Azores, Portugal Genealogy

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The Azores are a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, about 1,500 km (950 mi) from Lisbon.The nine major Azorean Islands and the eight small Formigas extend for more than 600 km, and lie in a northwest-southeast direction. All of the islands have volcanic origins, though Santa Maria also has some reef contribution. The mountain of Pico on Pico Island, at 2,351 m in altitude, is the highest in all of Portugal. The Azores are actually the tops of some of the tallest mountains on the planet, as measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean. [1]

[2]The westernmost islands in the group lie about 1200 miles from St. Johns, Newfoundland and about 2400 miles from the East Coast of North America.

They were discovered by the Portuguese in 1427 and the Portuguese began to settle there in 1439. Later, Flemish settlers came to the islands, as did Italians, Scots, English, Bretons, and some Jewish farmers. The Azores were occupied by Spain from 1580 - 1640 and used as a base for Spanish ships. There is a long naval history associated with the Azores Islands.

Long considered a colony of Portugal, the Azores became an autonomous or self-governing region of Portugal in 1976.

The Azores consist of nine inhabited islands – Santa Maria,Sao Miguel, Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo – and a number of smaller, uninhabited Isletas. One of the major record groups is church records. Microfilmed copies of the records of churches on each island are listed on the WorldGenWeb page for each island. Digital images of church records are also found in a website sponsored by the government of the Azores. There are some ships' passenger lists available on the Internet, as well as helps to write to government offices and archives on the island.

The records of the Azores are recorded in Portuguese, which is the language spoken on the islands. A Portuguese Genealogical Word List can help in the translation of words found in the records of the Islands.



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Parish Records and Passports

Many of the parish records for the Azores have been digitized and put online by the Azorean government. To view these images clic on the following link "Pesquisa de Registos Paroquiais". These records were recorded by the Catholic Church until 1911 when Civil Registration was established. Record types include baptisms/births, marriages, and deaths. They are organized by island, council, and parish. Before beginning your search, it would be very helpful to know which island and parish your ancestor was from.

Passports were issued by the Civil government. They originate from three places: Angra do Heroísmo (beginning in 1832), Horta (beginning in 1836), and Ponta Delgada (beginning in 1875, with some records missing). Beginning in 1917 the passports contained photographs. To view passport records click on "Pesquisa de Passaportes". Your ancestor may have lived on a different island but received his passport from one of these three islands.

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Featured Training Modules

See tutorials in FamilySearch Learning Center for "Reading Portuguese handwritten Records"