The University of Massachusetts Lowell Saab-Pedroso Center for Portuguese Culture and Research and the Center for Lowell History, in partnership with the Lowell National Historical Park, are organizing the Community Exhibit ‘Young Portuguese Immigrants in Turn of the Century Lowell, Massachusetts.’
The exhibit is funded by a $5,000 grant from Mass Humanities, the state affiliate of the NEH. Other partners in the 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 main objective of the exhibit is to engage the general public and “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.”
The exhibit is inspired by the recent discovery of an extraordinary archive of early 20th century “proof of age” immigration documents (letters, passports, photos, visas) in Lowell’s City Hall attic. The Exhibit Team of researchers, comprised of Martha Mayo, Frank F. Sousa, UMass Lowell History major Mark Rozzo, Paula Rioux, and David Blackburn of the National Park, will use 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 artifacts, have resulted in dozens of 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.
The opening, scheduled for April 18, 2015, at 2pm, at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum, includes a lecture by Dr. Paula Rioux, teacher of History at UMass Dartmouth, followed by a reception. The event is free and open to the public.