On this September 7th, both the United States and Brazil are celebrating. In the United States, Labor Day is commemorated on the first Monday of September to honor workers and remember their contributions to society. The date became a national holiday in 1894 and throughout the years also became an informal marker for the end of summer. In 2020, this date coincides with Brazil’s Independence Day.
Although this year’s celebrations are very different from years past due to the Covid-19 pandemic, both Brazilians and Americans have found ways to remember. Due to these circumstances, we were not able to host our annual exhibit at the Mullen Library to gather friends and colleagues. Nevertheless, we instead gathered virtually last month to officially mark the beginning of a collaboration between the Brazilian Senate and the Oliveira Lima Library that is wrapped in historical importance. The Senate’s Special Curatorial Commission, led by Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, has the mission to organize celebrations of the approaching 200th years of Brazilian independence. On August 17th, in a live meeting broadcast via the Senate’s Youtube Channel, Provost Aaron Dominguez and I met to sign the agreement with members of the Senate’s Special Curatorial Commision, including: Senator Randolfe Rodrigues; 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.
It is with great pleasure that on this 198th Independence Day, the Oliveira Lima Library announces that with the signature of this cooperative agreement with the Senate’s Special Curatorial Commission, we will have an active role in the celebrations of the Bicentennial of Brazilian Independence in 2022. The Memorandum of Understanding’s stated purposes are to establish a cooperative relationship between the Federal Senate and the Catholic University of America, aiming at the promotion of knowledge, preservation and dissemination of the personal collection that resulted in the library of the great Brazilian diplomat and historian Manoel de Oliveira Lima, and to establish a partnership in the organization of materials and contents to be exhibited at events related to the theme of the bicentenary, the publication of unpublished works or re-edition of works featured in the collection or other joint initiatives on specific topics of common interest.
The projects are underway. Shortly, we will be announcing details on the publications we are preparing. New editions of Oliveira Lima’s books alongside edited volumes of long forgotten and hard to find works are being prepared. Finally, the well-known Independence Pamphlets Collection, which includes documents exclusively found in our collection, will be available for a wider audience in print.
This collaboration fulfills the mission of the Oliveira Lima Library as envisioned by its founder, Manoel de Oliveira Lima, who wished to establish in the United States an institution that would be a source of information for the study of the history of Brazil and a promoter of greater understanding between the two countries. By providing access to documents never before seen in Brazil, illuminating a pivotal moment in history and shedding light on voices of the unheard, we take another step in that direction. Although this is not the 7 de Setembro we had envisioned, we certainly do have a lot to celebrate. Feliz Dia da Independência!