Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum

Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum

904 Elm Ave., Portsmouth, VA 23704 - United States



Free Everyday

The Portsmouth Colored Community Library Museum is housed in the preserved building that served as the library available to African Americans in Portsmouth, Virginia, from its construction in 1945 until the city's library system was integrated in 1963. Visit this small building with a big story to tell about the era of segregation in mid-20th century Portsmouth, and access to library services for black and white patrons. Exhibits are placed among the original shelving units, and describe the library's establishment, its staff and services, and the large impact it had on the black community in post-war Portsmouth.


In addition to our permanent exhibit about how the Community Library was founded and operated over an 18-year period, also see our temporary exhibit, "A Stead Cycle of Lively Events: The African American Social Scene in Postwar Portsmouth." See distinctive period images and artifacts that chronicle the clubs, activities, and social events that African American availed themselves of in this era of segregation.

Meet members of Portsmouth's African American Historical Society, who were integral to rescuing the building from demolition, and hear about their special projects in preserving local history in Portsmouth. Members of the Historical Society will be inside the museum gallery from 10am - 2pm.


Participation in Museum Day is open to any tax-exempt or governmental museum or cultural venue on a voluntary basis. Smithsonian magazine encourages museum visitation, but is not responsible for and does not endorse the content of the participating museums and cultural venues, and does not subsidize museums that participate.