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


Roughly one quarter of the children in schools in Provincetown, Massachusetts were Portuguese.

By this decade, the Portuguese in San Leandro, California were observing the Pentecostal Festa do Espírito Santo (Festival of the Holy Ghost). The festival is typical of Portuguese-American and Azorean, but not Continental Portuguese, communities. Eighty percent of the Portuguese who arrived in the 1870s came to the West Coast.

Dairy Worker
Russell Lee. Portuguese Woman who Works on the Dairy Farm Belonging to Mr. John Oliveira, San Leandro, Calif., April 1942. Photograph. Prints and Photographs Division, U.S. Office of War Information, LC-USW-3-1885-D.

c. 1870

In California, the Portuguese turned increasingly to dairying. About 27 percent of the Portuguese in the United States resided in California, while almost all of the rest were in New England. A decade later more than half would be in California.


The Portuguese presence in the United States picked up dramatically: in the period 1820-70, according to the U.S. census, 5,272 people (not necessarily immigrants) arrived from Portugal, while the figure for 1871-80 is 14,082. Each decade through 1920 immigration continued to increase. Although these figures can be used to demonstrate trends, Azoreans and Cape Verdeans were not always counted among the Portuguese, and the figures do not provide information on U.S.-born citizens of Portuguese descent. For this and other reasons, such as the volume of clandestine departures from Portugal and its territories and/or illegal entries into the United States, as well as the misclassification of Portuguese immigrants as Spanish, reliable data for quantifying the Portuguese presence in the United States are by far the exception, not the rule.


The American whaling industry was in such a state of decline that an entire New Bedford whaling fleet was abandoned in the ice of the Arctic Ocean.


A second attempt at attracting Portuguese laborers to Louisiana was made. About 230 Portuguese, of whom approximately 80 were children, landed in New Orleans and were supposed to work along the Latourche River on plantations. However, work conditions were so poor that many or possibly even all of them left the plantations to work in New Orleans or sail for Cuba.


The first of many Portuguese parishes in Fall River, Massachusetts began as a mission in 1874 and became a parish in 1892. The mission, which grew to be the Santo Christo Parish, was started by Rev. António de Mattos Freitas of São Jorge, Azores.

In Erie, Pennsylvania, the Sociedade Portuguesa da Santíssima Trindade (Portuguese Society of the Most Blessed Trinity) came into being. According to Cardozo it was founded by twenty-five Azoreans; Pap, on the other hand, claims it was formed by two dozen Madeiran families.

At Half Moon Bay in California the Holy Ghost festival was celebrated, begun by a woman from Corvo by the name of Rosa Pedro. According to Pap, this appears to be the first such festival in the United States.


St. John's Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts was dedicated this year. The parish, which was canonically instituted in 1871, was the second Portuguese parish in New Bedford, after St. Mary's.

In this year, 400 Portuguese, a large number of whom formerly served as seamen on whaling vessels, resided in Hawaii.


In Hayward, California, the Guillermo Castro Ranch was partitioned and quite a few Portuguese settlers acquired parcels of the land. João Vieira Goulart of São João, Pico, Azores, was perhaps the most noteworthy of them. He had worked on a whaler out of New England and eventually brought his family to San Francisco in 1869. In 1898, during the Klondike gold rush, his two sons accompanied him to Alaska.

Although official records for the number of Portuguese in California in 1870 and 1880 show approximately 3,500 and 8,100, respectively, in 1876 the Portuguese consul in San Francisco estimated that there were 12,000 on the West Coast, presumably including some of American birth. Pap believes the true figure to lie somewhere in between, and illegal immigration, as well as imprecise definitions and use of the terms "white Portuguese," "black Portuguese," and "Atlantic islander" (which includes natives of the Canary Islands), make it impossible to arrive at an exact figure.


The Jornal de Notícias, the first Portuguese newspaper published in the U.S., was produced in Erie, Pennsylvania by João M. Vicente and António Vicente of Flores, Azores.


The Sociedade Portuguesa de Santo António Beneficente de Hawaii (Portuguese Benevolent Society of St. Anthony of Hawaii) was founded by former whalers and gained in importance after plantation workers also joined.

Nine of the forty-eight captains of Grand Bankers out of Provincetown, Massachusetts were Portuguese.


The first Portuguese immigrants to Honolulu arrived on the German ship Priscilla. Although accounts differ as to the exact number of passengers, at least one hundred men, women, and children from Madeira and possibly also the Azores were on board. They worked on the sugar plantations, as many had done previously. This year marked the beginning of the mass migration of Portuguese to Hawaii, which continued until the end of the century.


A group of Madeiran men who arrived in 1879 brought with them their instruments, forms of three of which became common in the United States: the ukelele, the steel guitar, and the taro patch fiddle.


Several sailing vessels provided regular service between the Azores and New Bedford or Boston.

Azoreans were involved in the canned fish industry in California.


Voz portuguesa, the first Portuguese-language periodical in California, first appeared on August 5. It was founded in San Francisco by a Brazilian and was in publication for six years.

Over seventy percent of the Portuguese in California were residing on the Central Coast (San Francisco and Oakland Bays), and they were by and large farmers.

