Portuguese Immigrants in the United States
1492-1769 | 1770-1869 | 1870-1899 | 1900-1919 | 1920-1957 | 1958-present


João G. Mattos Jr., born in the Azores, joined the California Assembly in 1900, being the first person of Portuguese extraction to do so. He would later join the California Senate, as well as serve as a judge.

In Sacramento, the first Portuguese class in the state of California was established.

The Portuguese weekly A liberdade began to be published in Sacramento, later moving to Oakland (1920), where it was published six days a week for six years, thereafter becoming once again a weekly publication. It was edited by Guilherme Silveira da Glória, a former Catholic priest who was also a poet.

c. 1900

The Portuguese began moving into the San Joaquim Valley at the turn of the century, and it became the second major area of Portuguese settlement in California. Southern California, especially San Diego, also grew in importance.


Many Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii moved to California.


Frank M. Silvia of Fall River, Massachusetts, an important Bristol County representative of the Portuguese, died.

The large and successful União Portuguesa Protectora do Estado da Califórnia (U.P.P.E.C.), a Portuguese women's benevolent society, was begun under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. It was incorporated in January of 1902. Also in 1902, Queen Dona Amélia of Portugal received the honorary supreme presidency of the organization.


In Honolulu there were 5,000 Portuguese. There were another 5,500 living on plantations and yet another 5,000 living elsewhere in Hawaii. The Hawaiian Missionary Board published the first edition of a Protestant hymnal in Portuguese, Canticos evangelicos: Nova colecção de psalmos e hymnos, printed by Typographia Lusitana. A. H. R. Vieira was among those who translated the lyrics and he composed some of the songs.

In Gloucester, Massachusetts the first Holy Ghost celebration in New England was held after Captain Joseph P. Mesquita's skipper weathered a terrible storm. The captain had vowed that he would hold a Holy Ghost festival if he and his crew survived the storm. He sent to Portugal for a crown, which was placed on the head of each of the crew members by a priest after Mass during the Gloucester festival every year until 1931.

The American White Star Line began providing twice-monthly service between the Azores and Boston. The ships went to Ponta Delgada and occasionally Madeira, but they never visited the mainland.


The Real Associação Autonómica Micaelense was formed in Massachusetts by immigrants from the Azorean island of São Miguel. The mutual-aid society was responsible for popularizing the festival to the Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres (Lord Holy Christ of Miracles). The association had branches in California and Hawaii, and the festival came to be celebrated in Oakland and South San Francisco. Nonetheless, Fall River, Massachusetts has been the festival's principal locale.


A drought in Cape Verde led to an increase in migration.

David N. Carvalho's Forty Centuries of Ink, or a Chronological Narrative Concerning Ink and Its Background was published. Carvalho wrote the book in response to the problem of wide-spread usage of low-grade inks and papers that would not stand the test of time, and his objective was to show how to tell the difference between truly old ink and that which has been made to look old for criminal purposes, as well as to offer a history of inks. Carvalho was well-known for his crime-solving abilities, which were highlighted in Crime in Ink by his daughter, Claire Carvalho, and Boyden Sparkes. To see full bibliographic citations, see the bibliography.

The Portuguese Methodist Church in Oakland, California was founded by Rev. Roberto K. Baptista, who was born in Jacksonville, Illinois and was a descendent of the Madeiran Protestants who had moved to Illinois before the Civil War.

Archer M. Huntington financed the publication of a facsimile edition of Garcia de Resende's 1516 songbook Cancioneiro geral. In Hawaii during the same year the fourth edition of the Catecismo pequeno da doutrina cristã was published for Portuguese Catholics.

A strike protesting wage cuts in textile mills in Fall River that lasted half a year brought many Azoreans to near starvation. Thirteen thousand Portuguese left Fall River as a result of the strike, but they were quickly replaced by new immigrants, and those that did stay got by partly because they owned vegetable gardens. This was only one of a number of strikes for better wages and working conditions, as well as shorter hours, in which the Portuguese took an active role. Some of the strikes lasted as long as nine months.


January of 1905 saw the founding of the "A Pátria" Association of Mutual Help in Honolulu, which was incorporated in 1910. The association's constitution and statutes were in Portuguese.

On New Year's Day in Oakland, a group headed by Dr. M. M. Enos founded the hospital of St. Anthony, the first Portuguese hospital in California. Within two decades it had a special maternity ward and 100 beds.

The Portuguese-American Bank was founded by Joaquim António da Silveira, at one point perhaps the richest Portuguese in the United States, and a number of other Portuguese in San Francisco. Silveira was originally of Ribeira da Areia, São Jorge, Azores, and he received knighthood in the Order of Christ from the Portuguese government in 1935. He lived in California and Nevada and was active in the dairy business.

