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“The UIS Archives, including the Illinois Regional Archives Depository (IRAD) located here, contains many valuable collections of primary resources relating to local history, including records of the unique Portuguese community that settled in Springfield from 1849 onward. Although their story and contributions to the area are unfamiliar to many, their descendants are still with us today.”

Thomas J. Wood, University Archivist



Portuguese History in Springfield, IL

An interactive feature that spotlights historical records about Portuguese history in Springfield, Illinois , with resources from the UIS Archives/Special Collections.

Mae Tuttle(Portuguese Family)

1. Mae Tuttle

This is a small portion (9 min 36 sec) of a tape recorded interview conducted by Gary Strohm for the Oral History Office in the fall of 1985. Tuttle, a Springfield native, discusses her family’s Portuguese heritage and history in this clip.

Mae Tuttle was born in Springfield, IL on May 31, 1906. She traces her family to the Portuguese people who came from the Madeira Islands to settle in Springfield in 1849.

Find more about Mae Tuttle on the UIS Archives website »

Gouveia Farm and Vineyard

The land holdings of the Madeirans who settled in Sangamon County, Illinois, are also illustrated in an 1874 county land ownership atlas. Among the illustrations is the farm of one of the more prosperous Madeirans, Emanuel Gouveia. His land holdings, comprising 400 acres, were located six miles north of Springfield, the county seat and Illinois state capital.

2. Reverend Michael Maietta

This is a small portion (6 min 43 sec) of a tape recorded interview conducted by John Eucari for the Oral History Office on October 20, 1972. In this clip Reverend Maietta discusses the Portuguese people who immigrated to Springfield and his experience becoming a pastor of their church.

Rev. Michael Maietta was born in Avella, Italy on September 29, 1898. He came to Springfield in 1922 to work at the Washington Street Mission.

Find more about Reverend Maietta on the UIS Archives website »

Portuguese Presbyterian Church in 1890

Shelby Vasconcelles

3. Shelby Vasconcelles

These are two small portions (7 min 14 sec, and 6 min 12 sec) of a tape recorded interview conducted by Kitty Wrigley for the Oral History Office in March, 1979. Shelby discusses the Portuguese community in Jacksonville, Illinois in the clip.

Mr. Vasconcelles was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1909. He learned to operate a telegraph as a young man and continued in this career for several years. He took a job with the Illinois Department of Public Welfare and was called upon to do some press work during special sessions of the legislature, which eventually led to a lifetime career with the press at the Illinois State Capitol.


Find more about Shelby Vasconcelles on the UIS Archives website »

4. David DeVares

David A. DeVares came to Sangamon County in 1861. His father and mother, John and Mary Alvies DeVares, were natives of the Madeira islands and came to America with a large colony from the islands, who had embraced the gospel during the labors of Rev. Robert R. Kalley, missionary from Scotland to the islands.

On the 10th of October, 1866, Mr. DeVares was married, by the Rev. A. De Mattos, to Miss Mary Nunes. Miss Nunes and her parents were natives of Madeira islands.

Mr. and Mrs. DeVares

Read more about David DeVares on Rootsweb »

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Find more information about the Portuguese immigration stories involving a group of religious exiles from Madeira on the Library of Congress website »

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