Until the 1960s, the nation’s major archival institutions held few collections dedicated to America’s rich ethnic and cultural diversity. Struggles for civil rights and efforts to eradicate social and economic inequality, joined with a growing interest in the history of ethnic minorities, immigration, and diasporic refugees, prompted a number of archives to become more inclusive and expand their holdings. This movement led to hundreds of new collections connected to particular ethnic minorities and to the establishment of new archival centers that specialized in subjects tied to race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexual identity.
UMass Lowell's Portuguese American Digital Archive follows in the tradition of an archive devoted to a particular ethnic and cultural group, and concentrates on collecting and preserving archival resources associated with Portuguese communities in the Greater Boston Area.  And PADA’s collections reveal the many ways in which generations of Portuguese shaped the region’s culture and society, documenting the struggles and achievements of individuals, families, and organizations. While PADA focuses on the various facets of Portuguese communities and culture, it also seeks to foster a greater understanding of the immigrant experience in the United States.

PADA Collections

PADA collects a wide variety of resources from individuals, families, businesses, social clubs, parishes, and civic, political, community and cultural organizations. 
These resources include letters, diaries, and other unpublished writings and personal papers; photographs, motion pictures (film, video tape, a digital recordings), and audio recordings); governmental and other official documents; newsletters, flyers, brochures, and other ephemera; business ledgers, trade union documents, and parish records; and other print material, notably Portuguese-language newspapers and periodicals. 

Priorities of Materials We Collect

Although PADA accepts a wide range of materials pertaining to Portuguese history and culture in the region, we are especially interested in resources connected to first- and second-generation Portuguese-American experiences from the following eras:
  1. “The Pioneer Generation,” which includes the earliest Portuguese immigrants who settled in this region, and their offspring, (late 18th century – 1870s)
  2. “The First Wave of Immigrants,” which accounts for the largest numbers of Portuguese immigrants, from mainland Portugal and the Atlantic Islands, and their offspring, (1880s-1940s) 
  3. “The Second Wave of Portuguese Immigration,” (1950s-1980s) which began exclusively from the Azores in the wake of the Capelinhos volcanic eruption on the island of Faial.

Who is PADA for?

PADA’s archival collections are not only for students, educators, researchers, and members of Portuguese communities in the region and throughout the nation, but for all of the general public in the U.S. and throughout the world interested in Portuguese immigrants and their descendants, particularly in the Greater Boston Area.