Portuguese American Journal

Community: Saab Center for Portuguese Studies awarded $300,000 Grant – UMASS, Lowell, MA

The Saab Center for Portuguese Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell,  has been awarded a second $300,000 grant from the William M. Wood Foundation of Boston to expand the collections of the Portuguese American Digital Archive (PADA) at UML’s University Library (Center for Lowell History).

Thanks to the first award from the Wood Foundation in 2020, the PADA project was launched, in partnership with library/archival partners in Lowell, Lawrence, Hudson, and Gloucester, and now contains 34 collections and over 3,000 photographs and documents, as well as film and audio recordings.

This second grant will permit the continued documentation of the Portuguese American experience in these four communities, as well as expand our efforts into Peabody and Cambridge, both containing sizable Portuguese populations.

Since its inception, the PADA Project has included on its team archivist Nicole “Nikki” Tantum, historian Dr. Gray Fitzsimons, archivist Tony Sampas, Saab Center director Dr. Frank Sousa, and Carolyn Brooks, Director of Development in UMass Lowell’s College of Fine Arts Humanities, and Social Sciences. To explore the PADA collections and learn more about the project visit https://www.uml.edu/research/pada/.


Massachusetts is home to a vibrant Portuguese community with a rich history dating back to the 19th and 20th centuries, particularly in cities known for their history of immigration.

Many Portuguese immigrants were drawn to Massachusetts in pursuit of employment and economic opportunities within the industrial and fishing industries, primarily in cities such as Fall River and New Bedford, where they established community support networks and organizations, leaving an imprint on the state’s cultural diversity.

Lowell is another city where the Portuguese community played a significant role in shaping the local fabric. Beyond these prominent cities, the Portuguese community has also left its mark in various other Massachusetts cities and towns, including Provincetown, Lawrence, Hudson, Gloucester, Peabody, Cambridge, Ludlow and Chicopee, adding to the rich tapestry of the state’s cultural landscape.

The Portuguese language is the third most commonly spoken language in Massachusetts, trailing only behind English and Spanish. In terms of ancestral ties, nearly 308,000 individuals of Portuguese descent are reported to reside in Massachusetts, constituting a substantial 4.6% of the state’s population.

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