The Special Collections room at Portsmouth Public Library offers the researcher information on local history topics and genealogy.
While our collection development efforts focus on acquiring materials relating to the city of Portsmouth, we also acquire information about other towns in Rockingham County, as well as town histories for Strafford County, NH and York County in Maine.
Our collection consists of books, articles, city documents (tax records, annual reports, etc.), city directories, vital records (birth, marriage and death indexes), maps, art work, photographs, historical newspapers and ephemera.
In addition, we have a number of unique collections, including the following:
Henry Clay Barnabee Collection
This collection of 12 boxes consisting of scrapbooks, photographs, albums, books, souvenir albums, souvenir books, opera music scores, watercolors, etc., belonged to the Portsmouth-born actor and singer Henry Clay Barnabee (1833-1917).
World War II Records
This collection of 20 files was compiled by the Portsmouth War Records Committee during the World War II years.
It includes reports (business, club and organizations), photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, posters and pamphlets.
These include a collection of watercolors by Sarah Haven Foster (1827-1900), a collection of drawings by Helen Pearson (1871-1949), several works by Susan Ricker Knox (1875?-1959) and several paintings by Russell Cheney (1881-1945), among other artists whose works are owned by the library.
We also have some online exhibits:
North End House History Project
This collection of images comes from Portsmouth’s North End, circa 1967. It is the area bordered by Market, High, Congress, Bridge, Maplewood, and Russell Street. This area was re-developed during the 1960’s as part of a Federally funded Urban Renewal movement that followed World War II. Primarily an Italian neighborhood, approximately 176 inhabited homes and active businesses were documented prior to removal.
In a ddition, for images of residents and families from this area of the City, follow this link http://bit.ly/PXgpyg to the "North End Neighborhood" Collection at the Portsmouth Athenaeum. Created in collaboration with members from the Seacoast Chapter of the Sons of Italy. For questions, or more information, about the Portsmouth Athenaeum Collection: http://bit.ly/P8rAoQ.
Haven School Neighborhood Project
This project is currently being worked on by a group of volunteers from the Haven School Neighborhood. They are actively seeking images and memories to be included in the project.
Ultimately, a database of photographs and personal stories of the Haven School Neighborhood will be included in this space. The database will be created from photographs and stories contributed by the people who actually lived there. The database will be dynamic, in that the computer program being used allows for comments--print and voice-- to be added as the project grows.
is a genealogy resource, including full text of historic
texts and genealogies, Census, revolutionary War records, Persi, etc.
Ancestry Library Edition
is a genealogical database, including access to Census records,
Social Security death index, Immigration records, Military, etc. Covers the U.S., Canada, and Europe.
New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) is a Boston research library for genealogists and family historians and home to 12 million+ original documents. Much of the collection is digitized and searchable by subscription only. Includes full access to the 162+ volume NEHGS Register!
FamilySearch.org is a free genalogy website providing access to a large collection of genealogy resources from over 100 countries. Search over a billion names and images online.
Nicole Cloutier is the Special Collections Librarian, and will assist anyone who wishes to use the Special Collection for research, during her regularly scheduled hours.
The Reference Department will assist patrons in her absence.
City Historian, Richard Winslow, provides research assistance to the public on Tuesdays from 9:00 to 5:00.
Address: 175 Parrott Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801
Phone: 603-427-1540 or Call the Reference Desk at: 603-766-1720/1721