Portuguese Genealogy

Professional Services

Doug da Rocha Holmes





in lace









Doug da Rocha Holmes used to teach Portuguese genealogy classes once or twice each year for people in the Sacramento region. And many people from the San Francisco Bay area made the two-hour drive to attend these popular workshops. Unfortunately online classes to people further away weren't available at the time. Mr. Holmes is a specialist in Azorean genealogy, but is not limited to that. In fact, the procedures used in Azorean genealogy apply in the mainland and other places where there are Catholic records in the Portuguese language. No new workshops are scheduled due to the lack of time these days

In his 24-page booklet, Portuguese Genealogy Syllabus , Holmes describes his fee schedule and other relevant information:

Admittedly, genealogy research in records of Portugal is not always an easy task. The most common complaint is that the handwriting is too difficult to read. This is usually because the person is not familiar with reading something written in the Portuguese language. But even people who are fluent in the language will take one look at these records and become mentally defeated. Or the abbreviated words and names are too much to cope with.

In an effort of encouragement, it should be known that I had only a smattering of 8th grade Spanish when first efforts to read these records took place in 1991. But with perseverance, patience and a good dictionary, the ability to read even the most difficult records has been achieved. All this, with no outside help. So if the desire is there, so will come the ability.

But perhaps time or eyesight is a large factor and the desire to learn of one's ancestry is great enough to ask for professional help. In such a case, it should be known that my own services and expertise can be tapped for a reasonable fee.

I can be hired in one of two ways:

1. Hiring by the hour at a rate of $60 can result in one or two records such as baptism and/or marriage being discovered. Oftentimes, three records can be found in one hour, but making the photocopies will take more time. Note: Sometimes, it takes more than one hour to find a single record, and it could take several hours. This hourly rate applies to all areas, whether the U.S., Portugal, Brasil, etc., except for Terceira and Pico, Azores. There is a minimum of 3 hours required to begin research.

2. Paying at a rate of $60 per record. This second method applies to those people whose ancestors are from the islands of Terceira and Pico where I usually do my own research. Because I usually enter the records of my ancestral villages into my computer database, I have built a considerable collection of baptisms and marriages in many of these parishes. Since there is no time factor for research on Terceira and Pico, it is easier to predict the final costs of research for any ancestor. Many times I already know all the ancestors requested, so there is no way to calculate a time factor, thus the fixed rate of $60 per record.
For people who know their ancestor came from Pico or Terceira, but don't know the correct parish, there is a $300 minimum start fee which includes finding the correct village and providing 1 document for such as a baptism or marriage, for $300.
For people who know the correct parish where their ancestor was born or married, the minimum fee to start research is $180 which includes finding 3 documents such as baptisms and marriages.

My eventual goal is to completely extract the information from all these parishes on Pico & Terceira and publish volumes on marriages and baptisms. This will permit me to later complete a volume for each village on the genealogies of each family in each parish. Admittedly, these are huge projects and will take many years. But in the meantime I can easily provide the data you're looking for if your ancestors are from these same villages. By just sorting through the information already in my computer, I can provide the answers. And if the time period of the record desired has not already been computerized, I can add in the requested data when I next look through records of any particular village.

The $60 fee per record is a complete transcription (or as good as the condition of the record allows), and an English summary. If a photocopy is desired, there is an additional fee of $60 per hour. So it is best to let them accumulate and request them all at once, or use the source quotations provided with each document to obtain copies on your own.

Other services include the obtaining of records on your behalf from the civil registry offices in Portugal. My fee for this is $65 (sixty five) each and you get a copy of the record they send. I also give a free summary of the main facts of the document in English, but not a full translation.

Translated documents from Portuguese to English are $60 per page. An alternative to this is a typed extraction of the original handwritten document, for people who can read Portuguese, which is also $60 per page.

Finally, it should be stated that if anyone turns out to be a distant cousin of mine, I will provide the names of the people (not the locations and dates) which shows this connection, free of charge. Hopefully, this will help induce others from my villages to contact me, as I'm always interested in hearing from people with common ancestral villages.

As of the date of writing this page, June 2010, each of these villages is at some level of completion of my computer extraction project. On Pico, Bandeiras, Lajes & Piedade  marriages are complete. Piedade has about 1,000 baptisms. São Roque do Pico has over 2,800 marriages and 1,750 baptisms. Marriages in Santo Amaro and Ribeiras, Pico are nearly complete. On Terceira, marriages in Altares, Doze Ribeiras, Serreta, São Bento, São Bartolomeu, São Mateus and Ribeirinha are nearly complete through 1911. Santa Bárbara, Terceira marriages are about 3/4 done. Others may have just a handful at this time. See the latest progress for Pico and Terceira marriage extractions at:

Pico         www.dholmes.com/pico-casamentos.html
Terceira www.dholmes.com/terceira-casamentos.html

Summary of services:

    1. $60 per hour in all locations except Terceira and Pico, with $180 minimum order.

