names of the Eighth Grade class in 1891.

State Street School Record

Example of the State Street school (the Peabody School) with the names of the Ninth Grade class in 1890.

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