Do You Need A Copy of an Entry in Portuguese Hawaiian Memories?

I learned this week that the Portuguese Genealogical Society of Hawaii no longer has copies of the book Portuguese Hawaiian Memories for sale.

Did you know that the book has been indexed by some wonderful volunteers and can be found on my website,    You’ll find the indexes divided by island under Portuguese Hawaiian Memories.

If you are not familiar with the book, there are many brief biographies of Portuguese people living in the Hawaiian Islands ca. 1930.  Most entries include the names of parents and children, birth place, and other tidbits like occupation.  Some biographies have a photograph as well.

The book is indexed by name of the main person in the biography.  The indexes on give the person’s parents names, spouse’s name, and the spouse’s parents’ names.

I have a copy of the book and will copy any entry for a $3 fee (this helps pay for  Please see the link above for information on how to order a copy from me.  (Please do not leave your request in the comments to this blog as I may not see them or have a way to respond to you directly.)


Problem with Names Part 3: Well, We Never Called Her That

Researchers usually don’t get very far before they find an ancestor who seems impossible to find. Many times this is because they are used to calling their ancestor by a certain name when, in fact, they were named something else. Names evolve, shorten, and modernize over time. Taking an ancestor from what everyone called them to the name on the birth certificate can be a real challenge.

One of the frustrations when dealing with names is that evolve over time. The old forms transform into new forms. Common transformations like Mary for Maria, Joao for John, Tony for Antonio are easy to figure out. Others take a little time to solve. Sometimes it isn’t easy to determine what the original form of a name might have been. Researchers tend to have mental blocks when it comes to names. Some have difficulty accepting that Grandma Elsie was originally Arsenia (no one ever called her that!) They may discredit any record not using the name form that they know. Keep in mind that variations affect surnames as well as given names.

There are a couple of reasons why variations exist. First, when immigrants came to America it was common for records to contain Anglicized forms. The person writing down their information may not have been able to spell their names or perhaps didn’t speak the same language.

Second, your ancestor may have wanted to fit in his or her new community and country. They may have wanted an American sounding name. Or, it may have been the next generation. Often, the children of immigrants wanted to distance themselves from their parent’s generation, so they changed their names to blend in.

Second, people were known by shortened forms or pet names. Just like today, they endeared their loved ones and friends with special names. Many forms used a century ago are still in existence today. Joao might be called Johnny, Margarida might be called Maggie or Rita. Some forms have faded away as pet names lose their popularity and new ones spring up. In some cases a pet name can refer back to many different names, so be careful about making assumptions.

Here are some examples of names that I’ve found in records or were told to me by cousins:

Given names:

Adelaida: Ida
Agostinho, Augusto: Gus; August
Alexandrinha: Shandra; Sandra
Angelina: Angie; Gina; Lena
Amelia: Emily
Antonio: Antone; Tony
Apolniaro: Pete
Arsenia, Arcenia: Elsie
Carolina: Carrie
Delphina: Del; Delia
Deniz: Dennis
Georgina, Jorgina: Jean; Georgia
Gloria: Glory
Guilherme: William; Whilhelm; Willie
Isabella: Belle; Bella
Jacinta: Jessie
Jacinto: Jacinth; Jesse; Jess
Jaime, Jayme: James; Jimmy
Joao, Joaquim: John; Johnny
Jose: Joe; Joseph
Louisa: Lucille; Lucy
Margarida: Margaret; Maggie
Maria: Mary; Mamie
Olivia: Ollie
Ricardo: Ricky; Richard
Theodoro, Teodoro: Ted
Theresa, Threza: Daisy
Tomaz: Thomas; Tommy
Wilhelmina, Philomena, Guilhermina: Minnie


Andrade: Andrews
Camara: Cambra
Correia: Corea; Corrie; Corry
Dias: Days
Freitas: Frates
Jordao: Jordan
Luiz: Lewis; Louis
Marques: Marks
Mello/Melo: Mellow; Mell
Perreira: Perry; Peary
Quintal: Kintara
Teixeira: Terceira; Tachera

There is an excellent list on the web for Anglicized Portuguese names reprinted from Carlos Almeida’s “Portuguese Immigrants”. It can be found at: Anglicized Name List at

© 2002-2010 Melody Lassalle


The Problem with Names Part 2: Latinization

For many early Portuguese immigrants to Hawaii, their main contact outside of the plantation was through the local Catholic Church. For many genealogists, church records may be the only way to identify links back to the “old country”. When researching, you must be aware of the many name variations or you may miss your ancestors.

One problem exists with Catholic Church records–they’re written in Latin. Like most, my knowledge of Latin is limited to the study of word origins in a High School English class. However, it isn’t too difficult to pick out the important details within records. Knowledge of other church records can help with the translation.

The problem is that the names have been latinized. This creates a challenge for researchers as they must now consider another form of your ancestor’s name when doing research. There seems to be disparity between which form of the name is used. Some records have the Latin form, some the Portuguese, and some a jumble of forms. The practice varies from church to church and from Priest to Priest. Those who used the Latin form usually only applied it to the bride and groom’s names. It is more predominant in pre-1900 records.

It is interesting to note that these Latin variations made their way into the civil records. Since many of the first two generations came primarily as laborers, it is probably a good guess that they could not read or write. While I am unsure of the record filing process, my guess is that couple took their marriage certificate when they went to have the event record in the civil registers. Because of the language barriers throughout Hawaii, they would hand the certificate to the person recording records. This person then copied names exactly as they saw them. What difference was it to them if a person was Maria or Mariam, Jose or Hoses?

Here are some examples of names found in church records. Spellings may vary from accepted forms. It is possible in some cases, the Priest was not writing the Latin form. He may have been trying to make sense of the Portuguese accent.

Alexandrina–Luxandrinham, Sandrina
Antonio–Antony, Antonius
de Braga–Dobrado
Francisco–Franciscum, Franciscus
Jacinto–Hyacintho, Hyacinthus
Joao–Johannen, Joannes
Jose–Josias, Hoses
Maria–Mariam, Mariana
Souza–Soso, Sosa, Suza
From the Archives
Copyright 2009 – Melody Lassalle – All Rights Reserved