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Brazil: Hispanic Reading Room Country Guide

Digital Collections and Services

The Library of Congress has over 20 centers that provide research space and guidance for users to interact with collection items based on subject or format. The Hispanic Reading Room curates materials from 61 countries and/or regions in 26 different languages and in varying formats such as books, maps, photographs, manuscripts, and digital objects. The Hispanic Reading Room staff provides access to materials from the General Collections and helps point researchers to relevant items in other reading rooms. Selected digitized primary source materials from the Library’s collections are highlighted below along with links for further exploration.

Folklife, Ethnographic Materials

The American Folklife Center holds a rich collection of popular arts in Brazil, including musical collections from the northeast region of the country and the largest collection of literatura de cordel (chapbook literature) outside of Brazil. In the markets of northeast Brazil, where literatura de cordel is most popular, local poets hang their chapbooks from strings, hence the name literatura de cordel (literally string literature). The poets, known as cordelistas, entertain the market crowd by reciting their narrative poems about current events, morality, or the adventures of a famous folk hero. Chapbooks are illustrated by woodcut prints, photographs, and other cover art.

Featured Event:

Literatura de Cordel: Continuity and Change in Brazilian Popular Literature (Symposium: September 26-27, 2011)

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress sponsored this two-day symposium in 2011. Presentations focused on the history of literatura de cordel, a form of popular literature from northeastern Brazil, as well as accompanying traditions. These include the composition of poems, lyrics, and stories; the creation of woodblock images; and performances inspired by literatura de cordel.

Additional symposium session webcasts:

Frank G Carpenter, photographer. Fishing boats. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.1941. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Prints, Photographs, and Visual Materials

The Prints and Photographs Division contains a rich collection of historic and contemporary photography about Brazil by Brazilian and international photographers. Many of these photographs are part of the historic Archive of Hispanic Culture, a photographic reference collection for the study of Latin American art and architecture. Among the fascinating collection items are images from the Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition to the interior of Brazil from 1913-1914.

Law, Legal Materials

The Law Library includes a vast collection of foreign legal materials, such as constitutions, codes, session laws, commentaries and indexes to laws, rules and regulations, Judicial court decisions and reports, and legal bibliographies, just to provide a few examples of the scope of these collections.

Access to legal materials related to Brazil are provided by the Law Library Reading Room, including:

Manuscripts, Archival Materials

The Manuscript Division holds papers and archival materials on and about Brazil. Their records include primary sources from cultural figures, politicians, and institutions.

Most manuscript materials are housed in the Manuscript Division, but other divisions of the Library also have manuscript collections, some of which have been digitized. A larger number are described by online finding aids or by records in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

Selected Finding Aids

The selected finding aids linked below describe manuscript collections significant in researching the country of Brazil. Finding aids can be particularly useful when assessing the full contents of a manuscript collection.

Hendrik Hondius. Accuratissima Brasiliæ tabula. 1630. Library of Congress Geography and Map Division.

Cartographic Materials

The Library's Geography and Map Division has custody of the largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection in the world with collections numbering over 5 million maps, 100,000 atlases, 8,000 reference works, over 5000 globes and globe gores, 3,000 raised relief models, over 130,000 microfiche/film, and a large number of cartographic materials in other formats. Many of these materials have been digitized and are available online. Materials that have not been digitized are available from the Geography and Map Reading Room.

Film, Video, Television

The Library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division holds one of the largest collections of motion pictures in the world, spanning the entire history of cinema. Many of these resources have been digitized and are available online. Access to these collection items, if not digitized, and research assistance is available through the Moving Image Research Center.

This 1945 film produced by the U.S. Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, recounts visits to three Brazilian cities, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Santos during the first half of the 20th century.

Hauslab Frana. Capture of the Portuguese city of Olinda (16 February), the capital of the captaincy of Pernambuco (East Brazil), by forces of the Dutch West India Company under the command of Hendrik Corneliszoon Lonck, and the subsequent surrender of the forts of Recife on 3 March 1630. 1630. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Rare Books, Special Collections

The Rare Book and Special Collection Division houses important material related to the colonial history of Brazil, including the Dutch occupation of Olinda in the Northeast. See for example, this image depicting the capture of the Portuguese city of Olinda by the Dutch West India Company, under the command of Hendrik Corneliszoon Lonck. Olinda is located in the state of Pernambuco in the northeast region of Brazil. Hendrik Corneliszoon Lonck, also captured the forts of Recife on 3 March 1630.

Researchers should visit the the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room to learn more about rare materials available online as well as special collections that contain significant resources on Brazil.

Two collections of Portuguese related materials are described below. The first title links to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. In addition, links to online versions of the work are provided. The second item links to a description of another collection available in the Rare Book and Special Collections Reading Room.