Guide to the Alberto F. Porta Papers, 1881-1990

Processed by University Archives Staff; machine-readable finding aid created by Anne McMahon
Santa Clara University Archives.
Santa Clara University Archives
500 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, California 95053
Santa Clara University. All rights Reserved.

Guide to the Alberto F. Porta Papers, 1881-1990

Collection Number: PP-Porta

Santa Clara University Archives

Contact Information

  • Santa Clara University Archives
  • 500 El Camino Real Santa Clara, California 95053
  • Phone: (408) 554-4117 Fax: (408) 554-5179
  • Email:
    • Processed by:
      University Archives Staff
      Date Completed:
      Encoded by:
      Anne McMahon
    © 2001 Santa Clara University. All rights reserved.

    Descriptive Summary

    Provenance: Santa Clara University Archives Santa Clara University
    Title: Alberto F. Porta Papers,
    Date: 1881-1990
    Repository: Santa Clara University Archives
    Santa Clara, CA 95053
    Extent: 1 linear foot
    Collection Number: PP-Porta
    Abstract: This collection documents a portion of the career of architect and professor Alberto F. Porta. Included in collection are clippings, correspondence, academic writings, newsletters, architectural drawings and photographs.
    Languages: [code "English," not found in ISO 639-2 list], and [code "Italian" not found in ISO 639-2 list].

    Administrative Information


    Santa Clara University permits public access to its archives within the context of respect for individual privacy, administrative confidentiality, and the integrity of the records. It reserves the right to close all or any portion of its records to researchers.
    The archival files of any office may be opened to a qualified researcher by the administrator of that office or his/her designee at any time.
    Archival collections may be used by researchers only in the Reading Room of the University Archives at the discretion of the archivist.

    Publications Rights

    Permission to copy or publish any portion of the Archives' materials must be given by the University Archivist.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Alberto F. Porta Papers, Santa Clara University. University Archives.

    Acquisitions Information

    Gift of Alberto Porta's granddaughters, Alma Porta Brennan and Catherine Porta Gilligan, in 1996. Accession Number 996-029.


    Alberto Francisco Porta, born in Mondovi, Italy in 1853, was a civil engineer and architect trained at the University of Turin. In 1894, at the request of the Guatemala government to serve as architect for the reconstruction of structures damaged by earthquakes and revolutions, Porta moved his family to Quesaltenango, Guatemala. The request to come to Guatemala was handled through the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). In Quesaltenango, Porta worked on rebuilding bridges and buildings.
    Due to political unrest and natural disasters, including earthquakes and the eruption of the volcano, Santa Maria, the Porta family immigrated to San Jose, California in 1901 with the help of Jesuit friends. Porta first came to San Jose alone to find work, then sent for his family. Through Jesuit connections, Porta was hired at Santa Clara College in 1907 to teach Mechanics, Descriptive Geometry, and Architectural, Mechanical, Figure and Topographical Drawing. He remained at Santa Clara from 1907-1914. As a teacher, he has been described as a colorful professor devoted to the institution.
    In 1914, Porta left Santa Clara, moved his family to San Francisco, and opened his own architect business. While in San Francisco, he published a newsletter on weather prediction entitled "Institute of Planetary Sciences." He soon became ill with cancer of the liver and died in 1923.

    Scope and Content

    The Alberto F. Porta Papers consist of correspondence, clippings, manuscripts, architectural drawings, and prints and negatives of drawings. The materials, in both English and Italian, reflect Porta's career as an architect in Guatemala and San Francisco, and a professor at Santa Clara College. Included in the collection are materials on weather forecasting, earthquake predictions, and his invention of a helicoidal aeroplane.

    Indexing Terms


    Porta, Alberto F.

    Container List

    Box 1, Folder 1

    Clippings Scrapbook, 1914-1920

    Box 1, Folder 2


    Box 1, Folder 3

    Degrees and Certificates,1881-1896

    Language of Material: and [code "italian" not found in ISO 639-2 list].
    Box 1, Folder 4

    Correspondence regarding SS. Peter and Paul Church,1921-1922

    Box 1, Folder 5

    Paper titled "Ss. Peter & Paul Church" by Anne Gilligan Fornaciari, 1990

    Box 1, Folder 6

    Corresepondence regarding weather predictions,1919

    Box 1, Folder 7

    Clippings on weather forecasts, 1916-1923

    Box 1, Folder 8

    Clippings-biographical, 1919-1923

    Box 1, Folder 9

    "Contratto di Societa" [contract to develop a new type of airplane],1916

    Language of Material: and [code "Italian" not found in ISO 639-2 list].
    Box 1, Folder 10

    Engineering Drawings, specifications, and working papers for "Porta's Helicoidal Aeroplane,"1917

    Box 2, Folder 1

    Typescript, "The Historical Earthquake of San Francisco (April 18, 1906) Explained in Conformity with Sunspot Theory..."

    Box 2, Folder 2

    Typescipts and notes, including "Can We Communicate with Mars,"1920

    Box 2, Folder 3

    Typescripts, "The League of the PLanets," and "The Quadrature of Jupiter is Approaching,"1919

    Box 2, Folder 4

    Typescript, "Eclipse of the Sun"

    Language of Material: and [code "Italian" not found in ISO 639-2 list].
    Box 2, Folder 5

    Newsletter, "Institute of Planetary Sciences,"1918-1921

    Box 2, Folder 6

    Typescript addressed to Benito Mussolini, "Heliospotology," [1922]

    Language of Material: and [code "Italian" not found in ISO 639-2 list].
    Box 2, Folder 7

    Typescript with notes and annotations, "Earthquakes and Volcanoes,"[1909]

    Box 2, Folder 8

    Typescript with annotations, and correspondence regarding "The Epidemic of Influenze Connected with the Motion of the Planet Jupiter,"1919

    Box` 2, Folder 9

    Typescript with annotations, "Earthquakes and Volcanoes,"1909

    Box 2, Folder 10

    Typescript, with correspondence, "Causes of Earthquakes." Includes correspondence with SCU faculty Jerome Ricard, S.J.1911

    Box 2, Folder 11

    Correspondence regarding patent of flying machine,1917-1929

    Box 2, Folder 12

    Manuscripts on conversion tables and calculations, topography and seismography,1910-1917

    Box 2, Folder 13

    Typescript, "Effect of Planetary Phenomenon on Humans"

    Box 2, Folder 14

    Typescript, articles, and notes on weather predictions, 1913, 1915

    Language of Material: and [code "Italian" not found in ISO 639-2 list].
    Box 3, Folder 1

    Designs and diagrams of Porta's Helicoidal Airplane,

    Physical Description: Negatives, and black and white prints.
    Box 4, Folder 1

    Architectural drawings and plans for buildings in Quesaltenango, Guatemala, and San Francisco, 1898-1923

    Physical Description: Ink on linen. 17"x19"
    Box 4, Folder 2

    Illustrations of SS. Peter & Paul Church, San Francisco, and St. Antonio de Padova, Italy

    Box 4, Folder 3

    Interior photographs of buildings in San Jose, Santa Clara, Oakland, Turin, Italy, and Quesaltenango, Guatemala.

    Physical Description: Black and white prints mounted on matt board.