Finding your Portuguese Roots_1a


Locating the Town by Tracing Through U.S. Resources

1. Charts and Forms 

You will need to keep pedigree or ancestor charts as well as family group sheets. Many genealogy programs can assist you with your organization. Some are free.


2. Collecting Information

You will need to interview any and all relatives: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. You will need to go back and reinterview them again (at a later date, of course!) Sometimes, you will ask something in an interview, and they will not remember. However, it will be enough to get the memory working, and your subject may remember something about that at a later date. You may wish to tape record these interviews and then transcribe them later, verbatim. Some techniques you may wish to use to jog your subject's memory are: world events (did that happen before or after World War II?) and "How old were you?" These seem to be particularly useful when the subject says, "I don't know. I don't remember."


3. Bibles 

If you are fortunate enough to have literate ancestors, don't overlook the family Bible. Dates and places may be recorded in the front or in the beginning of the New Testament. Make sure you copy the date from the front cover of the Bible. If the Bible is copyrighted 1954 and the dates written in the Bible are from the early 1900s, then you know that the dates were not recorded at the time of the event, but at sometime after. They are, therefore, relying on someone's memory, which may or may not be accurate.


4. Genealogical groups 

If descendants are still in an area with a high Portuguese population, you may want to check and see if a genealogical group in that area exists, and put a query into their newsletter. For example, in Fall River, MA, you may want to inquire if the Fall River Historical Society has a newsletter and put a query in it (looking for the parents of Jose Silva....). You can find this information by performing an Internet search or from Everton's "The Handybook for Genealogists", or "The Genealogist's Address Book." Both are probably available at your local library. Also, if you are researching in Hawaii, you may wish to join their genealogical group: The Portuguese Genealogical Society of Hawaii, Dan George Nelson, President, or call (808) 841-5044. Office hours are Monday 10a.m. - 1p.m, Wednesdays and Fridays 10a.m. - 3p.m. A newsletter used to be published 4 times a year and used to cost $10. They will accept your pedigree chart of your Portuguese lines.

5. County histories 

If your ancestors have been here a while, you may be able to find them in the index of a county history book. If you do find them in one, photocopy the page(s) that your ancestor appears on, and also the title and copyright date pages. You may also want to write down which library you got the book from. These county history books can be obtained from the LDS church, a local genealogical library, or the public library may have a few as well (the Los Angeles Public Library has a whole floor devoted to history and genealogy with books from all over the U.S.)

6. Documentation 

Documentation comes in 2 forms: primary and secondary.

  • a. Primary documentation  Primary documentation is something that is generated AT THE TIME OF the event, such as a death, marriage, or birth certificate. You need only 1 one of these to prove a date.
  • b. Secondary documentation Secondary documentation is something that is generated AFTER the event. You will need to get 2- 3 of these to agree with the date that you are trying to prove. Some secondary sources are: tombstones, family histories, delayed birth certificates, county histories, books of marriage records, federal and state censuses. Weak secondary sources are considered circumstantial evidence. 

    Note: Much of this information was obtained from a basic genealogy
    class that I took, as well as "Unpuzzling Your Past" by Emily Anne Croom.
© Kathy Andrade Cardoza 2022