History & Events
From brave explorers to great kings to courageous immigrants – the Portuguese people have left an indelible mark on world history.
Since the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese have pursued their dreams across the world, in the old country and the new, all the way to the west coast of the United States and Hawaii. Select an article to discover the incredible contributions of the Portuguese and their descendants on the stage of world history.
Click on an article below.
The island of Faial, one of the nine islands of Azores, was discovered in 1427.
The eruption of an offshore volcano near Capelinhos, the western cape of Faial Island in the nine-island Azores archipelago in 1957 came to be a defining moment in the history of Portuguese immigration.
The lighthouse is a former beacon/lighthouse located along the coastal peninsula of Ponta dos Capelinhos and Costa Nau in the civil parish of Capelo on the island of Faial in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.
The eruption of the Capelinhos volcano on the Azores island of Faial in 1957 came to be a defining moment in the history of Portuguese immigration. Towns on the northern and western coasts were devastated by the volcano's eruption, which led to the immigration of 4,000 people to the United States.
The eruption of a submarine volcano near Capelinhos on the island of Faial in the Azores in 1957-58 was a time of difficulty, often fear, and led to the emigration of more than 130,000 people between 1957 and 1977.
Portugal has long been a land of assimilation as well as emigration.
Socially significant emigration first occurred in the 15th and 16th centuries during the great explorations. Portugal established trading posts in Africa and Asia, but Brazil was its main colony of settlement. Later, large numbers of Portuguese settled in the African colonies of Angola and Mozambique.
From whalers, to forty-niners, to disaster refugees, to those searching for better opportunities, the U.S. experienced waves of Portuguese immigrants from the 1800s into this millennium.
The Butterfly Effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. A more rigorous way to express this is that small changes in the initial conditions lead to drastic changes in the results. Our lives are an ongoing demonstration of this principle.
Portuguese immigration to Hawaii began in 1878 when Portuguese residents made up less than 1% of the island population. However, the migration that began that year of laborers from Madeira and the Azores to work in the sugar cane plantations rapidly increased the Portuguese presence
Poor economic conditions forced emigration from the Azores and Madeira
From 1878 through 1913, Portuguese emigrants voyaged to Hawaii in search of a better life.
João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell. Part 1
João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell. Part 2
João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell. Part 3
Working on a plantation was difficult and demanding, with conditions varying from one plantation to another.
To further their assimilation, the Portuguese set aside the language and culture of Portugal.
After fifty-seven days, the da Gama and Berenguer families arrived in Honolulu, without little 1 1/2 year-old Maria, who died of smallpox the day before.
Through communication with Portuguese in California, many of the original immigrants to Hawaii became convinced that there were better economic opportunities in California.
Throughout America’s history, Portuguese immigrants and their descendents have shown their patriotism and love for freedom by serving in the armed forces of the United States, both in times of peace and war.
Many Portuguese Jews fleeing the Inquisition found their way to America in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Many in the Portuguese Jewish community of New England supported and participated in the struggle for American Independence.
Portuguese immigrants served their adopted country.
By the time the U.S. Civil War began in 1861, there were a significant number of Portuguese on the East Coast, many involved in the whaling and fishing industry ports of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Portuguese were on the front lines on land and at sea.
The Union Navy blockaded Confederate harbors by sinking old whaling ships.
Generations of New England's Dabney Family fostered diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Azores and helped the Union during the Civil War.
Though officially neutral, Portugal favored the Union in the U.S. Civil War.
Many Portuguese immigrants served in the U.S. Civil War, these being a few of the most notable.
Portuguese-Americans fought in WWI and supported the war effort financially.
Fishing fleets were German U-boat targets.
Unlike other wars in which Portugal attempted to remain neutral, the Portuguese entered WWI when they declared war on Germany on November 13, 1914.
Many Portuguese immigrants served the U.S. in WWI, these being a few of the most notable.
Military records indicate that tens of thousands Portuguese-Americans served in World War II. They were present or involved in all of the major battles and operations of the war from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the signing of the Japanese surrender on the U.S.S. Missouri on September 2, 1945.
Portuguese fascist dictator António Salazar did not enter WWII on the side of the Allies until mid-1943 when he approved British use of the airfield at Lajes, Terceira, in the Azores.
Many Portuguese immigrants served the U.S. in WWII, these being a few of the most notable.
Often referred to as "The Forgotten War", it has never been declared officially over.
When North Korea attacked South Korea, the United Nations viewed it as an attempt to spread Communism. As a result, forces from 16 countries joined to repel the north.
Many Portuguese-Americans served the U.S. in Korea, these being a few of the most notable.
