Last night I stopped off at Lincoln Road on my way home from work to purchase tickets for some of the films being shown at the Colony Theatre and the Miami Beach Cinematheque during the 15th annual Brazilian Film Festival in Miami. Later that evening, I bicycled to North Miami Beach for an exhausting and exhilarating Capoeira Abolição workout with Mestre Delei—evidence of our
region’s booming Brazilian population and the popularity of Brazilian culture here in South Florida.

Returning to work this morning with Brazilian culture on the brain, I thought it only fitting that I highlight some of the rare and unusual Brazilian materials in the Wolfsonian’s rare book and special collections library.

While North Carolina can lay claim to being “first in flight” on account of the Wright Brother’s groundbreaking aerial exploits at Kitty Hawk, December 17, 1903, we have in our collection here in South Florida a number of rare books about Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932). The Brazilian-born aviator achieved fame for his flight in France on October 23, 1906, the first officially observed powered flight in Europe. In addition, the library holds a number of ephemeral items dealing with the Brazilian airline industry, including labels and advertising brochures.


The library also holds a few exceedingly rare ephemeral items documenting the aviation exploits of Italo Balbo (1896-1940), a prominent Blackshirt who served as Italy’s Marshall of the Air Force and was for a time “heir-apparent” to the dictator, Benito Mussolini. Between December 1930 and January 1931, Balbo led a squadron of twelve Savoia-Marchetti S.55 flying boats on a transatlantic
crossing from Italy to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and topped off the feat by landing another squadron of seaplanes at the Century of Progress International Exposition in Chicago in the summer of 1933.

Speaking of world’s fairs, there are a number of rare books in the collection that document Brazil’s participation in various international expositions, including original catalogs printed for the Centenary of Brazilian Independence held in Rio de Janeiro in 1922. Other ephemeral items in the library, including postcards, brochures, and leaflets, were published for distribution in the Brazilian pavilions built to represent the nation at various exhibitions held in cities all around the globe.




One absolutely unique item in our collection is an original manuscript, Hip! Hip! Hoover! a poetic tribute to President Herbert Hoover by Oswald de Andrade featuring an original pen and ink  illustration by renowned Brazilian artist Tarsila da Amaral (1886-1973). The manuscript was made to commemorate the visit to Brazil by the American president in December 1928, at the peak of popularity less than a year before the Stock Market would come crashing down.

Below is a rough translation of the poetic stanzas:

America of the South/ America of the Sun/ America of Salt/ of Ocean/ Open the
joy of your inlets/ to receive the canyons of Utah/ from whence comes the
elected President/ of the great American Democracy/ convoyed in the air/ By the
flight of airplanes/ and by all the birds/ of Brazil// Corporations and
families/ Those were already gone to the streets/ Anxious/ to see him/ Hoover!//
And this country became like before its discovery/ Without any thieves at home/
To see him/ Hoover!// But such mania/ The police persecute the workers/ Even on
that day/ In which they only want/ To see him/ Hoover!// It may be Argentina/
Has more coarse flour in the League of Nations/ More credit in banks/ Tangos
more nice// It may be/ But say it sincerely/ Which were the people who best
greeted/ The American President/ Because, Mr. Hoover, Brazilians are a people of
sentiment/ And you know, sir/ sentiment is everything in life/ Go!

~ by "The Chief" on August 20, 2011.

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