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.

Capelinhos History

The island of Faial, one of the nine islands of Azores, was discovered in 1427.

Capelinhos Eruption

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.

Capelinhos Lighthouse

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.

Capelinhos Devastation

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.

Capelinhos Diaspora

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.

Life in the Old Country

Portugal has long been a land of assimilation as well as emigration.

Portuguese 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.

Portuguese U.S. Immigration

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.

Timeline of World Events

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.

The Hawaiian Connection

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

Portuguese Emigration to Hawaii

Poor economic conditions forced emigration from the Azores and Madeira

The Long Voyage to Hawaii

From 1878 through 1913, Portuguese emigrants voyaged to Hawaii in search of a better life.

The Journey of the Thomas Bell, Part 1

João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell. Part 1

The Journey of the Thomas Bell, Part 2

João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell. Part 2

The Journey of the Thomas Bell, Part 3

João Baptista d’Oliveira chronicled his voyage on the Thomas Bell. Part 3

Life on a Hawaiian Plantation

Working on a plantation was difficult and demanding, with conditions varying from one plantation to another.

Becoming Portuguese-Hawaiian

To further their assimilation, the Portuguese set aside the language and culture of Portugal.

The da Gama Family Voyage to Hawaii

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.

From Hawaii to California

Through communication with Portuguese in California, many of the original immigrants to Hawaii became convinced that there were better economic opportunities in California.

Portuguese Americans in the Armed Services

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.

Revolutionary War Era Immigration

Many Portuguese Jews fleeing the Inquisition found their way to America in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Support for Independence

Many in the Portuguese Jewish community of New England supported and participated in the struggle for American Independence.

Revolutionary War Patriots

Portuguese immigrants served their adopted country.

Portuguese in the Civil War

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.

Whaling and the Civil War

Portuguese were on the front lines on land and at sea.

The Civil War Stone Fleet

The Union Navy blockaded Confederate harbors by sinking old whaling ships.

The Dabney Family -- Friends of the Azores

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.

Portugal and the U.S. Civil War

Though officially neutral, Portugal favored the Union in the U.S. Civil War.

Portuguese Civil War Veterans

Many Portuguese immigrants served in the U.S. Civil War, these being a few of the most notable.

Portuguese-Americans in WWI

Portuguese-Americans fought in WWI and supported the war effort financially.

WWI Impact on Fishing

Fishing fleets were German U-boat targets.

Portugal in WWI

Unlike other wars in which Portugal attempted to remain neutral, the Portuguese entered WWI when they declared war on Germany on November 13, 1914.

Portuguese WWI Veterans

Many Portuguese immigrants served the U.S. in WWI, these being a few of the most notable.

Portuguese-Americans in WWII

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.

Portugal in WWII

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.

Portuguese WWII Veterans

Many Portuguese immigrants served the U.S. in WWII, these being a few of the most notable.

The Korean War

Often referred to as "The Forgotten War", it has never been declared officially over.

Portuguese-Americans in the Korean War

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.

Portuguese Korean War Veterans

Many Portuguese-Americans served the U.S. in Korea, these being a few of the most notable.

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was America’s longest and most unpopular war of the 20th century.

Portuguese-Americans in the Vietnam War

Whether recent immigrants or already established in American life, Portuguese-Americans served with honor in Vietnam.

Portuguese Vietnam War Veterans

Many Portuguese-Americans served the U.S. in Vietnam, these being a few of the most notable.

Middle East Wars

U.S. Forces have been involved in the Middle East for decades.

Portuguese-Americans in the Middle East Wars

More assimilated than past generations that served in the U.S. Armed Services.

Portuguese Middle East War Veterans

Many Portuguese-Americans have served and are currently serving the U.S. in the Middle East, these being a few of the most notable.

Portuguese Heritage Society Veterans

Several members of our Board of Directors and their families have served in the U.S. Armed Services.

The Panama Canal

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.

Coming to California

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.

San Francisco -- Rising from the Ashes

Destroyed by earthquake and fire, San Francisco took just nine years to rebuild.

Building the Panama Pacific Exposition

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.

The Exposition and Portuguese Determination

Determined to have Portugal represented at the exposition, Portuguese-American immigrants joined together and ultimately sent a delegation to Portugal to present their case.

