Oliveira Lima Library Digital Collections - The Oliveira Lima Family Papers by Nathalia Henrich

Gretchen Pierce's picture

Today we continue our mini-series on digital repositories with a post on the Oliveira Lima Library Digital Collections, a site of interest to scholars of Brazil and Portugal. Nathalia Henrich has been the Director and Curator of the Oliveira Lima Library at the Catholic University of America since 2018. She holds a Ph.D. and MA in Political Sociology from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) where she also received a BA in Social Sciences. She has an MA in Political Science from the University of Salamanca and a BA in International Relations from the University of Southern Santa Catarina (UNISUL). Her research interests relate to intellectual history and the history of social and political ideas in Latin America in the late 19th Century and early 20th Century, especially in Brazil. Her recent publications include “Joaquim Nabuco e Oliveira Lima em diálogo: separados pelos Estados Unidos,” Revista de Historia de América (2019) and “Oliveira Lima and the Oliveira Lima Library at the Catholic University of America,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History (2018). She co-edited “Projetos de Estado na América Latina Contemporânea (1930-1960)” (EDIPUCRS, 2019).

Oliveira Lima Library Digital Collections - The Oliveira Lima Family Papers

The Oliveira Lima Library at the Catholic University of America is a collection of books, manuscripts, pamphlets, maps, photographs, and works of art dedicated to the history and culture of the Ibero-American world, notably Portugal and Brazil. The collection reflects the interests and tastes of its founder, Brazilian diplomat, historian, and journalist Manoel de Oliveira Lima (1867–1928). He donated his personal library to CUA in 1916 and opened it to the public in 1924. Since then, the OLL has become one of the finest repositories of its kind in the United States.

In recent years, there has been a continuous effort to digitize and make available to the public one of the most relevant collections in the library, the Oliveira Lima Family Papers. Oliveira Lima was one of the most prestigious intellectuals and public figures of his time, publishing more than twenty books, numerous scholarly articles, and pieces in the national and foreign press. He was a member of a great number of learned societies in the Americas and Europe. As a diplomat, he represented Brazil in seven countries and three continents, not to mention his research trips. As a result of such a momentous life, he developed working and personal relationships with many of the most relevant intellectuals, academics, artists, diplomats, writers, and politicians in Latin America.

These relationships are recorded in an abundant correspondence that constitutes a key component of the Oliveira Lima Family Papers. The list of correspondents represented consists of more than 1200 names (people and institutions). Currently, correspondence from thirty-seven of them, including Euclides da Cunha and L. S. Rowe, is accessible through the Oliveira Lima Library Digital Collections repository online (see Figure 1). The letters, calling cards, notes, and postcards are all available for download. 

Figure 1: Screenshot of the Correspondence repository in the Oliveira Lima Library Digital Collections. Captured May 2020. (https://cuislandora.wrlc.org/islandora/object/lima%3A10060)

Most of the holdings are letters received by Oliveira Lima, making this collection compelling for a wide audience. Researchers interested in any of the correspondents will find unique and rarely consulted sources. However, anybody working more generally on the fields of literature, history, foreign policy, and politics from the late 19th century until the end of the 1920s in Latin America will also find these sources interesting.

As an example, I would like to highlight one of the correspondents found in the collection: Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908), the author of masterpieces such as Quincas Borba (Philosopher or Dog?) (1891), Dom Casmurro (1899), and Memorial de Aires (1908) (see Figure 2). Widely regarded as the greatest writer of Brazilian literature, he was also the President of the Brazilian Academy of Letters (Academia Brasileira de Letras- ABL), of which Oliveira Lima was a founding member.

Figure 2: Screenshot of the Correspondence repository in the Oliveira Lima Library Digital Collections. Available correspondence by Machado Assis. Captured May 2020. (https://cuislandora.wrlc.org/islandora/object/lima%3A15224)

In the letters, Machado and Lima discuss topics related to the everyday activities of the Academy, such as the election of new members and the move to new headquarters (see Figures 3 and 4). Frequently mentioned are, of course, their own ongoing works, and even some personal matters. For example, a notably reserved Machado de Assis would on occasion open his heart, confessing his heartbreak after the death of his beloved wife. In a 1904 letter, Machado goes as far as to say that after 35 years of marriage, losing Carolina made him feel that he was “over.” It is undoubtedly one of the most touching letters in the collection and provides a rare, intimate glimpse into the man known as the "The Warlock from Cosme Velho."

Figure 3: Correspondence from Machado de Assis to Manoel de Oliveira Lima (April 21, 1905). Downloaded May 27, 2020. (http://hdl.handle.net/1961/lima:15235)
Figure 4: Detail of a letter from Machado de Assis to Manoel de Oliveira Lima (November 18, 1904). Downloaded May 27, 2020. (http://hdl.handle.net/1961/lima:15228).

The correspondence is organized by author, by clicking on the respective photograph users can browse the letters available for download. It is also possible to filter the search results specifying a date range. Most of the documents in the repository are in the public domain, and are freely available for scholarly and other uses consistent with the mission of the Library. Request for a photographic quality image and permission to reproduce images in publications is subject to the approval of the Library. In this case, reproduction fees may be charged. For further information, email cua-limalibrary@cua.edu.

The digital repository is an ongoing project, with new correspondents being added constantly. Make sure to access our Digital Collections for a full list of the correspondents and check it periodically to see what’s new! To keep up with research, events and projects happening at the Oliveira Lima Library you can visit the OLL Blog.  

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