Digital Imperial Brazilian Newspapers, the Hemeroteca Digital Brasileira, and Historical Research, Part 2: Politics, Reform, and New Research Opportunities in a Digital Archive

AHA Session 167
Conference on Latin American History 30
Friday, January 6, 2017: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Room 402 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Andrew J. Kirkendall, Texas A&M University
Andrew J. Kirkendall, Texas A&M University

Session Abstract

This panel builds on the previous one and focuses on the Brazilian press in the last decades of the imperial regime. In these years, the number of titles published soared and their size increased. By the end of the 1880s, major dailies in Rio de Janeiro were claiming daily circulations of more than 30,000 copies. Journalists championed new causes like abolition and pioneered more popular forms of journalism. Portuguese-language newspapers published by Brazilians abroad also circulated in the country. Hundreds of ephemeral periodicals appeared for longer or shorter periods. The Hemeroteca Digital Brasileira (HDB) provides open access to this journalistic world whose contours historians have only scarcely begun to map.

Roberto Saba examines the production, circulation, and reception of the four Portuguese-language periodicals published by Brazilians in the United States in the 1870s. Funded by advertising from North American manufacturers seeking to gain access to Brazilian markets, these periodicals celebrated U.S. progress and technological innovation and attributed this success to freedom. Large portions of these periodicals were republished in Brazilian newspapers and thus circulated widely in Brazil. Both Angela Alonso and Celso Castilho examine abolitionist periodicals. Alonso focuses on the common anti-slavery rhetoric that permeated the four principal anti-slavery newspapers in Rio de Janeiro and attributes this to a selective incorporation of foreign abolitionist rhetoric. Castilho turns to another example of the ephemeral press analyzed by Barman in Panel 1. Focusing on the twelve issues of O Homem, a black abolitionist newspaper in Recife, he examines the social history of the ephemeral press in Pernambuco and how black politics was articulated in the province. Ian Read’s methodological paper concludes this workshop by suggesting ways of thinking creatively about systematic text analysis in the HDB; he shows how this new archive creates new modes of historical inquiry even as it offers new ways of answering old questions.

Together, these papers seek to lay a foundation for further research on and in newspapers through the HDB. Each presenter has been asked to reflect on newspapers as sources for research in Brazilian history (in light of the much easier access to them) and on issues that their research in newspapers has raised. We are a long way from being able to apply high-level methods of digital history to the HDB database, so the research in Brazilian newspapers remains a hybrid between old and new methods.