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Portuguese-American Genealogy

A guide on some resources for those interested in Portuguese-American genealogy.

Portuguese-American Newspapers and Genealogy

Until the advent of Portuguese radio programs, Portuguese-language newspapers were the sole source of news for those not familiar with English.  Through them, Portuguese-Americans were informed not only about what was going on in their local community, but also about developments back in Portugal as well as in U.S. and the world at large. By reading these papers, members of the various Portuguese communities maintained their language and cultural traditions, shared in the experience of their compatriots living in other areas of the country and became aware of their common characteristics and needs. 

There are several notes that need to be taken into consideration by those who will try to search out information in Portuguese language newspapers:

  • While there is certain standardization of the type of information that is listed within birth, marriage and obituaries in English language newspapers throughout North America, this is not true for Portuguese language newspapers. 
  • Wives are rarely referred to via their husband’s first and last name (i.e. Sra. Francisco Sousa); they retain their first names, and depending on the time period, may also retain their own last names.
  • Generally, these types of announcements are not found, consistently, within one specific page or section of the newspaper.
  • A newspaper published in one location, may have listed information, and announcements, that occurred in other Portuguese-American communities throughout the United States where it had correspondents.
  • As with events published in English language media, there is normally a delay between the actual date of the event, and when it gets published in the newspaper.  It is not uncommon to find up to a two-month delay in news that was relayed from California and published in New England newspapers, especially in the early 20th century.

With that in mind we have created some examples for you to help aid in your search. 

  • See our section on Birth Information for an example of how this information might be found. 
  • See our section on Marriage Information for an example of how this information might be found. 
  • See our section on Death Information for an example of how this information might be found. 
  • See our section on Other Interesting Information for examples of other types of information available in the newspapers that might help with your research. 

When you are ready to begin searching the links below will take you to the database itself and to a page to learn more about the Portuguese-American Digital Newspaper Collection.

Archives and Special Collection Librarian

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Chelsea Fernandes
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Archives & Special Collections
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