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Love Letters of Dorothy Vaughan

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HISTORY MATTERS

For the last half century she was the "little old lady" of Portsmouth history. Bright, formal, sometimes formidable, Dorothy Vaughan helped launch a preservation revolution that shaped a city. Now her private letters revela a loving and lively librarian

 

 

Portsmouth Librarian's Secret Suitors

I’m confused. If former Portsmouth librarian Dorothy Vaughan didn’t want us to read her love letters, then why did she give them to the NH Historical Society?

dvl02.jpgVaughan, who died just shy of her 100th birthday in 2004, was a powerful, sometimes controversial Portsmouth figure. An early founder and first president of Strawbery Banke Museum, Vaughan worked at the Portsmouth Public Library for half a century, where she came to dominate the dissemination of information in an era before the Internet.

An obsessive collector of all things Portsmouth, Vaughan professed to be writing a book about local history. Her home and garage on Summer Street were packed with books, prints, pamphlets, paintings, and institutional records. Very few visitors ever got more than a glimpse through the front door during the last decades of her life. Although she received an advance payment to write her long-promised book, it was never completed.

"Many of these things were stacked near the desks or chairs from which she worked," one friend recalls. "Others were segregated by subject and kept together in paper bags or envelopes. There were narrow pathways between these piles."

 

CONTINUED

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