Sixteen percent of the population of New Bedford, Massachusetts were Portuguese-born or of Portuguese parentage. Even those Portuguese who did not settle in New Bedford tended to pass through the city before moving on to other communities in New England or California. The first Portuguese immigrants to stay in New Bedford were from the Azorean island of Faial, although there were some Cape Verdeans among them. As the cotton mills grew around the turn of the century, immigrants began to come from the eastern islands of São Miguel and Terceira. After 1910 the continentals and Madeirans, along with more Cape Verdeans, arrived.


The Portuguese-language weekly As novidades, begun by John Machado, was published in Fall River, Massachusetts.


The volume of reemigration led to a naturalization convention between the United States and Portugal.

In Lowell, north of Boston, there were about 440 Portuguese families residing in crowded tenements.


Thirty-one members of the legislature of the Territory of Hawaii were of Portuguese ethnicity and many of these were foreign-born.


A Cape Verdean fisherman, Francisco Silva, organized the first Festa do Espírito Santo (Festival of the Holy Ghost) in La Playa, on San Diego Bay. His daughter Rose was the first queen of the festival.


There were four or five Portuguese weeklies in publication in Hawaii, three in California, and seven in New England.


The second president of Stanford University, Dr. John C. Branner, wrote A Brief Grammar of the Portuguese Language.

Ezra Pound devoted a chapter of his The Spirit of Romance to the Portuguese epic poet Luís de Camões.

The fall of the Portuguese monarchy led to the immigration of several thousand Continentals. Some joined the Azorean fishermen who had been in Provincetown and Gloucester, Massachusetts, as well as the Boston harbor, for half a century.

The first Portuguese school in the United States, affiliated with the Santo Cristo parish of Fall River, Massachusetts, opened in 1910. The Rev. João B. de Valles, the second pastor of the parish, was chiefly responsible for this endeavor. He was a World War I hero and a public school in New Bedford, Massachusetts was named for him.

António A. Rogers, son of António Rogers, who was born Soares in Flamengos, Faial, Azores, was himself born in San Leandro, California. He became deputy district attorney of Alameda County in 1909 and was elected in 1910 on the Republican ticket to the State Assembly, in which he served a two-year term. A decade later he left politics and devoted himself to practicing law.

The number of Portuguese who had immigrated to Hawaii was greater than 21,000.


Because of poor working conditions in Hawaii, roughly 2,000 Portuguese moved from the islands to California during this period.


M. G. Santos wrote the Almanach Portuguez de Hawaii para 1911.

Antone Ferreira Tavares, a Hawaiian born in the Azores, was elected to the Territorial House of Representives. A successful businessman, Tavares was reelected for five consecutive terms. He was elected to the Territorial Senate in 1920 and reelected once.

The Portuguese-American League was formed in Oakland, California with the objective of promoting naturalization and activity in local politics.

Direct service from the Azores to Providence was established by the Fabre Line. The steamers took the following route: New York-Providence-Lisbon-Ponta Delgada-Angra do Heroísmo-Horta-Providence.


The Portuguese consul in Boston reported that his district, comprised of the six New England states, with 70,000 native-born Portuguese and 80,000 American-born descendants, had the second largest Portuguese colony of all other nations of the world, following only Brazil. According to the consul, over ninety percent of them lived in Massachusetts, while there were 10,000 in Rhode Island, 1,000 in Connecticut, and about 300 in the remaining states of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. Seventy-five percent were Azorean. The report stated that fifty-six percent of the women, and two-thirds of the overall Portuguese population, were factory workers.

Of the thirty-five Portuguese mutual-aid societies in New England, eleven were for women.

The Holy Ghost parish in Fall River opened the first Portuguese parochial school in the United States. Many others in New England followed, although none were ever created in Hawaii or California.

Artur Vieira de Ávila, João de Melo, and Constantino Barcelos founded the Portuguese newspaper O lavrador in Lemoore, California. It moved to Hanford and Ávila became the only editor. In 1920 it moved again, this time to Tulare, where Alfredo Silva joined Ávila in editing the paper, which they moved to Oakland in 1927.

Several thousand Capeverdeans were residing in the San Francisco area. They worked on riverboats or on the docks.


João Francisco Escobar of Faial, Azores wrote The New Method to Learn the Portuguese Language without Teacher.

In West Oakland, the social and benevolent society Associação Protectora União Madeirense do Estado da Califórnia (União Madeirense for short) was founded. The society grew to include dozens of councils not only in California, but also in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.

Portuguese immigration to Hawaii came almost to a halt.

This year marks the beginning of Portuguese settlement in western Massachusetts, specifically Ludlow, located near Springfield.


A revista portuguesa, a monthly journal, was first published in Hayward, California by João de Melo. It ceased publication in 1925.


Mr. A. de Souza Canavarro died. He had served as the Portuguese consul in Hawaii for nearly three decades.

