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Robinson History Added to Portsmouth Herald

J Dennis Robinson History Matters column logo (c), art by Reggie Logan

Two roads diverged in a wood, and for a change of pace, we have taken the one most traveled. Those looking for long detailed essays on local history in the NH Gazette may come up short these days. The independent fortnightly has taken the toad less traveled. And for that we salute them. If you’re looking for the rest of us… read on.




A Message to Loyal Seacoast History Readers

READ: First article "Black Heroes, White Writers"   

We’ve been hearing from many readers who were concerned that the NH Gazette ("The Nation’s Oldest Newspaper" ™) is no longer running my history column. Have no fear. The column has not ended. It has merely found a new home. History Matters will now appear every other Monday on the front page of the Portsmouth Herald.

This isn’t the first time the column has migrated. It began almost a decade ago in Foster’s Sunday Citizen. It enjoyed a long run there until editor Steven Fowle asked me to join the Gazette. Steve’s decision to shrink the independent free weekly to half-size is best explained on the Gazette web site and in a recent article by Patrick Law in the Seacoast arts and entertainment weekly, The Wire. The editor’s sudden decision to "throw some features overboard" was his and his alone. My thanks to Herald publisher John Tabor and executive editor Howard Altschiller for pulling me aboard their sturdy vessel. Now and then it’s fun to travel on a ship that isn’t propelled by paddles or caulked with chewing gum. But my lifelong love of small independent and alternative publications still runs deep.

From beginning to end, you will always find my history essays here on About 100 of them are now indexed under the title As I Please where they will remain. Others are scattered throughout the many other history sections on the web site. Google is usually your best guide.

And if you have questions, feel free to write. I spend an hour or two every day answering reader mail and post many of them on this site under the Read Our Mail section. Sorry, I can’t spend months doing your family genealogy, but if you have some exciting new facts about the past – let’s talk. I am, even now, working to complete two exciting essays in which readers of "History Matters" did the heavy lifting and sent me their research that I plan to release in future columns.

Currently a lot of the old articles are still on the "old" html version of the web site. There are thousands of those old pages and I have been slow to "migrate" them to the new open source version of It is a slow mind-numbing process. So I apologize to readers who, now and then, will find an out-of-date version of an article floating around in cyperspace. Trust me, I’m working on it.

Having written over a thousand articles about the Seacoast over the last three or four decades, I find myself as fascinated by this region as ever. My enthusiasm is high, and I make up with practiced efficiency for I’ve lost in youthful energy. I spent the last week sorting through hundreds of manila folders filled with notes and ideas for future articles about the history of the Piscataqua region. It can take months, even years, to track down details for these essays, but I’m still plugging – and thankfully – you’re still reading.

So again, take heart. The journey is far from over. It is a big ocean, and now and then you have to change boats.

Historically Yours,

J. Dennis Robinson

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