Brazil-Stanford: A Century-Old Connection

September 4, 2014
Adan Griego
Lithograph, Recolte du café

The Stanford Libraries hold one of the most comprehensive Braziliana collections in North America. Research interests in the region date back to the university’s early years with noted  geology professor John Casper Branner.  Before coming to campus in 1891 he had participated in two scientific expeditions to Brazil and would lead two other such important research field trips in 1899 and 1907. Cultural exchanges between Stanford and Brazil continue to this day. (1)

The collection is rich in pre-1900 travel accounts (200+ titles) and includes such rare treasures as Jean de Léry's Histoire d’un voyage fait en la terre du Brésil (1585) and Maurice Rugendas’ Voyage pittoresque dans le Brésil (1835). Lery's account of a year spent living among the Tupinamba Indians is considered a masterpiece of early modern ethnography and the rich visual imagery of Rugendas documented landscapes, fauna and flora in 1820s Brazil. 

Recolte du café by Rugendas, Johann Moritz, 1802-1858 / “Courtesy of The New York Public Library.  www.nypl.org”

In the late 1990s current holdings were augmented with the Lauerhass collection  of more than 4000 unique social science and humanities titles,  including a rare unpublished manuscript by Euclides da Cunha, author of Os Sertões (Rebellion in the Backlands), a seminal work on Brazil's foundational literary history.  These all are complemented by ephemera collections like the literatura de cordel or popular poetry chapbooks from the Northeastern region and political posters and flyers from recent presidential elections. (2)

  Literatura de cordel, Brazilian pamphlet collection
Among its vast socio-political holdings, the "Instituto Hoover da Universidade de California" also houses a letter from the party leader disputing a report where the "Instituto" notes very low numbers of affiliates for the Partido Comunista Brasileiro. (3)

The circulating collection adds more than1000 new titles every year and is supplemented by over 250 current journals and magazines.  Since 1950 these dynamic and rich holdings have supported an average of two yearly thesis/dissertations on various aspects of Brazilian life and culture.

Current Brazilian journals

Adan Griego,
Curator for Latin American Collections-Stanford University

Notes
1)  Brazilian president announces chair in Brazilian studies [at Stanford].
School of Education launches center to improve Brazilian education.

2) Brazilian Presidential Election Ephemera
1994 , 2002, and 2006 

3) Brazilian subject collection, 1971-2002