Oliveira Family Photograph Collection [c. 1915-1989]

Dublin Core


Oliveira Family Photograph Collection [c. 1915-1989]


1915-1989 circa


The Oliveira family were well known within the Portuguese community in Lowell, MA for their involvement in the music and religious scenes. This collection includes items from the family's personal life as well as many images of their musical performances at local events and on the local radio.

Biographical Note:
Born on the island of Madeira, Abel Oliveira (1888-1951) immigrated to the United States in 1915 at the age of 27 and settled in Bristol, Rhode Island, where he obtained a job in a shoe factory. Two years later his wife, Mary, and son Joseph (born 1913-1990), left Madeira and joined him in Bristol. Abel and Mary had another son, John, in Bristol, before moving to Lowell in the 1920s. Over the next several years they had five more children, Manuel, Antonio, George, James, and Esther, while living in several residences in Back Central. Abel worked for several years in one of the city’s textile mills, while Joseph and his younger siblings attended Lowell’s public schools. Abel was a prominent figure at St. Anthony's Church and was a member of the Holy Name Society. Guided by their father, a number of the Oliveira boys, including John, James, Anthony, and Manuel, formed a string orchestra, in which Abel performed and conducted. Abel died in 1951, leaving behind his wife, six sons, and a daughter.

The Oliveira boys were very prominent in the music scene in Lowell, MA. John Oliveira (1918-1967) eventually conducted the Oliveira orchestra and also conducted various Portuguese musicians performing live at WLLH on the Portuguese-American Radio Hour program. Jimmie, Manny, and their friend, “Happy” Volerio formed the Variety Trio and would play at many events and on local radio stations. The band consisted of Jimmie on mandolin, Manny on bass, and “Happy” on guitar. The Oliveira brothers also played with other local musicians such as Frank “Frankie” Ares and Paul Vee.


Lowell (Mass.)


Digital copies of these items are from the Oliveira family's personal collection. Donated by Dotty Oliveira McGarry, Sue Oliveira Witts and Joanne Oliveira Wonson.


UMass Lowell, Center for Lowell History


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