Sousa Mendes Foundation Launches Archival Management Project to Document and Preserve the Sousa Mendes Legacy

June 13, 2017



Rescuers stamp

Sousa Mendes visa in Dutch passport of refugee Annelies Kaufmann, courtesy of Rebel and Evie Good


The Sousa Mendes Foundation, based in Huntington, NY, has teamed up with the Palmer School of Library and Information Science at nearby Long Island University to process its significant collection related to the Sousa Mendes story.


Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the Portuguese Consul General in Bordeaux, France during the Second World War, rescued thousands of refugees escaping Nazi-occupied Europe in what has been termed by the Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.” The Foundation is providing the world with knowledge of this brave man’s good work while providing a rich educational experience for Palmer School students in the form of a highly sought after archival opportunity.


After being rescued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes in 1940, the visa recipients found safe havens all over the globe, including on Long Island. A number of them settled in Great Neck, and one family — the Royal Family of Luxembourg — resided on the Long Island University campus when it was still the “Hillwood” estate belonging to Marjorie Merriweather Post and E. F. Hutton. The Luxembourg Royal Family resided in the building that is now the school library.


The Sousa Mendes Collection includes original World War II passports with Sousa Mendes visas, other artifacts belonging to Holocaust refugees, First Edition refugee memoirs, newspaper clipping scrapbooks from the war period to the present, photographs, correspondence, audio-visual materials, and posthumous honors and awards given to Aristides de Sousa Mendes. The Collection includes the files of the International Committee to Commemorate Dr. Aristides de Sousa Mendes (active in the 1980s and 90s) and items from families rescued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes and his associates José de Seabra, Manuel de Vieira Braga and Emile Gissot. The materials are in Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, and Yiddish.


“Putting my skills and expertise towards increasing awareness and access to materials related to a subject as compelling as Sousa Mendes is not only exciting but a privilege,” said archivist Nicole Bubolo, an alumna of the Palmer School’s Master of Library Sciences graduate program. “The variety of materials in this collection certainly relates easily to the knowledge gained from the specializations and certificates I earned via the Palmer School,” she added.


For Barbara Boies, a current Palmer School graduate student, this project “allows me to practice the skills that I am learning while finishing my MSLIS degree at the Palmer School.” The Foundation’s collection relates to other important collections of World War II materials. “The scope of our work has also included research involving the discovery of missing correspondence with Eleanor Roosevelt in the archives of FDR’s presidential library,” she explained. Other members of the archive team include Olivia Mattis, Ph.D., President and COO of the Sousa Mendes Foundation; Robert Jacobvitz, Chair of the Foundation’s International Advisory Council; and archivist Scott Keefer, who holds an MA in public history from St. John’s University.


The Sousa Mendes Foundation actively seeks to add to the Sousa Mendes Collection. If you are in possession of family memoirs, artifacts, or passports connected to the exodus of 1940 through Portugal and the action of Aristides de Sousa Mendes or his associates José de Seabra, Manuel de Vieira Braga and Emile Gissot that you would like to donate, please contact us. Thank you!