According to official data, there were 13,159 persons of Portuguese stock (7,990 of whom were foreign-born) residing in the State of California, more than 11,000 more than resided there in 1860. According to the 1880 United States Census, there were 15,650 Portuguese natives in the country as a whole.

Council No. 1 of the União Portuguesa do Estado da Califórnia (Portuguese Union of the State of California, U.P.E.C.) was established in San Leandro. U.P.E.C. grew tremendously over the years and became one of the most prestigious and largest associations of its kind.

Jacinth M. de Gouveia, who is said to have been the one to introduce linguiça (Portuguese smoked pork sausage) into Hawaii, arrived. He was originally from São Miguel, Azores.

Also in Hawaii, the Brotherhood of the Holy Ghost of the Holy Trinity, organized to celebrate the religious holidays observed by the Portuguese, was founded.

c. 1880

The first settler from Faial arrived in Martha's Vineyard and began a small farm. It would be the beginning of an Azorean farming community, uncommon in New England, where most Portuguese immigrants were industrial workers, although quite a few Cape Verdeans and Azoreans worked picking cranberries, strawberries, or other berries.


The newspaper Luso-americano may have been started this year; if so, it was the first Portuguese-language newspaper in New England. It ran until 1889.


In New Bedford, Massachusetts, the Monte Pio Luso-Americano was founded. It is New Bedford's oldest fraternal organization and was authorized by President McKinley to fly the Portuguese flag without an accompanying U.S. flag. In 1896 King Dom Carlos I gave the society's first president, Manuel M. Enos, a knighthood in the Order of Christ.

c. 1882

The newspaper A liberdade was founded in Hawaii after 1882. In 1896 it merged with O luso, which remained in publication until the 1920s.


John B. Ávila, the "father of the sweet potato industry," arrived in California. Born on São Jorge, Azores, Ávila worked on farms in Alameda County for several years until, along with his brother, he bought irrigated land on which he planted Azorean sweet potatoes, which would soon become a major commercial crop in the Atwater-Buhach area. Ávila was one of the "Big Four" sweet potato growers, all of them Portuguese, who controlled the industry in California during the first decades of the twentieth century. He also ran a general store, was one of the founders of the Atwater branch of the Bank of America, and was the supreme president of the Irmandade do Divino Espírito Santo in 1912-13.

c. 1883

The Portuguese newspaper A civilização luso-americana was published in Boston. It may have been the first Portuguese-language newspaper in New England.


During this period, 925 Portuguese men, 638 women, and 1,189 children arrived in Hawaii. Not only were the Portuguese the highest-paid members of the labor force in Hawaii at the time, they were also the chief source of labor on the islands.


The Hawaii Homestead Law, under which twenty Portuguese acquired land during 1886-88, was passed.

Garcia Monteiro arrived in New Bedford. Born of a wealthy family in Faial, he left his privileged life behind to start over in the United States. Upon arrival, he worked on a Portuguese immigrant newspaper, barely making a living. By 1885 he was in Boston with another low-paying job, this time in a print shop. Still, he refused to accept assistance from his family and prepared himself for medical school while continuing to work in the print shop. In 1887 Garcia Monteiro was admitted to a tuition-free school in Boston, and he graduated within three years.

In Gloucester, Massachusetts, some Azorean settlers purchased land with the intent of building a Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage. According to Canonic law, they were required to do so in the name of the Archbishop of Boston, but they were reluctant to comply, and the dispute went to court. A church was finally completed in 1893. A celebration in honor of Our Lady of Good Voyage is held every June in Gloucester.

c. 1884

The Portuguese settlement on Point Loma (San Diego) was started by Manuel Madruga of Ribeiras, Pico, Azores. Eventually Madruga, who died in 1941 at the age of 105, would begin two fish markets. Madruga's wife Rosalina also lived a very long life: she died in 1951 at 101. He is said to have founded the area of San Diego known as La Playa, where many wealthy Portuguese resided.


The Portuguese-language newspaper O luso-hawaiiano, founded in Honolulu by A. Marques, was published.


Nearly half of the more than 21,000 Roman Catholics in Hawaii were Portuguese.

In Providence, R.I., the Portuguese parish Our Lady of the Rosary was founded.

c. 1887

According to Cardozo, the first recorded Festa do Divino Espírito Santo (Festival of the Divine Holy Ghost) was held in Sausalito, on San Francisco Bay, before 1887.


U.P.E.C. (União Portuguesa do Estado da Califórnia) members were not allowed to discuss the organization's business with nonmembers, and women were not allowed to join. In addition, a number of the original members were Masons. This situation left many wives and girlfriends suspicious of U.P.E.C.'s activities. After Father Manuel Francisco Fernandes, on February 5, 1887, wrote in the Progresso californiense of San Francisco that the Masonry was headed by the devil, U.P.E.C.'s leaders resolved to write a hymn for the organization that would show that its members were patriotic and religious and that it was not a Masonic society. The hymn did seem to lay the fears to rest.

The long-running Portuguese newspaper União portuguesa was founded in San Francisco by António Maria Vicente.


The Church of the Holy Ghost, the first Californian Portuguese Catholic church, was inaugurated in Centerville.

