|José Castro Portugal
Scientist, mineralogist and university professor
José Amadeu dos Reis Castro Portugal was born in 1870 in Vila Nova de Gaia, to a noble family.
He graduated in Mines and Industrial Engineering in Polytechnic Academy of Porto (1896). He performed the roles of Physics Demonstrator (appointed in 1901) and of Mineralogy Naturalist. In 1913 he was nominated extraordinary professor in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto, after submitting a dissertation entitled "Materials for the study of mineralogical wealth in the province of Trás-os-Montes" (1912) and a paper about "Tin mines in Caminha and Viana do Castelo".
In the Faculty of Sciences he taught the subjects of Mineralogy and Petrology, Mineralogy and Geology and the course of Crystallography and Physical Geography. His PhD in Historical-Natural Sciences was granted to him in 1918. He headed the Mineralogical and Geological Museum and Laboratory of the FSUP between 1926 and 1934 which followed the Mineralogy and Geology Office of the Polytechnic Academy. The activity developed in this Museum and Laboratory was decisive for the existing valuable collection of Portuguese Mineralogy, which then took the name of "Castro Portugal Collection".
In Portugal, he developed the study of Optical Mineralogy, was responsible for the acquisition of most of the school’s laboratory equipment, and developed projects of docimasy (science that determines the proportion in which metals exist in ores). He participated in the conferences of the Portuguese Association for the Progress of Sciences and he was associated to mineral companies in the north of the country, a geographic area where he also collected minerals and rocks.
An expert in agriculture, he invested in apiculture and animal farming; he was an awarded poultry farmer and he imported pigs and cows of several foreign breeds. He associated with several agricultural campaigns, established a factory of agricultural machinery in Vila Nova de Gaia and introduced row-seeding, the use of chemical fertilizers and the dairy industry.
José Castro Portugal contributed to the foundation of the Porto Horticultural Society (1898) and was a member of the Northern Agrarian League and the Animal Welfare Society. He installed Porto’s Regional Council of Agriculture and founded a practical school of Pomology and Horticulture.
A supporter of the monarchy, a practicing Catholic and a distinguished member of Porto society, he was a pioneer of bicycles, an enthusiast of horse riding and a participant in memorable cavalhadas [horse-riding parades].
He died in Vila Nova de Gaia on 4 December 1936.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2011)