Skip to Main Content

Portuguese-American Genealogy

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


We are glad you are here! Although not a genealogical library, The Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives collections may prove to be a rich resource for contextual information on your ancestor, especially in collections that document local clubs and organizations. Precisely how helpful our collections will be depends largely on where you are in your genealogical research.

1. If you are just starting out we are unlikely to be the most helpful place to start for the following reasons:

  • The most helpful type of records for genealogists are what are called "vital records". 

    "Vital records most commonly refer to records such as birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and divorce decrees, wills and the like. These records are created and held by local authorities (state and municipal/county), with possible exceptions for events overseas, in the military, or in the District of Columbia. They are not considered Federal records; therefore they are not held by NARA (National Archives and Records Administration)"

    Our archives are fantastic sources of information, however we are not a local authority so we do not possess copies of any vital records except those that are given to us by individuals.

  • The records that we do have the contain this type of information are our Historical Newspapers, however the majority of these are entirely in Portuguese. 

2. If you are further along in your research and are looking for information on specific individuals outside of vital records we might  have information that will be of interest to you. 

  • These collections will be primarily (as mentioned above) the Historical Newspaper Collection which is mostly available digitally. 
  • We also have some genealogical collections curated by individuals and donated to us. Please keep in mind that while these are specifically genealogical in nature they are narrow in that they are only about the families that the researcher was interested in. If that happens to be your family, you are in luck! If not, there is not going to much in those collections that is of use. 

If you are in the beginning stages of your research and came here to learn about the nuances of Portuguese genealogical research please continue to our Getting Started-Portuguese-American Genealogy section. 

If you are ready to start looking for places that have vital records but would like some assistance please see our section on Vital Records

If you are further along in your research and are interested in the materials within the archives that may be of assistance to you please continue to our section on Genealogy Collections at the Archives and the Portuguese-American Digital Newspaper Collection

Archives and Special Collection Librarian

Profile Photo
Chelsea Fernandes
Contact Me

Claire T. Carney Library
Archives & Special Collections
Room M07
285 Old Westport Road
Dartmouth, MA 02747