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Portugal: 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

Sidney Robertson Cowell, photographer. Alice Lemos Avila with Olive and Joachim Flores and Frank Cunha, group portrait, photograph. 1938-1939. Library of Congress American Folklife Center.

The American Folklife Center (AFC) was created to "preserve and present American folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibitions, publications, and training. Today, the American Folklife Center is one of the largest archives of ethnographic materials from the United States and around the world, encompassing millions of items of ethnographic and historical documentation from the nineteenth century to the present. These collections, which include extensive audiovisual documentation of traditional arts, cultural expressions, and oral histories, offer researchers access to the songs, stories, and other creative expressions of people from diverse communities.

AFC holds many items related to the Portuguese immigration to the United States and the communities that settled on the East and West Coasts. "California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties" collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell is comprised of folk music recorded in 12 languages representing numerous ethnic groups and 185 musicians. It includes sound recordings, still photographs of the performers, drawings of folk instruments, and written documentation from a variety of European ethnic and English - speaking communities in northern California in the 1930s, including Portuguese

Featured Recording:

The Vals Portugues ilinked below s performed by Frank Cunha on the mandolin and Joachim Flores on guitar and was recorded in Oakland, California, on April 12, 1939 and forms part of a group of field materials documenting Alice Lemos Avila and friends performing Portuguese songs and music.

Prints, Photographs, Visual Materials

Toni Frissell, photographer. Medieaval Street in Alfama.1940-1950. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Library's Prints and Photographs Division is the repository for a rich collection of prints, photographs, and other visual materials on and about Chile from significant artists and photographers. Many of these items have been digitized and are available to researchers online. Many other visual materials are available to researchers in the Library's Prints and Photographs Reading Room. The images shown here are representative of the prints and photographs you may find through your searches.

Archive of Hispanic Culture

The Prints and Photographs Division contains a rich collection of photographs and posters about Portugal many of which are part of the Archive of Hispanic Culture, a photographic reference collection for the study of Luso-Hispanic art and architecture, part of which is available online.

Other Print and Photographic Collections

Historic photographs registering the lives of Portuguese American communities in the United States can be found in the Farm Security Administration Collection.

Political posters about the 1974 democratic transition in Portugal and other political events are included in the Yanker Poster Collection. This collection contains more than 3,000 political, propaganda, and social issues posters and handbills dating from 1927-1980. Most posters are from the United States, but over 55 other countries and the United Nations are also represented. The materials were acquired by gift of Gary Yanker in 1975 and later.

"Manuel of Portugal." ca. 1915- ca. 1920. Bain News services, publisher. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Known as "O desventurado" Dom Manuel II was the last king of Portugal. He took over the throne after the assassination of his father Dom Carlos I and his brother by the republican forces in 1908. Dom Manuel reigned as the last Portuguese sovereign until 1910 when the First Portuguese Republic was declared. Dom Manuel left Portugal and lived the rest of his life in England where he died in 1932.

"Northwest film premiere : Viva Portugal, a prizewinning documentary film on Portugal, 1974, the first year of the revolution." 1977. Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division.

From 1933 until 1974 Portugal lived under the authoritarian rule ofmAntónio de Oliveira Salazar, a period called the Estado Novo. On April 25, 1974 many military captains recently returned from the colonial wars in Africa led a coup to overthrow Salazar and they were joined by thousands of civilians who opposed the dictatorship. This moment is known as the Revolução dos cravos (Carnation Revolution) because people would place carnations on the soldiers rifles. The image above shows a civil demonstration and the military forces on that historic day. The event on this poster was sponsored by the Freedom Socialist Party (U.S.) and commemorates the third anniversary of the revolution.

Law, Legal Materials

The Law Library of Congress includes a vast collection on 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.

Access to legal materials related to Mexico are provided by the Law Library, including:

Letter of President Thomas Jefferson to King John of Portugal
Thomas Jefferson to John, Regent of Portugal, May 5, 1808. 1808. Library of Congress Manuscript Division.

Manuscripts, Archival Materials

The Manuscript Division holds approximately sixty million items in eleven thousand separate collections, including some of the greatest manuscript treasures of American history and culture and support scholarly research in many aspects of political, cultural, and scientific history. The Library's Manuscript Reading Room provides access to archival materials on and about Portugal, including primary sources from cultural figures, authors, and politicians.

Portuguese Manuscript Collection

This collection includes correspondence, literary manuscripts and poetry, reports, notebooks, proclamations, legal and military documents, account books, broadsides, and other papers and documents relating to various aspects of Portuguese history, society, literature, religion, and culture. Subjects include the poet Luís de Camões; military orders of knighthood, especially the Ordem Militar de Avis and the Order of Christ; and Sebastianism. Also contains materials pertaining to the Peninsular War, Miguelist civil strife in Portugal, royal funeral ceremonies, the Inquisition, genealogy, and colonial administration in Brazil. Prominent figures represented includes Portuguese sovereigns, diplomats, priests and other religious leaders in the Catholic Church, intellectuals, and others.

Additional Collections

Other treasures in the Manuscript Division include a letter by Thomas Jefferson dated May 5, 1808, welcoming the Prince Regent to Brazil and the American continent. The Portuguese court fled the Napoleonic invasion to Portugal and settled in their American colony, making Brazil the seat of the Portuguese Empire until 1822.

Eighteenth century map of the Algarve Kingdom
Reino do Algarve. 1730-1774. 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.

Performing Arts

The Performing Arts Reading Room (part of the Library's Music Division) provides access to classified music and book collections, music and literary manuscripts, iconography, microforms, periodicals, musical instruments, published and unpublished copyright deposits, and close to 500 special collections in music, theater, and dance.

Pro tip: While the Music Division houses special collections and resources related to music and performing arts like theater and artists' papers, to hear recordings or interact with audio visual materials in the Library's collections, visit the Recorded Sound Research Center of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

National Jukebox

Check out the National Jukebox for historical recordings from the Library of Congress to find music from the the Caribbean, Latin America, Portugal, and Spain.

Featured recording:

The recording below features tenor Enrico Caruso.

Rare Books, Special Collections

Theodor de Bry. Battle between Portuguese and Indians and Garasu near the harbor of Marin, engraving. 1593. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections.

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division traces its beginnings to Thomas Jefferson's wish to create a library for statesmen and for the people of the new nation covering the broad spectrum of human knowledge and interests. Today the division's collections amount to nearly 800,000 books, broadsides, pamphlets, theater playbills, title pages, prints, posters, photographs, and manuscripts.

Portuguese Pamphlets Collection

The Portuguese Pamphlets Collection covers the years 1610-1921 in approximately 75 reels of microfilm. Collected primarily by the Portuguese Antonio Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro, the Portuguese Pamphlet collection reflects the interests in the rule of the Marques de Pombal in Portugal, Brazil, dynastic struggles, voyages of discovery, political tracts, criticism of the monarchy, and literary and intellectual polemics, sermons, eulogies, among other topics.

One of the gems of the Rare Book and Special Collections is the 15th-century printing commissioned by King John II of Portugal, Oratio de obedentia ad Innocentium VIII (Rome between 1488-1490), an early account of Portuguese explorations and discoveries presented to Pope Innocent VIII, to inform him of the commencement of the European age of discovery. This document was the 100,000,001 item added to the Library of Congress' collection.