The Portuguese in the United States

of watercolor of Vasco da Gama's ship

Hispanic Division, Library of Congress

The Portuguese were the leading European explorers in the fifteenth century and it was through the efforts of Portuguese-born and sponsored men that many parts of the world, including the coast of present-day California, were discovered and mapped. They began settling in the United States several centuries later, although there were isolated Portuguese Jewish communities here beginning in the seventeenth century and in the Sandwich Islands, now Hawaii, in the eighteenth. In the late 1800s large numbers began to immigrate, often first working on whaling ships leaving from the Azores or Cape Verde Islands and settling in Hawaii, California, or New England. Eventually they would come to New Jersey and other parts of the United States. With the enactment of new immigration legislation in 1921, new arrivals dropped tremendously, picking up again in the 1950s after earthquakes devastated the Azorean island of Faial. The immigrants came largely from the Azores, but also from Cape Verde and Madeira, later from mainland Portugal and occasionally from other parts of the Portuguese empire, including Macau. They and their descendants have been active in all facets of life in the United States, from agriculture to industry to politics, and at the same time have introduced some of their customs, food, and even instruments to other Americans.

This project is sponsored by the Luso-American Development Foundation, and is part of the Transatlantic Digital Library project.

Special Presentation:
Celebrating Portuguese Communities in the U.S.: A Cartographic Perspective


Relevant LC Collections and Projects

Subject Index

Other Internet Resources

Selected Bibliography

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Comments: Ask a Librarian (06/04/99)