Black Portsmouth: Lessons on Colonial Life, Abolition & the Civil War, and the Civil Rights Movement (1700 to the 1960s)
The following five lessons introduce local seacoast history that highlights the experience of Black people and stimulates discussion about their contributions to the making of Portsmouth today.
Please send an e-mail to JerriAnne Boggis, Director of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, if you download the PDF of this curriculum. It would also be helpful if you would share any comments on the curriculum, how it works in your class or changes you made. This information will be helpful as we develop more lessons.
Thank you for your interest!
Here is a link to download a PDF of the curriculum for:
Partners & Resources
This is a database of persons. It records the names and lives of African and Black American individuals and families. For some, our record is only a single name or an enslaver’s name. About others, we may know many demographic details.
A number of “details” may be associated with each person. These can include: geographic locations, employment history, church and civic affiliations, and more. This database allows searching to find people by names, by life events, or by details.
Rock Rest was an inn for African American guests in Kittery Point, Maine. Owned and operated by Clayton and Hazel Sinclair, who gave up their own beds to guests coming to vacation in Maine during the summer months from 1948 to 1976, its story reflects much of the racial history of the 20th century in northern New England, including the pre-Civil Rights era of de facto segregation when racial discrimination pervaded public and private life. It is also the story of a couple’s determination to make a better life for themselves against great odds, by working hard and integrating themselves into the dominant society, yet still speaking out and taking action to end injustice. Clayton and Hazel helped establish the first seacoast branch of the NAACP.
Many in our community have asked how Portsmouth’s African Burying Ground could have been forgotten. During the 1700s when the Burying Ground was actively used, the area that is now Chestnut Street was the undeveloped outskirts of town. Over time, as Portsmouth grew during the late 1700s and throughout the 1800s, the African Burying Ground was paved over and built over and many forgot of its existence. Today, we recognize this important place as the only known African Burying Ground in all of New England that dates to this era.
In 1859, Harriet E. Wilson, an African American woman from Milford, New Hampshire, published a novel with the stated hope of earning sufficient money simply to survive. Instead, her novel, Our Nig; or Sketches From the Life of A Free Black, became a powerful and controversial narrative that continues to touch and unsettle readers around the world.
On November 5, 2006, after 4 years of raising public awareness the Harriet E. Wilson full-size bronze memorial statue was unveiled in Milford, New Hampshire making it the first statue in the state’s history to honor a person of color.
For more on local Black History visit SeacoastNH
Other related Black history sites in New Hampshire and Maine:
Cartland House [private]
Wentworth Cheswell Family Burial Site
South Main St.
Abyssinian Meeting House