The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories
Cape Verdean American oral history project
Repository: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Archives & Special Collections
Collection Description (CRHP): This collection includes an interview of a Cape Verdean woman from Hyannis, Mass., named Eugenia Fortes. She was a charter member of the Cape Cod NAACP, and participated in picketing Hyannis restaurants for their white-only policies. She also opened up the Barnstable beaches to blacks. There is now a beach named for her.
Collection Description (Extant): The Cape Verde islands are an Atlantic archipelago about 400 miles off the west coast of Africa. Originally settled by the Portuguese in the 15th century, they became an important stopover along transatlantic trade routes. They were for many years involved in the Western African slave trade; and as a result the population has traditionally been a mix of West African and Portuguese ethnicity. The islands have had a long history of emigration due to extreme poverty and prolonged drought. Although islanders emigrated to many parts of the world in significant numbers, by far the largest group emigrated to the United States, by way first of the whaling vessels bound for New Bedford, and later by way of a thriving packet (passenger) trade, also bound for the port of New Bedford and Providence. Although southeastern Massachusetts boasts the largest of concentration of Cape Verdean immigrants, many moved on to California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston and other parts of the country. In southeastern Massachusetts Cape Verdeans worked as whalers in the whale trade until its decline in the early 20th century. From around the turn of the century they filled the need for cheap labor in the textile and cranberry industries, which led to a steady influx of immigrants to the region until 1922, when the U.S. government enacted new laws to restrict the immigration of non-European peoples.
The oral history project was initially funded by a Healey Endowment Grant from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Foundation. Rosa Neto Lopes of East Freetown, Massachusetts conducted the interviews, which have been transcribed.
Collection URL: http://www.lib.umassd.edu/archives/OralHP.html#CVAOHP
Digital Status: Partial
Extent: 15 transcripts
Related Archival Items: Eugenia Fortes was also interviewed by the HistoryMakers. The organization Tales of Cape Cod also has an interview with her, a copy of which is at the Sturgis Library. In addition the Zion Union Heritage Museum of Hyannis, a black history and Cape Verdean Museum, has information on her.
Interviewees: Eugenia Fortes
Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights
Civil rights demonstrations
Civil rights movements--Massachusetts
Civil rights workers--Massachusetts
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People