The Vietnam War was America’s longest and most unpopular war of the 20th century.
Whether recent immigrants or already established in American life, Portuguese-Americans served with honor in Vietnam.
Many Portuguese-Americans served the U.S. in Vietnam, these being a few of the most notable.
U.S. Forces have been involved in the Middle East for decades.
More assimilated than past generations that served in the U.S. Armed Services.
Many Portuguese-Americans have served and are currently serving the U.S. in the Middle East, these being a few of the most notable.
Several members of our Board of Directors and their families have served in the U.S. Armed Services.
Following the failure of a French construction company in the 1880s, the United States commenced building a canal across a 50-mile stretch of the Panama isthmus in 1904, finishing in 1914.
Many came for the Gold Rush but few struck it rich. Ultimately, most settled into their adopted land and lives of hard work while others followed them in search of a better life.
Destroyed by earthquake and fire, San Francisco took just nine years to rebuild.
There was talk of hosting a World's Fair in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake and fire that leveled large swaths of the city.
Determined to have Portugal represented at the exposition, Portuguese-American immigrants joined together and ultimately sent a delegation to Portugal to present their case.
Built in just five months, the Portuguese Pavilion and its exhibits represented the best of Portugal. All but the Palace of Fine Arts was dismantled after the ten months of exposition, but the Portuguese Pavilion was destined to live on in a different way.
Monsignor Henrique Augusto Ribeiro came to San José not knowing English and wanting to build a new town. His vision was not just to establish a Portuguese National Parish, but to create a Portuguese town in East San José.
José Alvernaz started Sun Ray Dairy in Los Gatos in 1933 and was a well-respected member of his community.
Manuel T. Azevedo was an immigrant who had owned dairies in San Mateo and Napa Counties before finally settling in San José and purchasing the American Dairy Company with Manuel Lewis.
Suffering hardship with the loss of their 1-1/2 year-old daughter the day before landing in Hawaii, João da Gama, Jr. and Maria Marques and their extended family made a life in Hawaii before moving to California.
Selling men's and boys' clothing into his late-30s, Anthony Maderis changed course to build homes instead.
Tracing their lineage in the area to the 1870s, the Rose Family was raised in the East Foothills of San José in a tight-knit Portuguese immigrant enclave.
Leaving school after the 8th Grade, Tony P. Santos served as mayor, councilmember, and police and fire chief of the City of Alviso while running a property ownership and management business.
The Nascimento and Pombinho Families were lifelong friends who partnered to grow fruit and produce milk in the first generation, while the second generation returned to their fruit-growing roots.
José Azevedo purchased 96 acres in 1896 and four generations were living on the land by 1959.
The name derives from the Roman designation "Portus Cale" meaning "Port of Cale"; Cale was an ancient Celtic town and port in present-day northern Portugal.
The word "açor" is Portuguese for a species of raptor, erroneously identified as goshawk. It is also derived from the word for blue.
The name means “wood” in the Portuguese language, and the archipelago was named for its large forests and dense vegetation.
Name derived by the Portuguese from the title "ngola" held by kings of the Ndongo kingdom in what is now northern Angola.
Its name derives from the brazilwood tree from which a deep red dye was produced; these trees were once plentiful along the coast.
Name derived from "Cap-Vert" (Green Cape) on the Senegalese coast, which is the westernmost point of Africa and the nearest point on the mainland to the islands.
The country is named after the Guinea region of West Africa that lies along the Gulf of Guinea and stretches north to the Sahel. Bissau (name of its principal city) distinguishes the country from neighboring Guinea.
Named for the offshore island of Mozambique. The island was apparently named after Mussa al-BIK, an influential Arab slave trader who set himself up as sultan on the island in the 15th century.
São Tomé was named after Saint Thomas the Apostle by the Portuguese who discovered the island on December 21, 1470 -- the saint's feast day. Príncipe is a shortening of the original Portuguese name meaning "Isle of the Prince", referring to the Prince of Portugal.
"Timor" derives from the Indonesian and Malay word meaning "east". East Timor literaly means "East East". The local name "Timor Lorosa'e" translates as "East Rising Sun".
It was known in ancient literature by many names, such as Gomanchala, Gopakapattam, Gopakapuri, and Gomantak. In the 3rd century BC, Goa was known as Aparantha. In the 13th century, the Greeks referred to Goa as Nelkinda. Other historical names are Sindapur, Sandabur, and Mahassapatam.
The name is thought to derive from the A-Ma Temple, built in 1488 and dedicated to Mazu, the goddess of seafarers and fishermen, referred to locally as "Maa Gok" and which in Portuguese became "Macau."
