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Exhibit on Portuguese in Early 20th-Century Lowell

Auxiliary Cultural Programs For:

The Lure of the Spindle: The Portuguese in early 20th Century Lowell

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

“Portuguese-Americans in a New England Mill Town: The Confessions of an Anchor Baby” George Monteiro, professor emeritus of English and Portuguese at Brown University

George Monteiro was born, raised, and educated in a down-at-the-heels New England mill town that had once prospered because of its textile mills. It was the possibility of work in those mills that attracted Portuguese immigrants, not knowing that the town was past its prime, that it had long since begun its economic and social decline. The speaker looks back on the lives of Portuguese-American mill workers in his family.

George Monteiro is the author, editor or translator of over 30 books, including most recently Robert Frost's Poetry of Rural Life (2015). Forthcoming are 38 School Street, about growing up Portuguese in Valley Falls, RI, and Poems in Absentia, a translation of Poemas Ausentes by Pedro da Silveira, one of the leading poets of the Azores, Portugal.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

“Growing Up Portuguese in Lowell,” a talk by five Portuguese-Americans (Kevin Correa, Richard DeFreitas, Bea Silva Hogan, John Leite, Herbert Pitta), whose family origins in Lowell harken back to early 20th century, when their ancestors immigrated in search of work in the textile mills and the American Dream. 

Exhibit on Portuguese in Early 20th-Century Lowell at Lowell National Historical Park, August 6 - December 1, 2015

Correa Manuel - baseballThe University of Massachusetts Lowell Saab Center for Portuguese Studies and Center for Lowell History, in partnership with the Lowell National Historical Park, hosted the opening of the Community Exhibit “The Lure of the Spindle: The Portuguese in early 20th Century Lowell” on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. Other partners in this project are the Tsongas Industrial History Center, the Lowell Historical Society, and the International Institute of New England, with additional documentation from the American Folklife Center and Saint Anthony’s Parish. The Community Exhibit is sponsored by Mass Humanities, the state-affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

picture just with the womenInspired by the recent discovery of an extraordinary archive of early twentieth-century “proof-of-age” immigration documents (letters, passports, photos, visas) in Lowell’s City Hall attic, the Exhibit Team—comprised of Martha Mayo, director of the UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History, historian Paula Rioux, David Blackburn of Lowell National Historical Park, UMass Lowell History major Mark Rozzo, and Prof. Frank F. Sousa, director of the Saab Center—used their recent research on the Portuguese community to form an outline for this Community Exhibit around broad themes: Immigration, Work, Recreation, Church, Family, and Neighborhood. These materials, combined with additional historical and contemporary collections of photographs, maps, atlases, city directories, school department reports, local newspapers, labor records, cultural and religious artifact, have resulted in individual and extended family stories revealing the challenges and opportunities and choices facing and made by young Portuguese immigrants and their families in the context of labor laws and education policies, areas in which Massachusetts was at the forefront of the American social contract.

picture with the two womenThis Community Exhibit and its auxiliary programs, including a panel discussion titled “Growing Up Portuguese in Lowell,” comprised of descendants of the first wave of Portuguese immigration to Lowell, enhanced visitors’ understanding of immigration to Lowell since the late nineteenth century. The exhibit engaged the general visitors to the museum and to reach the thousands of middle school and high school children attending Tsongas Industrial History Center workshops, while also welcoming immigrants and their descendants from the diverse neighborhoods of Lowell and elsewhere in the Merrimack Valley.

For more information, please contact Frank Sousa at 978-940-5199, Martha Mayo 978-934-4998, or David Blackburn at 978-970-5055. You may also visit the UMass Lowell Center for Lowell History and the Lowell National Historical Park