Rescuing archives from Belém do Pará, Brazil (EAP753)

Aims and objectives

This project aims to identify and create a provisional inventory of parish documents in the area of Belém do Pará, specifically the parishes of Mojú, Bragança and S. Caetano. It is also hoped to evaluate the documentation in the parishes of Cametá, Abaeté, Acará, Barcarena and Igarapé-Miri as well as the documentation presently at the Metropolitan Curia of Belém, Pará, Brazil. Some sample digitisation will be undertaken. These parishes hold baptismal, marriage and marriage-related documents, and other kinds of ecclesiastical sources, particularly from the end of the 18th to the 19th century. They are extremely important for the history of colonial Brazil, specifically the history of the old state of Grão-Pará, which constituted one of the most important regions of the Portuguese Empire during the 18th century.

The documents are in exceedingly poor conditions. Climate conditions – the weather is extremely humid and hot – together with the lack of acclimatisation, poor storage, general negligence and no interest of local officials have left these materials in perilous endangerment. Rodents, insects and fungi constitute a further threat to the physical survival of these archives. The archives have also been depleted by robberies.

The project will assess the exact number and condition of existing documents as well as create an inventory with the help of graduate students from the Universidade Federal do Pará. The restoration of these archives will allow scholars all over the world to focus not only on the practices of the Portuguese as the colonisers but also on studies related to the indigenous populations in the area, which constituted the bulk of the population together with the Portuguese (African enslaved population passed through the area but remained in very small numbers due to the high demand of workforce in other Brazilian areas.) The study of this segment of the population has been neglected yet their impact on the social and political organisation of the area was extremely important as can be determined by the huge amount of legislation dealing with the local indigenous population.

Outcomes

This project identified the parishes of Mojú, Bragança, S. Caetano, Vigia and Barcarena. The documentation at the Metropolitan Cúria of Belém itself could not be consulted in view of the death of the Bishop of Belém, D. Vicente Zinco on the 5th of May of 2015, a couple of weeks before the project was initiated. 18 books were digitised from the Parish of Divino Espírito Santo of Mojú, including some books from Cairary and Bujarú.

The records copied by this project have been catalogued as: 

The project also produced a survey report.

Survey report (PDF 240KB)

View archives from this project (24)

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