The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (UMD) has announced the addition of 14 Portuguese-language newspapers published in California from 1855–1940 to its Portuguese-American Digital Newspaper Collection.

As part of a collaborative project with the special collections J.A. Freitas Library, which is a special collections library owned and operated by the Supreme Council of P.F.S.A. in California who provided the original newspapers.

The unique collection was digitized to safeguard the integrity of the historical documents using a patented process that optimizes both the text and illustrations.

This is an amazing resource for the study of the Portuguese-American experience. As in all things genealogy, in the past researchers had to travel to view the various archives and spend hours researching paper sources and microfilm and it’s now available online free of charge.

The Portuguese played a major role in California agriculture, especially in the dairy industry so the collection is of great value to the understanding of the state’s history and economy.

These newspapers kept Portuguese-Americans informed about local, national and world news. They played a role in documenting social events and day-to-day activities, such as religious festivals, club activities, photographs, drawings. All of these elements of everyday life give historians a window to the past and the contribution given by Portuguese immigrants to the American experience.

Besides keeping Portuguese Americans informed about local, national, Portuguese and world news, these newspapers also played a major role in documenting social events and life. Religious festivals, club activities, charity appeals, and visits of prominent individuals were regularly announced; weddings, births and deaths reported; and news of the arrival and departure of vessels bringing new immigrants or taking them back to their homeland were featured, along with the respective passenger lists.

Photographs, drawings, advertisements and editorials give us a window into period fashions, patterns of consumption, the cost of goods, types of businesses owned by the Portuguese and the perspectives of this ethnic group on the political and social issues of the times.

If you’d like to access the newspapers free of charge click on Portuguese-American Digital Newspaper Collections.

To read the announcement click on SouthCoastToday.com

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