In San Francisco the Sociedade Cabo Verde was organized to benefit Cape Verdean men.

The first man from Fall River, Massachusetts of Portuguese descent to become a dentist was Joseph C. Carvalho, originally of São Miguel, Azores. He earned his degree from the University of Maryland.

The weekly Portuguese newspaper O Portugal first appeared in New Bedford, Massachusetts, started by Alberto Moura of Chaves, Portugal, who sold the newspaper two years later and moved to California.

This year in Massachusetts, there were 440 servants, 52 bartenders, 27 clergymen, 25 waiters, 10 dentists, 9 teachers, 8 musicians, 8 physicians and surgeons, 5 trained nurses, 5 saloon keepers, 1 actor, and 1 lawyer who were Portuguese.


Fifty-five percent of the employed Portuguese in Massachusetts worked in the textile mills. Men earned more than women, and the Portuguese earned less than members of other nationalities.

The Panama Exposition was held in San Francisco to commemorate the construction of the Panama Canal. Portugal participated in the exposition, largely through the efforts of the Portuguese-American community in California.

The Carvalho steamship agency was established in San Francisco by A. M. Carvalho and J. R. de Faria.

c. 1915

Four members of the parish of the Immaculate Conception in New Bedford, Massachusetts began the celebration of the Madeiran Festa do Santíssimo Sacramento, the Feast of the Most Holy Sacrament (the Eucharist), held on the first Sunday of August. It came to be known as the largest Portuguese-American social gathering.


The distinguished Brazilian diplomat, historian, and journalist Dr. Manoel de Oliveira Lima, of Portuguese stock, offered his library to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. The Oliveira Lima Library, opened in 1924, is the oldest Luso-Brazilian library in the United States and its collections are extensive.

The Sociedade de Caridade Portuguesa (Portuguese Charity Society) was founded in Honolulu.


On May 13, three children in Portugal who were tending their flocks reported seeing a lady, believed to be the Virgin Mary. On that spot was built the shrine to Our Lady of Fátima, to which many pilgrims have since traveled. The apparition has profoundly affected Portuguese spiritual life on both sides of the Atlantic. As a matter of fact, seven of the eight Portuguese churches inaugurated in the United States between 1948 and 1973 were named Our Lady of Fátima.

The United States instated a literacy test, requiring immigrants to have a basic knowledge of reading and writing in their own language. Those over sixteen years of age were given a short passage to read, and there is speculation that illiterate Portuguese may have managed to pass because the test administrators were not familiar enough with the language to know if they were reading correctly.

Over 15,000 Portuguese volunteered to serve in the armed forces when the U.S. entered World War I. Walter Goulart, a Portuguese American, was the first American soldier to fall. In New Bedford, Massachusetts there is a monument honoring him.

In Oakland, California the União Portuguesa Continental do Estado da Califórnia (Portuguese Continental Union of the State of California, U.P.C.) was formed as a benevolent society for people from continental Portugal, as the other Portuguese benevolent societies were controlled by Azoreans or Madeirans. The continental Portuguese population of California was rather small, and the U.P.C. soon branched out to include the East Coast: councils were established in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. In 1957 the U.P.C. merged with the Benevolent Society of California, thus forming the United National Life Insurance Society and in California, the Luso-American Fraternal Federation.

A Portuguese-language school financed by the Portuguese government was opened in Honolulu.

According to Cardozo, in 1917, and again in 1953, there were two Portuguese serving in the Hawaiian Senate, while in 1921-27 and 1931-32, there was one, and the sergeant-at-arms of the Hawaiian Senate in 1932 was Portuguese.


The Luís de Camões Portuguese Library in Oakland, California, founded by Maria Josefina da Glória, opened. It closed in 1939.


Portuguese fraternal organizations, which were known for their good management and low premiums, were often joined by non-Portuguese. For example, about twelve percent of the almost 19,000 members of the I.D.E.S. (Irmandade do Divino Espírito Santo, San Jose) were not of Portuguese descent in 1918.


Manuel Medina is believed to have begun specializing in tuna fishing off the coast of Mexico in 1919. He may have been the one to introduce diesel-powered tuna-clippers that allowed for longer trips, starting in 1930.

The Church of the Five Wounds in San Jose, California was dedicated. The parish had been established in 1914. It started out with a small chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit, but in 1916 the construction of a much larger church, copying one in Braga, in mainland Portugal, was begun. With World War I construction prices skyrocketed, and the parish was severely in debt by the time construction was completed, but the parish survived.

c. 1919

Four immigrants from Vila Franca do Campo, São Miguel, Azores introduced the annual festival to the Senhor da Pedra (Lord of the Stone) to New Bedford in 1919 or 1924.

1492-1769 1770-1869 1870-1899 1900-1919 1920-1957 1958-present

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