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American Folklife Center Collections: Brazil

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting Brazilin expressive culture in Brazil and the United States in the collections of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.


An old-style woodcut by José Costa Leite (left) illustrates a fantastic tale of a woman who visits Hell and makes a narrow escape. AFC 1970/002:M01987. A cover in a more contemporary style by Sergio Lima (right) illustrates a Brazilian cordel chapbook in the ghost stories series.. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.
Two covers of popular chapbooks (undated), called Literatura de Cordel, showing examples of woodblock prints by the author. Literatura de Cordel collection.

American Folklife Center collections from Brazil document the diversity of its expressive culture. This guide includes collections representing Brazilian and Brazilian Americans culture. Among these unique collections are several collections of Brazilian chapbooks, called "literatura de cordel," together these form the largest known archival holdings of these popular works of poetry and song lyrics. They are frequently decorated with traditional woodblock prints. The Literatura de Cordel Symposium provides more information about the chapbook collections (the links to webcasts of this symposium are listed under public programming below). Collections of folk and popular song by ethnomusicologist Luiz Heitor Corrêa de Azevedo may be found in the Library of Congress catalog (two examples are in the links below). These are grouped into collections by the regions where Azevedo did his field work. Many other ethnographers who contributed to the American Folklife Center Archive did work in Brazil, indluding Melville Herskovits. Search the collections and finding aids for further examples.

Lowell Folklife Project Collection

The Lowell Folklife Project Collection, a project conducted by the American Folklife Center, includes an interview with Francisco (Frank) Corvalno, a Brazilian American who talks in detail about Brazilian identity, his experiences with the Portuguese community, and growing up Brazilian in Lowell. There are also portrait photographs of Mr. Corvalno.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.


Podcasts and Blog Posts

Public Programming

The introduction of ideas taken from international intellectual property regimes to communities of indigenous peoples that can lead to serious repercussions. In this presentation, Anthony Seeger discusses some of the results of the arrival new ideas and language about music and ceremonial ownership on central aspects of the musical, artistic, and economic life of a group of Brazilian Indians known in the literature as the Suyá, but who now prefer to be called Kïsêdjê. It examines shifts in language and concepts related to performing the music of others and the impact of these on their musical performances, body paint, and material culture based on data collected since 1971, recent publications by Brazilian scholars, and discussions on e-mail using a linguist intermediary.

Additional Public Programming