Discover Portsmouth Exhibits, Programs & Events

Seacoast Sculpture Exhibition Lecture Series!

Doors open at 5pm prior to each lecture with galleries open during the evening. All lectures are at 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH
$10 Members, $20 Non-Members. For information, call 603-436-8433
Register Online
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John Paul Jones Jubilee 2017

John Paul Jones Jubilee 2017 September 7

& Silent Auction –
A Party & Fundraiser for the John Paul Jones House

Save the Date!
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Discover Portsmouth
10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH

Fabulous Auction Items • Live Music brought to you by Dry Martini • Our signature Centennial Ale courtesy of Liar’s Bench Brewing • Delicious Appetizers provided by our renowned area restaurants.

The smooth sounds of live jazz by Dry Martini, a fine wine raffle, and more than 75 stellar auction items that will sweep you off your feet with everything from fine art, to dine around town packages, getaways and experiences, jewelry and two nights out on the Isles of Shoals.

All proceeds to benefit Portsmouth Historical Society.
Members $25, Non-Members $35

Register Now

or call 603-436-8433
Event generously sponsored by:
Newburyport 5 Cent Savings Bank

New Book Reveals Lost African Lives in Maine

Lives of Consequence Cover

Lives of Consequence: Blacks in Early Kittery and Berwick in the Massachusetts Province of Maine

By Patricia Q. Wall

Portsmouth Marine Society Press, 2017
**Public Book Signing: Friday August 4 5-8pm at Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH**

Buy Online Now

You might say Pat Wall’s groundbreaking new study of lost African American lives was divinely inspired. She was seated in the First Congregational Church at Kittery Point, the oldest continuously used church in Maine. Looking up at the empty white walls she imagined the segregated side galleries, now removed, once filled with faces of enslaved and freed black church members. Were there really “just a few slaves” in Kittery as the town histories claimed?

“I suddenly wanted to know who these people were. What were their lives like?” says author Patricia Q. Wall.” I decided to stop musing and find some answers.”

Five years later, Lives of Consequence, published this month by the Portsmouth Historical Society’s Portsmouth Marine Society Press, is a shockingly expansive and revealing new book. Wall’s painstaking research has uncovered, not just a few, but hundreds of forgotten African and mixed race residents. Her work focuses on the large colonial parish of “Old Kittery,” just across the New Hampshire border. The 18-mile wide seacoast parish now includes the picturesque towns of Eliot, Berwick, and South Berwick, Maine. Until 1820 this territory was part of Massachusetts.

“We have been too long in denial,” Wall says. “Many 19th century historians, often white and biased men, created the myth that slavery was only a southern thing. Sadly, that myth continues today. It is still taught in too many American schools, avoiding the truth about New England’s involvement in slavery.”

The truth, Wall quickly learned, has been hiding deep below the surface. While the arrival of slaves in Massachusetts began as early as 1637 under Puritan Gov. John Winthrop, the practice slowly infected the territory of Maine to the north. The cause, initially, was economic. New England needed workers for early farms, fisheries, and sawmills. Indentured European workers could earn back their freedom over a period of years. But 20 permanently enslaved Africans, according to a contemporary report, could be maintained for the price of a single indentured white servant.
Records of black residents are spotty, when records exist at all. Pat Wall was forced to comb through countess wills, letters, estate inventories, court and church records. She uncovered evidence of as many as 500 forgotten persons living in the Parish of Kittery from its settlement through the American Revolution.

The author names names. Lives of Consequence identifies 186 white slave owners plus another 57 local people possibly involved in the odious trade. Colonial slave owners included prominent families named Pepperrell, Chadbourne, Whipple, Cutts, Gerrish, Frost, and Sparhawk. Stripped of their African identities, the names of black laborers and servants (often a euphemism for “slaves”) were difficult to trace. Single names like Phyllis, Libby, Cato, Mingo, Caesar, and Pompey flicker through the public record and private correspondence. More often the reference is simply to a “mulatto woman” or an anonymous “negro man.” The birth of only a single enslaved child appeared in the official Kittery records.

For all its scholarly content, the first half of Lives of Consequence is supremely readable. The author of two black history novels for children, Pat Wall combines the flowing narrative skills of fiction into a powerful narrative history. The second half is an extraordinary sourcebook listing hundreds of African, mulatto, and Indian lives culled from Wall’s research. Most appear only as “one-liners,” mentioned once, only to disappear into the mists of history. More than 40 percent of the “invisible people” identified have no names at all, having been reduced to an anonymous “runaway” or “negro.”

Two characters stand out. Mollie Miles, who was enslaved by the Kittery family of Sir William Pepperrell was interviewed by a reporter in a life that spanned 108 years. William Black, often listed as “Black Will,” managed to obtain his freedom, earn income, buy property, raise a family, and live as a farmer among his predominantly white neighbors.

“Black history,” historian Valerie Cunningham points out in her introduction to Wall’s book, “is American history worth knowing and exploring.”

Edited by Gerald R. Ward and published by the Portsmouth Marine Society Press, Lives of Consequence will be available at Discover Portsmouth and other bookstores beginning Friday, July 28, 2017. A public book signing will take place Friday August 4, 2017 from 5-8pm at Discover Portsmouth as part of Art ‘Round Town.