Monsignor Ribeiro came to San José not knowing English and wanting to build a new town. His vision was not just to establish a Portuguese National Parish, but to create a Portuguese town in East San José.
In seven short years, Fr. Martins retired the parish debt incurred in building the church while instituting new parish programs.
Fr. Porto built a grand new rectory and hosted distinguished Portuguese visitors.
Fr. Cordeiro built Five Wounds Elementary School and Convent and tried to take over the I.E.S. Hall.
Fr. Thomas provided wisdom and experience and Fr. Macedo ministered to the Portuguese-speaking congregation while he grew into the role of parish priest, and later, Pastor.
A controversial new generation theologian, Fr. Noia established St. Isabel's Kitchen to feed the poor and hungry daily, while tending to his congregation and acting as a community activist and ambassador for the Portuguese community.
Former long-time parishioner Fr. Silveira revitalized the parish after a decade of instability.
Macau was a port of refuge, fresh water, and food for merchant sailors until it was settled by refugees fleeing Mongol invaders in 1277.
The European age of African maritime exploration began in the 15th century, after the powerful Turkish Empire had blocked the overland route to the East. This was the catalyst for Bartolomeu Dias' and subsequent Portuguese expeditions to find a sea route to India.
After decades of on again, off again relations with the Chinese, the Portuguese finally established a permanent, official trade base at Macau.
Portuguese trade routes resulted in Macau becoming an epicenter of trade in the region. With the Iberian Union in 1580, King Philip II of Spain was encouraged to not harm the trade relationship with the East.
Facing threats from the English and Dutch, Macau needed to bolster its defenses against these rival countries.
Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans and Augustinians arrived in Macau to convert the populations of China and Japan.
Losing its most-lucrative trading route when Japan closed its ports to foreigners, Macau struggled for survival. It was granted a reprieve when King João IV assumed the throne and Portugal was again its privileged trading partner. Later, China opened up Macau for trade with all foreign countries.
As Britain made great strides in Hong Kong, Portugal reasserted and broadened its influence in Macau while many Macanese left for the new British colony.
Macau provided refuge for those fleeing the advancing war.
Maintaining equilibrium between East and West, Macau blossomed in the latter half of the 20th century.
Portugal and the People's Republic of China planned and executed the handover of Macau over a twenty year period -- ending European colonialism in Asia.
Macau is much more than a gambling destination.
Some Portuguese immigrants dreamed of gold, but reality set in and they turned to what they knew.
From mom-and-pop storefronts to businesses with hundreds of employees, Portuguese immigrants realized their American dreams.
Portuguese immigrants are among industry leaders in farming sectors like sweet potatoes and watermelons. They once dominated the tuna industry from their base in San Diego.
Portuguese have dominated the California dairy industry since its inception.
A short essay about an Azorean son, lawyer, professor, poet and politician who would become the first elected President of the First Portuguese Republic.
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era.
The City of Los Banos is tied to the legendary John Philip Sousa through the life of Anthony Ferry
Monsignor Ribeiro came to San José not knowing English and wanting to build a new town. His vision was not just to establish a Portuguese National Parish, but to create a Portuguese town in East San José.
Manuel Francisco Fernandes was an illiterate shepherd and miner who learned to read and write to become a priest who built two of the earliest Portuguese immigrant churches in California and traveled the world.
Porto Santo was discovered in 1418 when a storm diverted Gonçalves Zarco's ship that was following the African coast. In 1419, another piece of land was spotted in the distance, which they named Madeira.
Settlers were recruited from throughout Portugal to populate the islands. Forests were burned for agriculture. Cereal crops were at first successful but after decades began to wane. Switching to sugar cane transformed Madeira into an international trading port.
Columbus learned much about navigating the Atlantic from his stays in the archipelago.
By the end of the 17th century until the 20th century, British merchants occupied a pivotal position in the Madeiran economy, especially in the Madeiran wine industry.
Located 280 miles from the African coast and 540 miles from the European continent, it's a 1.5 hour flight from Lisbon.
Originally built for agriculture, today levadas produce hydroelectric power too.
Madeira was the center of the sugar trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Nature, politics and economics caused islanders to flee the archipelago.
Early visitors were travelers, tourists, and scientists.
Madeira today is a tapestry woven from its rich history and heritage.
The Portuguese Renaissance was a period of exploration during which Portuguese sailors discovered Atlantic archipelagos like the Azores, Madeira, and Cape Verde, explored and colonized the African coast, discovered an eastern route to India that rounded Africa, discovered Brazil, explored the Indian Ocean and established trading routes throughout southern Asia, and sent the first direct European maritime trade and diplomatic missions to Ming China and to Japan.