The newspaper O amigo dos católicos appeared in California. It was renamed O arauto in 1896 and O jornal de notícias in 1917.

The sponsoring of Portuguese immigration to Hawaii was ceased in 1888 due to its high cost and the success of efforts to recruit Japanese workers. Almost 12,000 people had moved from Madeira or São Miguel, Azores to Hawaii by this date.


The statutes of the Irmandade do Divino Espírito Santo (Brotherhood of the Divine Holy Ghost, I.D.E.S.) of Mission San Jose, California were written in 1889, although the brotherhood seems to have been started a few years earlier: the celebration of the Festa do Divino Espírito Santo in 1887 may have been the group's first activity. I.D.E.S. grew to be a large organization with several councils, with the supreme council being located in Oakland. In 1917, at the society's peak, it had 11,006 members.


Large numbers of Portuguese immigrants began to arrive in Fall River, Massachusetts, mostly from São Miguel, to work in the cotton mills. They were the first sizable group of Portuguese to arrive in that city. Within thirty years they made up one-fifth of Fall River's population.


Inacio Rodrigues Costa Duarte, the first person known to have been Portuguese consul in San Francisco, served during this period.


On June 13, A pátria, the first Portuguese newspaper in Oakland, California, appeared for the first time. It was founded by a Brazilian national, Manuel Stone, along with the Sociedade de Publicidade Portuguesa, and it was in print for six years, by which time Oakland had become the center of Portuguese culture in California, with 4,000 Portuguese living there, particularly in West Oakland.

Fourteen-year-old Guilherme M. Luiz of Angra do Heroísmo, Azores, arrived in the United States in 1891. He settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts and worked in the mills there. The successful Guilherme M. Luiz Travel Agency of New Bedford was established in 1909 by his family, who founded A alvorada (later called the Diário de notícias), a very professional newspaper, in 1919. The newspaper was sold to João R. Rocha in 1940 and continued to be published until 1973.

The first Portuguese-American Methodist church was founded in New Bedford. Two years later, a Baptist church was also organized in New Bedford, and another Methodist church, this one in Fall River, followed.

The first Holy Ghost festival in Hawaii was held this year. At one point there were four such festivals held yearly in Honolulu alone.


The whaling station at San Simeon, California, founded in the late 1860s by José Machado, also known as Joseph Clark, closed. It was the last of the whaling stations in California. In 1962 it was declared a California State Historical Monument.

c. 1892

There was a Portuguese Ladies Society in Honolulu.


The Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, and of the eighteen delegates to the Constitutional Convention, three were Portuguese.


During this period 18,096 acres of homestead lands were acquired by 514 Portuguese in the Hawaiian Islands.


In Honolulu the Kalihi Holy Ghost Society was founded to sponsor social events and celebrate religious feasts.

In Santa Clara, California the Sociedade do Espírito Santo (S.E.S.) was founded.

The Real Associação Autónoma Micaelense de Massachusetts was founded. At one point it had about fifty branches throughout the United States, and its membership was open only to São Miguel-born men and their descendants. It ceased to exist in 1936 and was succeeded by the Irmandade do Senhor Santo Cristo de Socorros Mortuários, which was formed in Alameda County, California and allowed any Portuguese to join.


John Philip Sousa composed The Stars and Stripes Forever, which became the official march of the United States. Sousa remains one of the most famous American musicians and composers.

The newspaper O luso was first published. It was formed by the merging of A união lusitano-hawaiiana with A sentinella. The paper ceased publication in 1924.


The Hawaiian Islands, known at the time as the Sandwich Islands, became United States territory, thus ending the Hawaiian penal contract labor system, under which most of the Portuguese immigrants had arrived.

The Sociedade Portuguesa Rainha Santa Isabel (Portuguese Society of Queen St. Elizabeth, S.P.R.S.I.), named for the queen of medieval Portugal canonized in 1625, was formed at St. Joseph Church in Oakland, California to serve the church and provide benefits to the society's members, although it ceased its affiliation with the church in 1901. This large, prosperous society is a women's organization and it performs charitable works, including offering scholarships.

The União Portuguesa do Estado da Califórnia began publishing its Boletim, later renamed U.P.E.C. Life, the oldest Portuguese publication of its type. It has included both information about the organization and historical essays on the Portuguese in California.

The first Portuguese physician in Fall River, Massachusetts, António H. Rosa, graduated from the University of Maryland in Baltimore's School of Medicine.

Of the eighteen Portuguese mutual-aid societies in New England, two were for women.


During this period, three Portuguese newspapers -- A voz pública (1899-1904), A setta (1903-21), and O facho (1906-27) -- were published in Hilo, Hawaii. During 1900-10, A liberdade was published in Honolulu. O facho was the last Portuguese newspaper to be printed in Hawaii.


Fifty-nine percent of Portuguese immigrants during this period were male.


Almost 13,000 Portuguese had come to Hawaii by 1899.

Hayward, California's first Holy Ghost Festival was sponsored by the Hayward chapter of the Irmandade do Divino Espírito Santo, I.D.E.S. The chapter had been formed the previous year.

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

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