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Esther M. Wilson Memorial Local History Room


The “Local History” room was founded in 1963 when Mrs. Mary J McMurran convinced Judge Benjamin Dey White to donate his library for a designated room of non-circulating history collection.  The Naval Shipyard also has a small library of local interest, although their emphasis is on the history of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard (formerly Gosport Yard) and its effect on the City of Portsmouth.


The room is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Portsmouth and its people, and making such information available to interested researchers. See an indication of our collection. The Portsmouth of Today includes eight annexations of surrounding areas from Norfolk County.
Therefore our special emphasis includes many materials about the county and surrounding areas southeastern Virginia. The room hosts over 2,000 visitors yearly mostly from close by, but many came from as far as Wales. is available within all branches, special assistance is available within the room. For more information, visit and visit the Library Special Edition Page.

Call Before You Visit

Please call before traveling to the library to ascertain that someone will be on hand to assist you.  Other than the scheduled open hours the room is accessible by appointment only.  Please call 757-393-8501 for an appointment.
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