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Portuguese Manuscript Collection

Manuscripts relating to Portuguese history and literature

Through purchases in 1927 and 1929, the Library of Congress acquired the nucleus of its general book collections in Portuguese history and literature and an important group of documents now in available to researchers in the Manuscript Reading Room. Like the books and pamphlets, the majority of the 600 manuscripts can be traced to the private libraries of two Portuguese collectors, conde de Olivais e Penha Longa and Antonio Augusto de Carvalho Monteiro. A significant number of items are concerned with Sebastianism, the belief that King Sebastian, killed in North Africa in 1578, will return to restore Portugal to its former greatness; Luiz de Camões (1524?-1580), author of Portugal's epic poem Os Lusiadas; and the military orders of knighthood. Included are general historical works, histories of the Portuguese sovereigns, letters of seventeenth-century diplomatic figures, and a volume containing 201 letters (1774-79) of Manoel de Cunha Menezes, captain general of Pernambuco and Bahia. Also in the collection is material on the Peninsular Wars, the Miguelist civil strife, royal funeral ceremonies, the Inquisition, and genealogy. The manuscripts span a period of more than five centuries -- the earliest dates from 1438 -- and include original documents and copies. The Portuguese Manuscript Collection: A Guide, contains an index listing names and places. While most of the Portuguese printed material acquired in the 1920s has been integrated within the general collections, a number of Portuguese pamphlets have been microfilmed and are collected in the Portuguese Pamphlet Collection. Additional reference information on both the manuscripts and the pamphlets may be found in the Hispanic Reading Room.

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  July 30, 2014
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