Copyright Ken Smith
The Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives
Proposed by the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture in 2004 and endowed in 2005, the Archives are named after Affonso Gil Mendes Ferreira, a founder of Portuguese-American radio back in 1933, whose daughter, Otilia Ferreira, made the lead gift to the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives Endowment. The Endowment was further made possible by generous gifts from the Luso-American Foundation of Lisbon, Anthony Andrade, Frank B. Sousa, Luis Pedroso, Mark and Elisia Saab, Maria Alves Furman, and John Galant. The donations will help foster research, publications, colloquia, and exhibitions based on collections in the Archives while facilitating the continued growth of the collections. Future fundraising will also enable the development of pedagogical materials for teaching Portuguese-American history and culture at K-12 and university levels.
“The Archives are the first of its kind and national in scope,” according to Prof. Gloria de Sa, Faculty Director of the Archives. “Among its holdings are papers of Portuguese-Americans distinguished in politics, business, law, entertainment, the arts and literature. Among its holdings are genealogical records, newspapers, books, recordings, family photographs, scrapbooks and correspondence that document social history, illustrating the collective experience of immigration, settlement and life in the United States.”
Collections include the literary papers of noted immigrant author Alfred Lewis, original runs and microfilms of newspapers like the Diário de Notícias, Portuguese Times and O Jornal, the televised interview program “The Portuguese Around Us,” the Ferreira-Mendes Radio Recordings (from the 1940s), and the American-Portuguese Genealogical and Historical Society Collection.
The primary goal of the Archives is to make these rich and growing resources easily accessible to anyone interested in Portuguese-American history. To that end and through the generous support of the Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores (Carlos César, President), the Luso-American Foundation of Lisbon, Mark and Elisia Saab and Luis Pedroso, the Archives have begun a major effort to digitize and make available online, free of charge, all significant Portuguese-American newspapers. The Portuguese-American Newspaper Digitization Initiative, undertaken in conjunction with the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, has already completed a searchable version of the Diario de Noticias (1919-1973): https://news.arcasearch.com/us/um/?paper=___ The initiative, with support from additional donors and institutions, will include significant newspapers from Portuguese communities across the United States.
The new home of the Archives features the Prince Henry Society of Massachusetts, Inc. Reading Room, the Costa and Silva Families Vestibule, the William Q. and Mary Jane MacLean Gallery, and the Dorothy Santos Lobby, along with an office suite, a processing room, and a climate-controlled storage vault-named for several individuals who have generously donated their personal collections and supported the renovation project: The Dennis Rezendes Azorean Ancestral and Personal Life Collection, the Edmund Dinis Portuguese-American Political, Legal and Public Service Collection, the Frank B. Sousa Business and Entrepreneurship Collection, and the Carlton Viveiros Collection.
Materials of interest to the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives include:
- Family papers and papers of prominent individuals such as letters, diaries, photos and passports.
- Records of cultural, religious and civic organizations (churches, political organizations, community groups, voluntary associations, special event committees, etc.), such as articles of incorporation, charters, photographs, pamphlets, correspondence and minutes of meetings.
- Records of private businesses, including ledger books, correspondence, photographs, architectural records and brochures.
- Oral Histories and other interviews documenting Portuguese-American history.
- Special artifacts: awards, medals, photographs, and posters that document a particular event, such as Dia de Portugal.
- Rare books, posters, maps and other items that document the history of the Portuguese in the United States.
Prof. Gloria de Sa
Assistant Professor, Sociology
Faculty Director of the Archives
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth