Dr. Manuel da Silva was born on September 5, 1926 in the village of Caviâo, Vale de Cambra in continental Portugal. After completing high school in Portugal, he emigrated to Brooklyn, New York with his mother and brother in January, 1946 to join his father, who was an American citizen. Young Manuel studied the English language intensively, and in 1948 he entered Washington Square College of New York University graduating with a biology degree in 1952. That year he returned to Portugal because of his father’s death and entered Coimbra University Medical School where he graduated with distinction in 1957. Dr. da Silva returned to the United States, did his internship at St. Luke’s Hospital, New Bedford, Massachusetts, and then completed his specialization in Internal Medicine for three years at Boston’s famous Lahey Clinic. In 1963, he became an Associate Member of the Bristol County Medical Center where he practiced Internal Medicine for four decades and became a distinguished member of the East Bay community.
On September 17, 1960 Manuel married Silvia Tavares Jorge, a school teacher. They have two sons, Manuel and José, and four grandchildren. He and Silvia reside on Brooks Farm Drive in Bristol.
In addition to his medical practice, for more than fifty years Dr. da Silva has been researching the history of Dighton Rock along the nearby Taunton River and the inscriptions thereon made by pioneer Portuguese navigator Miguel Corte Real in 1511. In 1971, he published Portuguese Pilgrims and Dighton Rock to document his assertions concerning the authenticity of these mysterious carvings. All told, he has published eight books and holds fourteen copyrights in the Library of Congress. In 2006, he and his wife Silvia co-authored Christopher Columbus was Portuguese! This book was adapted into a movie which won a gold medal at the International Film Festival in Venice, Italy in September, 2007.
Dr. da Silva has made many contributions of a cultural and a humanitarian nature to the local community. For more than four decades he has produced a weekly radio and TV program in English and Portuguese as a public service to inform the general public on medical issues. He has also directed local campaigns against cancer, heart disease, and polio. Over the years, Dr. da Silva has helped many newly-arrived immigrants adjust to American society and given them medical assistance, often not charging for his services. He is widely known as a lecturer on Portuguese history and culture.
With both perseverance and enthusiasm, Dr. da Silva and his wife encouraged good will on both sides of the Atlantic by founding two museums, one in America–Dighton Rock Museum–and the other in Portugal–Library-Museum Dr. Manuel Luciano da Silva– in the village where the doctor was born. Manuel and Silvia are the only two Portuguese immigrants ever to inspire in their lifetime the creation of two museums dedicated to the Portuguese diaspora.
– Halsey C. Herreshoff
– Roswell Bosworth, Jr.