Patricia Q. Wall, author of Lives of Consequence

About the author

For the past 48 years, Patricia Quigley Wall has been involved with New England’s colonial history through professional museum work, research, teaching, and writing. More recently, after meeting Valerie Cunningham and learning of her ground-breaking research on Black history in early Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Mrs. Wall wrote an historical novel, Child Out of Place (Fall Rose Books, 2004, for ages 10 and up), based on a fictional, early 19th-century Black family in that locale. Six years later, its sequel, Beyond Freedom (Fall Rose Books, 2010), followed that family into Boston’s 1812 Black community on Beacon Hill. Both books were based on meticulous research. Since 2004, Mrs. Wall has visited with more than 11,000 school children throughout New England, given numerous lectures and teachers’ seminars—all in an effort to awaken greater awareness of the importance of this region’s early African American history. Born in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, Mrs. Wall grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Germantown and is a graduate of Temple University (BA ’53) and Pennsylvania State University (MS ’64). For sixteen years, Mrs. Wall was associated with the Darien Historical Society, Darien, Connecticut, as a board member and then as executive director. After moving to Kittery Point, Maine, in 1986, she worked at Strawbery Banke Museum for several years before retiring to become a volunteer docent and board member of the Warner House Museum. For five years she also served as events coordinator for the Portsmouth Historic Sites Association, a small group of house museums and historical sites in Portsmouth. She now lives in Exeter, New Hampshire.

Read More about Lives of Consequence

About Portsmouth Marine Society Press

The original Portsmouth Marine Society was chartered in 1808 as an organization of ship captains, officers, and owners who shared navigational and business information about domestic and foreign ports and provided some benefits to the families of members lost at sea. Today it is the publishing division of Portsmouth Historical Society and has published 37 titles. Topics range from Prescott Park, embroidery samplers, archaeology, Tobias Lear, and the Treaty of Portsmouth. Nowhere else can a reader find as much information about Portsmouth’s naval shipyard, submarines, Piscataqua-built sailing ships, tugboats, lighthouses, privateers, whaling, and maritime Portsmouth. For more information, contact 603-436-8433.


This book is made possible by the support of our members and the following sponsors: Stephanie T. Seacord; Peter Lamb and Faith Harrington through Julia’s Fund of the Maine Community Foundation; The David and Kathleen Rushford Murray Charitable Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; Eliot Historical Society; Kittery Historical & Naval Museum; Old Berwick Historical Society; Shapleigh Family Association.

Special Free Family Workshops for Kids

Free workshops for kids at: Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth NH.

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Seacoast Sculpture from Material to Masterwork

Seacoast Sculpture

Featuring the work of Sumner Winebaum, Jane Kaufmann and Michael Stasiuk

With Sublime Mud! New Hampshire Potters Guild Biennial Show

Friday, July 7 – Sunday, October 1, 2017

Organized by Allison Galliher, Lainey McCartney and Adam Brooks, with The New Hampshire Potters Guild

Master Sculptors Winebaum, Stasiuk, Kaufmann

Master Sculptors (l to r): Sumner Winebaum, Michael Stasiuk, Jane Kaufmann. Raya Al-Hashmi photo.

Discover Portsmouth Highlights Three Master Sculptors

Metal, ceramics, wood — three renowned seacoast sculptors working in three materials are the focus of the latest groundbreaking exhibition at Discover Portsmouth. “Seacoast Sculpture from Material to Masterwork” (July 7- October 1) unites the career work of master artists Sumner Winebaum, Jane Kaufmann, and Michael Stasiuk in the historic Academy Gallery at 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth. A companion show in the Balcony Gallery—“Sublime Mud!”–features work by over two dozen members of the NH Potters Guild. A lecture series accompanies the dual exhibitions, plus special free Saturday morning sculptural workshops for kids and a bonus meet-the-artist Sunday event. [Read more…]

Home is where the very hot hearth is.

Check out this short video on the Green Foundry, produced and exhibited as part of Seacoast Sculpture – Material to Masterwork.

Meet Josh and Lauren Dow of the Green Foundry who have cast the works of many artists, including Sumner Winebaum. [Read more…]

“Think about it!” — Sumner Winebaum

Check out this short video on Sumner Winebaum, produced and exhibited as part of Seacoast Sculpture – Material to Masterwork.

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“Mr. Potato Head” – Michael Stasiuk

Check out this short video on Michael Stasiuk, produced and exhibited as part of Seacoast Sculpture – Material to Masterwork.

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“Trouble as a child” – Jane Kaufmann

Check out this short video on Jane Kaufmann, produced and exhibited as part of Seacoast Sculpture – Material to Masterwork.

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2017 Walking Tours of Historic Portsmouth, NH

Walking tour Sandy WalentMay Through October

“Portsmouth and its pleasures are smaller scale. They’re also best approached on foot.” –New York Times.

Portsmouth is the hub of the New Hampshire Seacoast. Its downtown streets are reminiscent of a small English market village. Portsmouth’s unique, historical character can be fully captured on foot. If you’re visiting Portsmouth for a meal, an afternoon or a weekend consider taking a Discover Portsmouth walking tour!

Portsmouth Historical Society presents 2017 Tour Offerings

Reservations strongly encouraged. Walk-ins welcome. Member discounts apply.

All tours leave from Discover Portsmouth, 10 Middle Street, Portsmouth NH [Read more…]