Panel 3: Legacy collections of Brazil (2015)

Moderator: Ellen Jaramillo (Yale University)
Rapporteur: Richard Phillips (University of Florida)

Ellen Jaramillo (Yale University) warmly welcomed the audience of 25 and introduced the 3 panelists. Speaking first was Ricardo Souza de Carvalho from the Universidade de São Paulo, with a paper entitled:  " O acervo ibero-americano de um brasileiro nos Estados Unidos :  a história da Oliveira Lima Library. “The second speaker was Pilar Moreno from Mexico's Biblioteca Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana), who presented her paper: “ Uso y preservación de colecciones del patrimonio cultural brasileñ​o y mexicano en la Biblioteca Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz." The final participant on this panel was Giuliana Ragusa from the Universidade de São Paulo with her talk: " Biblioteca Brasiliana Mindlin: uma história de desafios " ;  questions followed.

Ricardo Souza de Carvalho traced the background and creation of the Oliveira Lima Library at Catholic University in Washington, DC. He spoke in animated terms of the life of Manoel de Oliveira Lima (1867-1928) and his passion for books and book collecting. Born in Recife, his youth in Portugal and Brazil was filled with a love of culture, especially history. He authored many books and journals. His work as a member of Brazil's diplomatic corps took him to London, Bonn, Tokyo, Washington and other international capitals, and these assignments facilitated his acquisition and appreciation of rare and fine books, especially on the history of Brazil.  In the early 1900s Oliveira Lima considered the placement of his personal book and manuscripts collection at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. following years of contact with that institution.

In 1916 he formally agreed with Bishop Thomas Shahan of Catholic University to move forward with that gift. Details negotiated with CU were to ensure that the donation would have a separate room that would carry his name - The Oliveira Lima Library - and that it would be processed promptly, and be an active and open research facility. This also was to include conservation of fragile manuscript items, archival organization of correspondence, staffing by knowledgeable curators, and on-going efforts to gain support for further development of these rare, unique intellectual resources. The original gift was some 40,000 volumes, plus many manuscripts, photos and art, and it now has grown to some 60,000 volumes. Support for that endeavor included testimonials from leading scholars, including Gilberto Freyre. Other universities such as Cambridge (UK) and Bonn (Germany) were also considered, but Catholic University was chosen.

Souza de Carvalho went on to reflect on the progress and on a number of frustrations and delays in the years following the creation of the Oliveira Lima Library. By the end of the 1920s large amounts of the collections has been given cataloging and bibliographic description. However, the handling of the Library was sometimes chaotic, in spite of the best intentions. Access was uneven, some of the holdings were moved to private hands, and others were still not fully known. World wars, and the economic depressions and downturns in the 1930s, and again in the 1950s, were also roadblocks. But, throughout the years the Oliveira Lima Library has remained a dedicated resource, now with a greater focus and support. Directors have been Mauricio Cardoso, Richard Morse, and current head Tom Cohen.

Today the Oliveira Lima Library at Catholic University is active in serving users from across the globe. Digital projects and efforts are bearing impressive success. Access is at:; to paraphrase Souza de Carvalho, the Oliveira Lima Library at Catholic University is indispensable for research and study of Brazil.

Pilar Moreno described the holdings related to Brazil at the Biblioteca Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana) in México, D.F., citing with light humor how Brazil is sometimes viewed by Mexicans as a land of carnival and soccer, while Mexico is seen by Brazilians good heartedly as a country consuming chiles and telenovelas. Moreno then moved beyond those initial jokes and perspectives by tracking intellectual and cultural relations between the two societies since each gained independence in the 1820s. She looked at the early diplomatic representations and talks each nation held in Buenos Aires during those early independent years as a launch point between Brazil and Mexico that eventually grew to full ambassadorial exchanges, and that have become today's on-going accords and agreements.

Moreno singled out symbolic manifestations over the years by the two nations: these included the gift of a statue of Cuauhtémoc by Mexico to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro in 1922 at the celebration of the centennial of Brazilian independence; and, the service of Alfonso Reyes as ambassador to Brazil for the much of the 1930s - a post from which Reyes directed programming to enhance Brazilian and Mexican interchanges. Significant notables that were active and effective in these efforts were Octavio Paz, João Goulart, Florestan Fernandes, Lula, Vicente Fox and a number of others. Current themes, to be sure, have moved beyond the cultural panorama and now feature migration, hemispheric security, science, technology, environmentalism, commerce and education as top priorities.

The library at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana supports teaching and research, and holdings include books, journals and films ;  there is an ambitious offering of Portuguese language instruction at the Universidad del Claustro de Sor Juana, training students in programs including Human Rights, Law, Audiovisual Communications, and the Humanities. For more, see​  ;  NOTE : an impressive  file of the sounds of Mexico [Sonoteca de Mexico] is in development.

The third panelist was Giuliana Ragusa from the Universidade de São Paulo with an interesting talk: " Biblioteca Brasiliana Mindlin " ; the BBM, she reported, was the project of Brazilian industrialist José Mindlin​ who devoted his life and fortune to the appreciation and acquisition of books, manuscripts, and other cultural items dealing with Brazil in all fashions. The BBM contains some 60,000 volumes and for years was housed in the personal home of the Mindlin family. In 2013 it was moved to a new, well-designed, low humidity special collections facility at USP.

Items of note in the BBM include a 1557 edition of the travel account of Hans Staden, many documents from Brazil's imperial years of 1822-1889, and a fabulous array of original manuscripts from writers such as João Guimarães Rosa, Gilberto Freyre, and Padre Vieira. It is important to also note that José Mindlin​ supported contemporary writing and the arts  generously, and served on editorial commission of the prominent Edusp publishing house as just one example.

BBM has a digital archive of some 3,000 titles, such as Gabriel Soares de Souza's important Tratado : see​

Questions in the limited time available were from Paul Losch (University of Florida) concerning the cataloging of the Biblioteca Brasiliana Mindlin loading into and appearing in OCLC; Ragusa was not certain, and this has not been verified. Next, Talía Guzmán-González (of Maryland) asked about the financial status of the BBM, and Ragusa replied that it is a part of USP's library system, but funding for the future acquisition and purchase of rare materials is never certain.

Richard Phillips (U of Florida)