The Medieval West shared an incomplete image of the world
Portugal is the oldest country in Europe, founded in 1139.
Lisbon became one of the great centers of world trade and developed a cosmopolitan character.
Expansionism created new areas of sovereignty and trade.
Portugal's voyages of discovery stand at the very beginning of the world’s first global culture.
The conquest of Cueta on August 21, 1415 started the era of Portuguese expansion throughout the world.
The archipelagos off the coasts of Portugal and North Africa became provisioning ports for voyagers as well as providing arable land.
The primary incentive for the exploration of the African coast was the development of profitable trade.
Columbus owed the most important part of his cultural and nautical training to his decade-long residence in Portugal.
Bartolomeu Dias rounded the Cape of Good Hope in 1488.
The Island of Mozambique assumed prominence in Portugal’s campaign to take over trade with India and the East Indies after being claimed by Vasco da Gama in 1498.
Prester John was the center of a number of legends that hark back to the writings of “John the Elder” in the New Testament.
Twenty-eight-year-old Vasco da Gama was sent by Dom Manuel I on July 8, 1497, with a flotilla of four ships and 180 men around Africa to India to bring back spices.
Portugal's network of Indian trading posts and fortresses were governed by viceroys appointed by the king.
From Hormuz at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, the Portuguese-controlled customs house oversaw the lucrative trade throughout the Gulf region.
Goa became the Portuguese capital of the “State of India”.
Malacca held an important strategic position relative to the control of the main mercantile routes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Europe came to know China more realistically and discovered the Japanese civilization thanks to Portugal.
On April 22, 1500, Pedro Álvares Cabral “found” the land of Vera Cruz, later renamed Brazil.
At first, Portugal did not assign much importance to Brazil.
Portugal and Spain enjoyed Iberian hegemony over a large part of the world.
The invention of navigation by the stars made the Discoveries possible.
Others built upon the navigational techniques devised by the Portuguese.
Cartography throughout the 14th-16th centuries played a significant role in the expansion of the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula.
Navigational practice resulted in improved ship building techniques.
Garcia de Orta's description of the pharmaceutical species of the Orient is one of the unquestionably accepted contributions to Western medicine resulting from the Discoveries.
The Discoveries led to a wide transfer of plants and animals between the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
Portuguese literature of the Renaissance is distinguished by a wealth and variety of lyric poetry documenting its rulers, discoveries and conquests.
The Portuguese encountered the most varied religions and rituals previously unknown to Europeans, such as animism in Africa and Hinduism in India.
The Portuguese Discoveries constitute an enormously impactful milestone in the History of Mankind.
By today’s standards, whaling is a cruel and heartless industry, pitting men and their equipment against these wonderful mammals of the sea. Yet whaling once played an important part in improving people’s standard of living in many areas of the world.
At a meeting on July 7, 1889, the I.D.E.S. was born. One proposal adopted that day was that each member would contribute one dollar to the widow of each deceased member. This became the basis for the family protection programs of the nascent I.D.E.S.
Successor of the Benevolent Society of California founded in 1868 in San Francisco, and of the União Portuguesa Continental founded in 1917 in Oakland.
Sociedade do Espírito Santo was founded in Santa Clara on December 16, 1895.
Original mandate was to care for church altars and render aid in time of need to sister members.
Thirty Portuguese immigrants founded the society in San Leandro in 1880.
A society devoted to social and charitable works.
Farming and the dairy industry gave way to the trades, commerce, industry, and the professions.
Everywhere you look, you can find reminders of the Portuguese presence in California.
New footprints reflect the varying patterns in the Portuguese community.
Parks, monuments, and plaques commemorate the activities of Portuguese pioneers.
Rural landscapes throughout California are dotted by hundreds of Portuguese dairy farms.
The Church has been an important comfort for the immigrant.
At one time, there were 99 Portuguese halls.
Documentary about Portuguese-Americans along the Hwy 99 corridor in California's Central Valley.
Much of the history of the individual Holy Ghost societies has been lost or was never carefully recorded.
Initially, the festas took place in parks and other outdoor venues, or in community halls owned by civic groups.
Portuguese immigrants brought their heritage and traditions.
Gold and God -- Hawkinsville.
Many Portuguese immigrants brought with them to America deep feelings of love and devotion to Our Lady of Fátima.
Artesia gets its name from its water supply -- artesian wells
Fr. Vicente knew in 1917 that he wanted to go to America to serve God through his Portuguese people.
Groups of Portuguese left the role of Central Valley laborer for the dream of having their own farm in Artesia.
