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  • Discover the latest news from the Portsmouth Athenaeum

    DISCLAIMER: The following content was not created by, but is being shared by, the Chamber Collaborative on behalf of a member.

    The Shaw Research Library and Randall Gallery are now open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. by appointment only.

     Please call 603-431-2538 or email info@portsmouthathenaeum.org
    to set up your appointment.


    Elizabeth Ann Virgil

    Last week on social media, we featured the story of Elizabeth Ann Virgil (1903-1991) who in 1926 was the first Black person to graduate with a four-year degree from the University of New Hampshire. She received her BA in home economics. Pictured is Elizabeth (right) with her sister Melvina Parker (1906-1984) in the back yard of what is believed her mother's house at 311 Court Street in Portsmouth, c. 1935.

    Upon graduation from UNH, Elizabeth wanted to teach. According to Black Portsmouth by Valerie Cunningham & Mark J. Sammons, Miss Virgil could not find work as a teacher in NH due to social conventions, so she went south to teach.

    You can read the entire post on our Social Feed. Click on the button below.  
    NOTE: On Fridays in February, the National Archives and other institutions such as the Portsmouth Athenaeum are focusing on Black education in their collections using #ArchivesBlackEducation.

    Image: Elizabeth Ann Virgil Collection, PS2185.13.


    That's Amore: Italian weddings in Portsmouth's North End, preserving the history

    In last Sunday's Portsmouth Herald, Proprietor Sherry Wood went for a romantic stroll into the Athenaeum archives, highlighting the love shared among the Italian families who once called the North End home.

    Above is a photograph of the wedding party for Rose Succi who married Walter Gobbi on June 10, 1939. The group is posing in front of the Succi/Pirini family home at 114 Green Street where the reception included 75 guests. Thirty years later, the house and nearly all of the North End was demolished during urban renewal.

    You can read Sherry's article on seacoastonline.com by clicking the button below; however, starting this month, you must have a subscription to access the article.

    Image: Courtesy of Michael Gobbi, North End Neighborhood Collection, P45_425.

    We also learn that Sherry's article has made it's way to Italy on a Facebook page dedicated to descendants from Santarcangelo, Italy. Michael Pesaresi translated the article into Italian and also directed the group to visit our North End collection. Below is a screenshot.


    Market Street, c. 1960

    As we approach the season of frost heaves, we shared on social media this photograph of what some may consider a historic pothole. This "temporary break in the modern surface" revealed the "ancient stones" of early cobblestones at the intersection of Bow and Market streets. You'll also notice the two-way traffic on Market Street.

    The photograph comes from "Portsmouth, New Hampshire: The Role of the Provincial Capital in the Development" a dissertation by Howard T. Oedel, 1960, which is found in our Rare Book collection. Oedel is also an Athenaeum Proprietor.
    You can read the full post on our Social Feed page by clicking the button below.

    Image: Howard T. Oedel Dissertation, P0067_062 & Rare Book 37612
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