The Portuguese Presence at the Exposition

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.

Five Wounds Church -- The Bond

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.

The Alvernaz Family and Vasona Lake Park

José Alvernaz started Sun Ray Dairy in Los Gatos in 1933 and was a well-respected member of his community.

The Azevedos and the American Dairy Company

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.

The da Gamas of Hawaii and Santa Clara

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.

Anthony Maderis -- Portuguese Builder

Selling men's and boys' clothing into his late-30s, Anthony Maderis changed course to build homes instead.

The Rose Family in the Shadow of Mt. Hamilton

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.

The Santos Family of Alviso

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.

Nascimento, Avila and Pombinho Pioneer Families

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.

The Vieira Family on Communications Hill

José Azevedo purchased 96 acres in 1896 and four generations were living on the land by 1959.

Monsignor Henrique Augusto Ribeiro -- Founder

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.

Fr. Julio Augusto Martins

In seven short years, Fr. Martins retired the parish debt incurred in building the church while instituting new parish programs.

Fr. José António Ferreira Porto

Fr. Porto built a grand new rectory and hosted distinguished Portuguese visitors.

Fr. Mario Botelho Cordeiro

Fr. Cordeiro built Five Wounds Elementary School and Convent and tried to take over the I.E.S. Hall.

Fr. Raymond Thomas and Fr. Carlos Macedo

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.

Fr. Leonel Caldeira Noia

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.

Fr. António Alvernaz Silveira

Former long-time parishioner Fr. Silveira revitalized the parish after a decade of instability.

Macau's Early History

Macau was a port of refuge, fresh water, and food for merchant sailors until it was settled by refugees fleeing Mongol invaders in 1277.

Macau in the Age of Discovery

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.

Portuguese in East Asia

After decades of on again, off again relations with the Chinese, the Portuguese finally established a permanent, official trade base at Macau.

Macau's Golden Age

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.

Defending Macau

Facing threats from the English and Dutch, Macau needed to bolster its defenses against these rival countries.

Religious Activity in Macau

Jesuits, Dominicans, Franciscans and Augustinians arrived in Macau to convert the populations of China and Japan.

Macau's Struggle for Survival

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.

The Hong Kong Effect in Macau

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 During World War II

Macau provided refuge for those fleeing the advancing war.

Post-War Macau

Maintaining equilibrium between East and West, Macau blossomed in the latter half of the 20th century.

Macau's Transfer of Sovereignty

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's Recent History

Macau is much more than a gambling destination.

Early Occupations

Some Portuguese immigrants dreamed of gold, but reality set in and they turned to what they knew.

Occupations and Professions

From mom-and-pop storefronts to businesses with hundreds of employees, Portuguese immigrants realized their American dreams.

Agriculture and Fishing

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.

Manuel José de Arriaga Brum da Silveira

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

John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era.

Anthony Ferry

The City of Los Banos is tied to the legendary John Philip Sousa through the life of Anthony Ferry

Monsignor Henrique Augusto Ribeiro

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.

Madeira -- Introduction

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.

Madeira Discovery and Settlement

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.

Christopher Columbus in Porto Santo and Madeira

Columbus learned much about navigating the Atlantic from his stays in the archipelago.

The British in Madeira

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.

Madeira Geography & Geology

Located 280 miles from the African coast and 540 miles from the European continent, it's a 1.5 hour flight from Lisbon.

Levadas in Madeira

Originally built for agriculture, today levadas produce hydroelectric power too.

Madeira Ruled the Sugar Trade

Madeira was the center of the sugar trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.

Madeiran Emigration

Nature, politics and economics caused islanders to flee the archipelago.

Madeira -- Pearl of the Atlantic Today

Madeira today is a tapestry woven from its rich history and heritage.

The Power of the Spirit

Telling the story of the building of many of the Portuguese churches in California and of the people who built them.

Mary Help of Christians (Oakland)

Many Portuguese immigrants came to Oakland from Hawaii seeking a better life in the growing industrial town of Oakland.

Hawkinsville Assumption Church

By 1849, news of the gold strike in California had spread around the world.

Holy Spirit (Fremont)

One of the earliest Portuguese Churches in California is Holy Spirit Church in Fremont.