$1.5 million Portuguese-American Archives Endowment

The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth announced today the creation of the Affonso “Ferreira Mendes” Mendes Portuguese-American Archives Endowment in the amount of $1.5 million. The event took place on Friday, April 15, 2005 at 12 Noon, in the University Library Reading Room (Parking Lot 13). The lead gift was made by Ms. Otília Ferreira, whose father, Affonso “Ferreira Mendes” Mendes, was one of the founders of Portuguese-American radio back in the early 1930s. Another six individual and institutions also made considerable contributions, namely, Anthony Andrade, Frank B. Sousa, Elisia Saab, Luis Pedroso, Maria Furman, John Gallant and the Luso-American Foundation, of Lisbon, Portugal.

Through the creation of the Affonso “Ferreira Mendes” Mendes Portuguese-American Archives Endowment, the “University recognizes the importance of the contributions to the United States of America by the more than 1 million Americans of Portuguese descent, including more than 45% of the population of the South Coast of Massachusetts,” said Chancellor Jean MacCormack. The University will take the steps necessary to document, effectively and properly, the Portuguese immigrant and ethnic experience in the United States by hiring the personnel capable of developing the Portuguese-American Archives, namely: a) an archivist with a mastery of the Portuguese language to catalogue and make accessible the various materials in the Archives; and b) a tenure-track faculty member in the area of social history, a specialist in Portuguese-American history and culture. These individuals will promote research, publications, colloquia, and exhibitions based on the Archives; facilitate the continued growth of the Archives; and encourage the use of the Archives for teaching purposes at the university and K-12 levels. All of these activities will enable scholars and students to contribute actively to the documentation of the history of the Portuguese in the United States.

The Archives will include letters, unpublished manuscripts, diaries, historical photographs, newspapers and magazines, papers of fraternal organizations, videos, films, recorded music, passports, oral history recordings and transcriptions, among other materials. Garnered principally from the region, but also from around the state and all parts of this great nation where the Portuguese have settled, these documents will embody the historical memories of Portuguese Americans. The objective is to build a unique and rich collection to be used by educators, scholars, family and community historians, filmmakers, exhibit curators, and journalists, among others. Through this collection, the experiences and thoughts of the immigrants and their descendents will become part of American history and the American experience. The Archives already house many important materials, including Diário de Notícias, published from 1919 to 1970, the only Portuguese-language daily newspaper ever published in the United States for a significant length of time.

Collaboration and Partnerships: According to Prof. Frank F. Sousa, director of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture, “the Archives will be a valuable resource for anyone wishing to study the social history and culture of immigrant communities or to understand the politics and economics of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As the central repository for this invaluable material, the Archives will foster the creative potential of the emergent field of Portuguese-American Studies. The Archives will seek cooperation with museums, libraries, other archives, academic institutions, foundations and private collections throughout the United States, and aim to participate in joint projects, publications, exhibitions and conferences.”

The Archives will support the University commitment to promoting regionally-based research, while establishing partnerships with community groups and regional institutions. The Archives could also serve as the basis for K-12 outreach and curriculum development, and hopefully lead to NEH-funded institutes for teachers in the area of social studies and language. Book-length studies based on the Archives will be included in the recently founded Portuguese in the Americas Series, published by the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture.


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  • Updated:
    November 8, 2012