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Portuguese Alliance Benevolent Association records

Identifier: MC-050

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of record books of minutes, membership, and disability payments. Also included are by-laws, some correspondence, booklets and pamphlets pertaining to the Annual Meeting, photographs, paintings, medals, commemorative items, and newspaper and magazine clippings.


  • 1924-2004

Conditions Governing Access

No known restrictions.

Biographical / Historical

The Portuguese Alliance Benevolent Association was incorporated in Fall River in 1924. Its purpose was to pay mortuary and disability benefits to those of Portuguese descent; membership was open to Portuguese men and women, their descendents, and spouses of members, all of whom were between 16 and 65 years of age at the time of acceptance into the Association. At the time of its incorporation, mortuary benefits were not to exceed $1,000, and disability benefits were not more than $10 per week. Fees and dues were charged based on the age of the member. Applicants were subject to a medical exam and an investigation of personal background. Members were elected by votes cast with black and white cubes; seven or more black cubes led to rejection of the application.

In 1945, the purpose of the Association changed to offer medical and hospitalization benefits, as well as mortuary and disability benefits. The Association operated under the auspices of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Banking and Insurance. There was a social aspect to the Association as well, in that it sponsored cultural events, parties, and trips to Portugal.

The Board of Directors consisted of the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Receiver. Additional officials were a Master of Ceremonies and an Internal Guard. Three elected members comprised the Financial Committee. Officers were elected to terms of one year.

The first slate of officers elected in 1924 was:

President: João Maria Cabral Vice President: Francisco P. Silva Secretary: Alberto Freitas Treasurer: Manuel Andrade Receiver: Lafayette Silva Oliveira Financial Committee: Jorge F. Machado Francisco Silva Honorato Pavão Reis Master of Ceremonies: João Pavão Internal Guard: José Vieira Mattos

Monies were divided into Mortuary, Disability, Expense, and Special Funds. Disbursement of disability funds required documentation of disabilities, and the Association placed restrictions on the activities of those receiving disability payments. Further, the Association would not pay benefits for a disability originating from intemperance, immoral behavior, or pregnancy. As part of the mortuary benefit, the Association sent flowers to be placed on the member’s coffin, and the President and three other officers attended a member’s funeral.

The Association’s first offices were located at 10 Bedford St., Fall River, moving to 324 Columbia Street in 1925, and later to various other locations in Fall River. Initial meetings were held the second and fourth Tuesday of every month, with the Board meeting weekly. Only Portuguese was spoken during meetings, and passwords were required to enter. Passwords were re-issued every six months.

Alberto Freitas, who was elected Secretary in the first slate of officers in 1924, served as President by 1930, and served until 1978, resigning for reasons of health. His daughter, Filomena Freitas Rezendes, herself a long-time Secretary since at least 1938, was elected President in 1978, and served in that capacity until at least 1999.

At its first meeting, the Association accepted 303 members, and had 2,662 active members by 1968. Total membership from 1924 to 2004 stands at 7,603. The Association occasionally failed to make quorum at its Annual Meetings, causing amendments to its by-laws to re-define a quorum. By the 1970s and 1980s, membership flagged and records were not as thorough. In 1985, only four new members were admitted. The Association was officially dissolved in 2004.


9 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes, 1 shoebox size, 1 oversize box, 25 oversize ledgers)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Alfredo Alves on behalf of the Association, August 9, 2004, Accession # 05-01.

MC 50, Portuguese Alliance Benevolent Association records
Maura McGurk
January 2006
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the UMass Dartmouth Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives Repository

Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Rd.
N. Dartmouth MA 02747 USA