September 04, 2020
Screenshot of a Zoom call

Next week, Brazil will celebrate its 198th Sete de Setembro (September 7), Brazilian Independence Day. Catholic University is gearing up to help Brazil celebrate its bicentennial of independence in 2022 thanks to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Catholic University’s Oliveira Lima Library and the Federal Senate of Brazil.

In a virtual event in August, the Special Curatorial Commission, responsible in the Brazilian Senate for organizing the celebrations and led by Senator Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede-AP), announced the cooperative agreement. Participating from Catholic University were Provost Aaron Dominguez and Oliveira Lima Library Director Nathalia Henrich.

Other Brazilians participating in the online event included Vice President of the Senate Editorial Council and Secretary of the Commission Esther Bermeguy; Heloísa Sterling, historian and member of the Curatorial Committee; and Ilana Trombka, the director general of the Senate. 

The MOU was established because of the wealth of resources contained in the library, named for diplomat and historian Manoel de Oliveira Lima, who collected the materials contained in the library. Lima was a noted historian and Brazilian journalist. 

This collaboration “fulfills the role that its founder had in mind when he donated his collection to The Catholic University of America in 1916,” Henrich said. “The diplomat and historian Manoel de Oliveira Lima was an early librarian. Since he was 14 years old he collected books and documents. He did this to quench the desire to know more about the Brazil that he left behind.”

The partnership gives Brazil access to historical documents, such as the so-called Independence pamphlets, which recorded opinions about the emancipation of the country of Portugal. 

Trombka highlighted the academic gain from the partnership. The primary resources will help inform a new generation of the history of the country. Starling emphasized that many of these sources are unknown to the public and will shed new light on the process of independence, especially the participation of minorities and women.

As outlined in the MOU, the library will work with the Federal Senate of Brazil to organize materials to be exhibited at the bicentenary, publish unpublished works, and reproduce works featured in the collection and other joint initiatives on specific topics of common interest.

“This partnership is a big deal for both the University and Brazil,” Provost Dominguez said. “It is a perfect example of the University serving as a leading global Catholic research university.”