The Portuguese fraternal organizations were at the forefront of raising money for the building effort.
The burgeoning parish outgrew the original Holy Family Catholic Church.
Our Lady of Fátima Church in Laton became a national shrine in 1964.
The Catholic history of Tulare dates to June 5, 1873, when Father Cornelius Scannell baptized a daughter of Frank Freitas.
By the late 1890s, many Portuguese from the Azores began to settle in the Riverdale area.
St. Brigid was one of the most important churches for the Portuguese in the Hanford area.
The Portuguese began arriving in the Tipton area in the 1890s and began organizing fraternal councils by 1913.
St. Mary's was the Mother Church of the Central San Joaquin Valley.
The miracle at Fátima reverberated throughout the world.
Henry Miller and Simon Newman made life on the West Side possible.
From mission church to parish in just four years.
Bulldozed into history in 1993.
The second Holy Ghost Church was renamed Our Lady of Miracles in 1986.
The first Sacred Heart Church was dedicated in the year Our Lady appeared in Fátima.
At the turn of the 20th century, Stevinson was an important population center in Merced County.
The history of Holy Rosary is intimately tied to that of St. Mary’s in Stevinson.
The third St. Joseph Church stands on Center Avenue near the Catholic Cemetery.
Volta was the location of a strategic Southern Pacific Railway depot.
Building lives and livelihoods from the most difficult of circumstances.
The first Mass in Livingston was celebrated at the Portuguese Pentecost Hall on Sunday, August 5, 1928.
After the Gold Rush, many unsuccessful Portuguese miners turned to sheep herding.
Charles Crocker brought opportunities with water and the railroad.
Prior to organizing to build the new church, religious services were held in the Portuguese I.D.E.S. Hall.
The life of a church begins, not ends, with the completion of construction.
By its centennial, Immaculate Conception was still flourishing.
José Machado was a pioneer who helped start California shore whaling at Monterey Bay in 1854.
Mass was celebrated in an abandoned warehouse for years.
The Portuguese community began having growing pains.
Father Forrestal served for twenty-six years and fostered the religious growth of his congregation.
Turlock was an early destination for immigrants.
The magnificent 1912/28 church stood for six decades serving the Portuguese immigrants in Turlock.
Born of a community's faith and determination.
The Catholic Church began instituting major reforms after the Second Vatican Council.
Portuguese immigrant youth yearned for places of belonging and meaning.
1972 saw a rift in the Portuguese Catholic community of Turlock.
Something new and inspiring.
A crisis in leadership leads to a future pastor.
The parish had long outgrown its tiny church by 1992.
Parish programs and activities continue to grow in the new millennium.
With God, all things are possible.
José Fontes' "papéis" paved the way for his daughter and grandchildren to emigrate.
Oakland, the terminus of the new transcontinental railroad, exploded in population between 1868 and 1880.
Caring for the young and poor children of the industrial revolution.
San Leandro was founded as a Spanish land grant in 1842.
Founded in 1864, shortly after San Leandro became a city.
Pastors served the Portuguese with the assistance of Portuguese-speaking assistants.
Vatican II had profound repercussions in immigrant communities.
A new church serving the Portuguese of Jingletown.
Established at the village called Oroyson in 1797.
Birth of Holy Spirit Church in Fremont.
Building the new church was a parish effort.
Initially a mission of St. Leander's Church.
Originally a mission of St. Joseph Church
Established as a Portuguese National Church.
Reverend Baptiste began his ministry to the Portuguese in Hilo, Hawaii.
The “chicken with the golden egg.”
Portuguese immigrants adapted to life on the river.
The Portuguese settlements around Sacramento were well established by the 1880s.
Built a considerable distance back from the levee on flat land.
St. Mary Church is the former Associação do Divino Espírito Santo Hall.
Founded as a Portuguese National Church.
Blessed with wonderful successors to Father Azevedo.
Stemming from a one-time festival fundraiser for a Madeiran monument.
Organizations around the world honor the Miracle of Fátima.
"Miracle" in a small, quiet agricultural community.
Churches sprang up wherever Portuguese immigrants settled in California.
Portuguese were attracted to the fertile land and climate of the Pajaro Valley.
Half Moon Bay was originally known as San Benito and then renamed Spanishtown.
In 1870, Archbishop Alemany blessed the new church building with the name of St. Anthony.
St. John the Baptist Church was built on donated land in 1870.
Dedicated to Queen St. Isabel of Portugal at the request of the Freitas Family.
A church was built and a town sprouted around it.
Holy Ghost Mission is "a unique gem in the Pacific".
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