    2. $60 per record on Terceira and Pico with no time factor, includes full transcription of document and English summary. Note 1: some Pico & Terceira documents cost more due to rarity and assessed value, but most are $60 each. Note 2: there are some cases where I can be hired by the hour on Pico or Terceira, but only when I don't already have all the documentation of a family. Most common is the case where you want to know all the siblings of your ancestor and I don't already know them. So for that I can be hired by the hour to find them. Note 3: If you don't already know the village on Pico or Terceira, the first record is $300 and the rest are $60.

    3. $60 per page translated into English or a typed Portuguese extraction.

    4. $60 per hour to make photocopies of any document, no matter where (including Terceira and Pico).

    5. $65 per document obtained by letter to Portugal, includes summarized translation into English.

    6. If you feel you must make telephone contact with me, the fee is also $60 per hour. For this reason it is always best to send a letter or email with the same information or questions so that I can fit it into my schedule.

Until a few years ago Doug da Rocha Holmes was a regular contributor to the well-known quarterly English-language newsletter called O Progresso by the Portuguese Historical & Cultural Society, of which he was also elected to serve on the board of directors starting in 2001. His genealogy articles have appeared in numerous other Portuguese newsletters and in the Portuguese language newspaper, The Portuguese Tribune in its English Section.

On the World Wide Web, there was a website established in February of 1996 for people in the U.S. interested in Portuguese-related topics and Holmes was asked to help run the genealogy area of LusaWeb. All his articles from O Progresso appeared there along with many other items of interest. That website was quickly outgrown later that year all those articles are listed and available to be ordered on this website.

One of the most exciting things to happen is the creation of the Portuguese Genealogist Master List, which offers to anyone who does Portuguese genealogy the opportunity to be listed as a researcher in each of their ancestral villages along with their surnames in an effort to network their efforts. For an example, click here to see the Madeira page or Pico. And since 1997 we have had the Portuguese Passenger Ship Master List which will eventually become of immense value as the project continues to expand.

In April 1997, there was another exciting development for California Portuguese genealogists. The Portuguese voters of 1872 in California is a list of all eligible to vote from all counties.


Not everyone wants to have a professional do their research, so Holmes offers consultations for $60 which will evaluate what you know and where next to look for documentation of ancestors.

Whether or not you hire a professional, you must supply this information about your ancestors before work can begin:

  • Complete name (maiden name for women).
  • A specific date such as birth, marriage, or death.
  • A specific location in Portugal.

Use this standard genealogy format to list ancestors. On each line, list the full name, date of birth, marriage and death, with locations. Give your best estimates for dates if you don't know them. So that you don't get the numbering mixed up, this graphic will help:

4. father of #2 8. father of #4 16. father of #8
17. mother of #8
2. your father 9. mother of #4 18. father of #9
19. mother of #9
5. mother of #2 10. father of #5 20. father of #10
21. mother of #10
1. you 11. mother of #5 22. father of #11
23. mother of #11
6. father of #3 12. father of #6 non-Portuguese
3. your mother 13. mother of #6 etc
7. mother of #3 14. father of #7 etc
15. mother of #7 non-Portuguese

(You will notice that you double the number for anyone and it gives you the number 
of that person's father. Add 1 and that is the number of the mother.)

You can omit the parents anyone who is not Portuguese, though it is still important to know the full name of the spouse of anyone who is Portuguese. For ease,  copy and paste into an email the above numbers 1-21 and just write the answers to the right side. Following this format will make it quite clear and understandable.

If you know the date of birth of your ancestor, you also must know the names of one or both parents because the baptisms (where births are recorded by the church) usually give only the first name of the child. Only in marriage and death records will the full name be mentioned.

If you don't know the exact village of birth, marriage or death, you will not be able to proceed with research. However, if you have narrowed it down to a single island, and that island does not have so many villages, there are cases where the records of birth, marriage or death have been found by checking the records of each and every village until the discovery is made. Most would consider this too large a task if you're dealing with a place like Madeira, S.Miguel, not to mention mainland Portugal or Brasil.

If you don't know where your ancestors came from, you are not ready for Portuguese research and must spend your time using the U.S. resources which will tell you the information you seek. This information can found with the help of the Portuguese Genealogy Syllabus.

A family tree should be included with any initial correspondence in order to speed up the process of determining where to begin.

Anyone wishing to have their Portuguese ancestry fully researched, or just enough to get it jump-started can contact:

Doug da Rocha Holmes

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Useful Links for the Portuguese Genealogist: www.dholmes.com/links.html

Go to the Portuguese Genealogy Home Page
Click here to find out more about the next: Portuguese Genealogy Workshop

Check out the latest status on the Portuguese Passenger Ship Master List.

Visit the Portuguese Gift Shop where one can find great gift ideas.
See personal information about Doug da Rocha Holmes

See a collection of references, compiled by Cheri Mello
available to the Portuguese genealogist interested in doing research in the Azores Islands 
Genealogical Resources For Researching In The Azores, Portugal

Portuguese voters of 1872 in California.  

If you know your ancestor was naturalized and eligible to vote by 1872 in California (all counties), 
look over this database to help you find your ancestor's origins. Go to the 1872 Portuguese Voters page.

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