A History of Portsmouth NH in 101 Objects, Coming December 2022!

July 13, 2022

Portsmouth Public Library is thrilled to have collaborated on a new book in honor of Portsmouth's 400th anniversary: A History of Portsmouth NH in 101 Objects.

This keepsake, 224-page, softbound book - with 101 color photographs of objects whose stories are important to Portsmouth - will be available in December 2022. The library will have copies of the book to view and check out. Order your own copy now through RiverRun Bookstore for a special pre-publication discount of $25! (In advance of the anticipated cover price of $29.99). 

The volume gives readers a sense of “who we are” and “where we are” as Portsmouth continues its journey from before 1623 to beyond 2023. Each object is depicted with a full-page photograph accompanied by an essay by a local author – 80 different writers who are the historians, experts, participants and those observers of Portsmouth history best able to explain how each object’s story offers a path into the city’s bigger 400+ year history. 

The idea of using "101 objects" to tell Portsmouth’s story, as America’s Smithsonian museums did using objects in their collections, intrigued the city’s historical institutions - Strawbery Banke Museum, Portsmouth Athenaeum, Portsmouth Historical Society and Portsmouth Public Library. The Editorial Board, comprised of the directors of those organizations, asked a variety of people and institutions (and their own curators) to nominate the list of 101 objects from Portsmouth’s wide and diverse past.

Over the past six months, the project team has assembled photographs of the objects and invited local authors to write about those objects for the book and website. Features include:

  • The original 1923 City of the Open Door brochure and essay by Mayor Deaglan McEachern
  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and its submarines by D. Allan Kerr
  • The Goodwin Soldiers & Sailors Memorial by Mike Pride
  • Gilley’s hot dog by Rachel Forrest and The Blue Strawbery Restaurant by Chef James Haller
  • The African Burying Ground Memorial by Valerie Cunningham
  • The Piscataqua watershed by Jeffrey Bolster and Piscataqua gundalow by Molly Bolster
  • The Piscataqua region before settlement by Native American Studies professor Lisa Brooks

A History of Portsmouth NH in 101 Objects book and website are intended as a record of what this community values in 2023 on the 400th anniversary of Portsmouth’s settlement, a resource for historians and future generations, and an illuminating tour of the City’s past for the general reader.

The Editorial Board for the project includes Steve Butzel and Nicole Cloutier, City of Portsmouth Public Library; Tom Hardiman, Portsmouth Athenaeum; Gerald Ward, Portsmouth Historical Society; and Lawrence J. Yerdon, Strawbery Banke Museum. The Project Manager is Stephanie Seacord.

For more information, visit 101objectsportsmouthnh.org.

A History of Portsmouth Book Cover

Image: cover of A History of Portsmouth NH in 101 Objects

photo credit: Debbra Obertanne

History of Portsmouth book