To stay or to migrate: siblings and life transitions in 19th century Ribeira Seca, Azores

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Although in Europe research into the life course of siblings began several decades ago, historical demography research in Portugal has lagged behind in this particular subject. The following paper is a first step towards better understanding the influence of sibling ties in 19th century Azores, through the analysis of a sample taken from the Ribeira Seca parish on the island of São Jorge. The sample corresponds to a selection of siblings born between 1820 and 1850. The primary data were obtained through parish records, but secondary sources such as libri status animarum, testaments, passport records and fiscal lists were also used to complement the main family database. By applying statistical methods, including a regression model, this paper aims to identify the degree to which sibling ties influenced important life decisions like migration and marriage. Three central questions guide our research: Were the eldest sons more prone to migrate? Did younger sisters have the same marriage opportunities as their siblings, or were they expected to stay at home to assist their parents? How did inheritance transmission patterns affect the siblings’ decisions? The results led to a redefinition of individual roles within the family circle. New perspectives were opened up on how and what decisions were taken in a 19th century Azorean community under the pressure of limited resources, inheritance patterns, marriage opportunities, and a strong call for migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-593
Number of pages26
JournalHistory of the Family
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2018


  • 19th century
  • Azores
  • Historical demography
  • Life courses
  • Marriage
  • Migrations
  • Portugal
  • Siblings


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