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African American History Forum

New Hampshire Black History

New Hamps Black Hist

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - Valerie Cunningham's tired eyes trudged for hours across page after page of old records extracted from a closet at Saint John's Episcopal Church one day in the 1960s.

Amid an endless procession of marriages, births, baptisms, deaths, and finances, a December 1807 entry leaped off the parchment: "To Venus - a Black - $1."

It was the first record Cunningham found indicating there was a community of black people in Portsmouth at the time. "Nobody ever talked about black people in Colonial Portsmouth," she said.

Shining a light on NH's black history
"Without memory, there is no history, so Valerie Cunningham has labored for four decades to preserve the remembrance of African-American life stories and historic sites in the Seacoast region," said David Watters, director of the UNH .


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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