GENEALOGY:   HOW TO TRACE YOUR FAMILY TREE

by James J. Lopes


ge-ne-al-o-gy (jen-i-al-a-ji)
n. a record of a family from an ancestor, a family history.



What makes Cape Verdean genealogy special?
  1. Cape Verdean-Americans are the only group of Americans who can readily and easily trace their ancestry back to Africa, back to the very towns and villages of their ancestors.

  2. Virtually every Cape Verdean-American family tree is multi-racial, and multi-cultural, and has roots and branches in Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America.

  3. The Cape Verdean-American family experience gives keen insights into multiculturalism and a race-blind world.


I. Why study your family history?

  1. To learn about your family.
  2. To learn about yourself.
  3. To learn about the World and its history.
  4. It is interesting.
  5. It is fun.

    II. Where do you find information?

    1. Ask your family. Start with your parents, then ask your uncles and aunts. Ask your grandparents. Ask your cousins.

    2. Questions to ask:
      1. Who are their parents?
      2. When were they born?
      3. Where did they live? What did they do for work?
      4. What did they do for fun?
      5. What was it llike for them at your age?

    3. Ask your church record keepers.
    4. Use the library. Read.
    5. Look at family records.
    6. Check government records: census, military, citizenship and naturalizations, birth and death records.
    7. Don't be afraid to share information: you may find that you are cousins.


    III. REMEMBER: Your family tree begins with you.


    NOTES ON CAPE VERDEAN GENEALOGY

    Be sure to check possible variations on the name of the person you are researching. Names were altered, Anglicised, or just changed for many different reasons: assimilation, easier pronunciation, simplifying compound names, etc. Some of them will surprise you.

    Spelling variations, examples:

    Sylvia, DaSylvia, Silva, DaSilva, daSilva, Silver, Andrews, Andrade, de Andrade Rodrigues, Roderigues, Roderick, Rodericks, Rogers, Rodgers, Rodricks Pina, Pena, DePina, DePena, Depina, Depena, Penha, Depenha Garcia, Graca, DaGraca, Grace Gilbert, Gilmette, Guilbert, Guilmette Gibau, Gibeau, Gibault, Guibault Britto, Brito, DeBritto, DeBrito Goncalves, Gonsalves, Gonsales Rosario, Rozario, Rose, Rosa, Rose, do Rosario, do Rosario, da Rosa Crus, DaCruz, Dacrus, Cruise, Crews, Barros, DeBarros, deBarros, Barrows, Costa, daCosta, DaCosta, LaCosta, Koster, Lima, Lema, Oliver, Oliveira, Olliviere

    Anglicised names:

    Fermino = Freeman, Pedro = Stone, Pereira = Perry, Meireilles = Morris, Leitao = Leighton ,Andrade = Andrews, Conceicao = Conception

    Compound Names:

    The family Ramao do Cantu may be either Raymond or Canto. The Freitas-Coelhos may be either Freitas, or Coelhos. The Lopes Da Silvas may be Lopes, Silva, or Da Silva or any variation thereof


    RESOURCES FOR CAPE VERDEAN GENEALOGY

    The following are libraries, collections and archives that are very useful for searching the Cape Verdean family tree. They are best utilized after you have started your basic research with you relatives and have reviewed family records. Once you have noted birth, marriage, and death dates for your immediate family and your immediate relatives, the search to fill out your tree has begun and you are ready for serious research.


    Mr. Paul Cyr, Curator
    Genealogical Resources
    New Bedford Free Public Library
    Buttonwoood Park Branch
    745 Rockdale Avenue
    New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740

    This is the most comprehensive collection of documents pertaining to the history and arrival of Cape Verdean immigrants in the last 125 years. Here one can find microfilmed passenger lists and the names of the actual ships that these immigrants arrived on in the Port of New Bedford. New Bedford was the Ellis Island for Cape Verdeans, along, to a lesser extent, with the ports of Providence and Boston. If your family arrived before 1920, the record of their arrival should be here. If you are descended from whalers, you will fmd here records of the actual voyages of the Cape Verdean whalers.


    ARQUIVO HISTORICO NACIONAL
    C.P. 321
    Praia, Santiago
    Republica de Cabo Verde

    For a fee the government of Cape Verde will research birth records in the Islands. The older records are held in the National Archives and are no longer kept by the Churches. Be patient and hope for the best. I did and someone in Cape Verde searched for and found my great-grandmother's birth record in Brava in 1854!

    Click here for the form developed by the staff at the Cape Verdean National Archives to be used when requesting genealogical information in Cape Verde.


    Old Dartmouth Historical Society
    New Bedford Whaling Museum
    New Bedford, MA 02740

    The Library at the New Bedford Whaling Museum has hundreds of logbooks from actual whaling voyages. If you are lucky you may even fmd a microfilm of the actual whaling log book of the voyage that brought your ancestors to America...and even see how much they got paid.


    Office of the City Clerk
    City Hall
    William Street
    New Bedford, Massachusetts

    Birth and marriage records are available through 1910 for family members. All death records are available. Birth, marriage, and death records bear very useful information: parents names, addresses, dates, birthplaces. If your family arrived in the 1800's there is probably a birth, marriage or death record in New Bedford City Hall.


    Head of Archives
    Supreme Judicial Court
    Archives and Records Preservation
    1300 New Court House
    Boston, Massachusetts 02108

    At the National Archives you will find copies of all citizenship applications. If you know the date that an ancestor applied for citizenship, or the number on his certificate of citizenship, you can find very helpful information here: like the name of the ship they arrived on and the actual day that they arrived in America.


    Library
    The Rhode Island Historical Society
    121 Hope Street
    Providence, Rhode Island 02906

    Passenger Lists for the Port of Providence are available here.


    Special Collections
    James Adams Library
    Rhode Island College
    Providence, Rhode Island

    The Cape Verdean collection here is the most extensive collection of general information on Cape Verdeans in the United States. It is another good starting point for someone getting started in genealogy. There are back issues of Cape Verdean community newspapers here. Obituaries are a great source of family information.


    American-Portuguese Genealogical and Historical Society
    PO Box 644
    Taunton, MA 02780

    This organization does not keep records of Cape Verdean Genealogy. However, the history of the Portuguese and the Cape Verdeans in America is so intertwined that their records can in fact be useful, especially cemetery records.


    © 1995 James J. Lopes - Jlopes1@aol.com


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