The establishment of these archives represents a clear sign of the collective belief that creating a structure dedicated to collecting memory objects associated with Portuguese-Americans will, as Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed, help us learn from the past so that we can gain in judgment to create a better future. Without pretending to be exhaustive, I would like to point out some of the ways in which the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives can help achieve this and other goals.
To individuals and families the archives will offer an opportunity to discover family and cultural roots and a chance to contribute to the collective representation of Portuguese-Americans by donating their objects of memory, like photos, passports, letters, diaries, etc. to the repository.
To Portuguese-Americans as a group, the archives provide a foundation for the collective understanding of who we are as an ethnic group and how we fit into the overarching narrative of U.S. history and culture. By structuring, framing and organizing Portuguese-American social memory, and producing knowledge and narratives based on the objects of memory contained in its collection, the archives will play a pivotal role in the continual construction of group identity, the shaping of our representation and the understanding of our culture in the public domain. In addition, the memories contained in the archives provide a basis for what Nietzsche (1994) called "will’s memory," that is, the group cohesion needed to advocate for Portuguese-American interests within the larger society.
By documenting the experience of the Portuguese in the U.S., the archives are also playing a central role in documenting the history of the communities in which the Portuguese live, and participating in the sustenance, understanding and dissemination of local culture. At a more concrete level, the archives can also serve as a valuable resource to local schools by making available to teachers images, texts and voices that can be used to teach students about local and ethnic history, cultural diversity and citizenship. The same materials can also be utilized to foster tolerance and understanding; and to contribute to an enhanced sense of community.
At the university level the archives support the evidence-based research needs of UMD students and faculty working in the field of Portuguese-American Studies, including those in the Ph.D. program in Luso-Afro-Asio-Brazilian Studies and Theory.
But our aim is to reach beyond the confines of our university in supporting personal and scholarly research on the Portuguese-American experience. By utilizing electronic media to foster access and participation by the global community and by entering into partnerships with other institutions of knowledge and memory to exchange and share archival material, the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives will expand the amount and variety of information available to researchers. An example of these initiatives, is the digitization of one of our major resources-an almost-complete run of the Diário de Notícias, a Portuguese-language daily published in New Bedford between 1919 and 1973.
Finally, a major role of the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives is to contribute to the growing body of knowledge about Portuguese-Americans by supporting the publication of research based on our collection, and by organizing exhibits, conferences, and colloquia like the one we are participating in today.
In order to fulfill these roles, the archives need your continued support. It also needs your participation to help us spread the word about our holdings and add to our collections.
To find out more about the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives please visit our web site at http://www.lib.umassd.edu/archives/paa/paa.html. To inquire about donating materials please contact us at 1-508-999-8686.
Berman, Marshall. 1988. All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Penguin Books.
Fentress, James and Chris Wickham. 1992. Social Memory (New Perspectives on the Past). Oxford: Blackwell Publications.
Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1994. On the Genealogy of Morality, ed. K. Ansell-Pearson, trans. C. Diethe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nora, Pierre. 1989. "Between History and Memory: Les Lieux de Memoire," trans. by Marx Roudebush, Representations, 26(7):7-24.
Schwartz, Joan and Terry Cook. 2002. "Archives, Records and Power: The Making of Modern Memory." Archival Science, 2(1-2):1-19.
M. Gloria de Sá is an assistant professor of sociology at UMD and the faculty director of the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. A Portuguese immigrant herself, she has devoted most of her academic career to studying the process of socio-economic adjustment of the Portuguese in the U.S. She received a BA in sociology from SMU and a Masters and a PhD., also in sociology, from Brown University. Her dissertation titled "The Portuguese of the U.S. from 1880 to 1990: Distinctiveness in Work Patterns across Gender, Nativity and Place" examined historical, gender and spatial work patterns among the Portuguese in the U.S. Besides a book titled A Posição Socioeconómica dos Imigrantes Portugueses e seus Descendentes nos Estados de Massachusetts e Rhode Island (U.S.A), which was based on her Master’s thesis, and participation in numerous conferences and colloquia, she has authored several research articles about the Portuguese in America.
Her most recent publications include: "The Azorean Community on the East Coast" (2008); "The Portuguese in the United States Census of 2000" (2008); "Mobility Ladder or Economic Lifeboat? Self-Employment among Portuguese Immigrant Women in the U.S. from 1970-2006" (2008), and "Context or Culture: Portuguese-Americans and Social Mobility" (forthcoming 2009, with David Borges).
Currently, she is working on an ethnography of the Portuguese in Westport, MA, and on a study of immigrant female entrepreneurship among Portuguese-speaking women in the U.S.