Portuguese and Brazilian History

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William B. Greenlee (1872-1953) was a Newberry Library Trustee whose generosity greatly enhanced the library’s collections. Greenlee was an interested amateur student who studied Portuguese and Brazilian history in the Ayer Collection while collecting books on his own. In 1937 he transferred his Portuguese library to the Newberry, where he worked among his books, selecting new titles and editing a volume of voyages to Brazil for the Hakluyt Society. The collection, numbering over 10,000 volumes, is particularly strong in the following areas:

  • Periodicals, gazetteers, bibliographies, and collections of documents
  • Travel literature and special subjects relating to social life and customs
  • Biography
  • General Portuguese history and literature, especially colonial expansion
  • Local history and description

While purposely not focusing on first editions of old and rare books, the Greenlee Collection has been built into one of the world’s finest working libraries of Luso-Brazilian research materials. In addition to print material, the Greenlee collection contains 226 Portuguese manuscripts, dating from 1660 to 1815. The acquisition of over 15,000 sixteenth- through nineteenth-century Portuguese leaflets, pamphlets, and booklets in recent years has added further research depth to this great collection.

To find books within the William B. Greenlee collection or on Portuguese and Brazilian topics in our collection, you can search by Subject in our catalog using some of the following headings:

  • Brazil
  • Brazil -- Antiquities
  • Brazil -- Biography
  • Portuguese
  • Portuguese -- Africa
  • Explorers -- Portugal

*You may also search by title or author, if either of these is known.

Walsh, Doris Varne, comp. A Catalog of the William B. Greenlee Collection of Portuguese History and Literature and the Portuguese Materials in the Newberry Library. Chicago: Newberry Library, [c1953]. Location: Reference 3rd floor. Call number: Ref Z2739 .N48 1953.

Catalog of Manuscripts in the William B. Greenlee Collection. 1990. Location: Local & Family History Ref 2nd floor. Call number: Ref Z6621.N662 G7 1990a.

Greenlee, William Brooks. A Descriptive Bibliography of the History of Portugal. [Durham, NC?: Duke University Press?, 1940]. Reprinted from The Hispanic American Historical Review, vol. XX, no. 3, August 1940. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 5402 .G81 1940.

"The William B. Greenlee Collection." The Newberry Library Bulletin 6 (1951): 167-178.

Mosner, Gerald. "Portuguese Pamphlets." The Newberry Library Bulletin 3, no. 7 (1954).

Amado, Janaina. "Importante Coleção de História Luso-Brasileira na Newberry Library." Revista Estudos Históricos 1 (2001): 253-255.

Below are highlights from the Portuguese and Brazilian material in the William B. Greenlee collection:

Portuguese Pamphlets. Lisboa, etc., 1541-19--. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4504 .P855.

Almeida Jordão, Francisco de. Relaçaõ do castello e serra de Cintra, e do que ha que ver raro em toda ella. Lisboa: Francisco Luiz Ameno, 1748. Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4504 .P855 1748.

Ramos-Coelho, José. Alguns documentos do Archivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo ácerca das navegações e conquistas portuguezas publicados por ordem do governo de sua majestade fidelissima ao celebrar-se a commemoração quadricentenaria do descobrimento da America. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional, 1892. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4583 .A16 1892.

Santarém, Manuel Francisco de Barros e Sousa, Visconde de. Quadro elementar das relações politicas e diplomaticas de Portugal com as diversas potencias do mundo, desde o principio da monarchia portugueza até aos nossos dias. Pariz: J.P. Aillaud; [etc.], 1842-76. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4555 .S23 1842.

Borges de Castro, José Ferreira, Visconde de, comp. Collecção dos tratados, convenções, contratos e actos publicos celebrados entre a coroa de Portugal e as mais potencias desde 1640 até ao presente, comp., coordenados e annotados por José Ferreira Borges de Castro. Lisboa: Imprensa nacional, 1856-58. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4502 .P86 1856.

Arquivo histórico de Portugal. Lisboa. Began publication with v. 1, 1932. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4501 .A77.

Almeida, Fortunato de. História da igreja em Portugal, por Fortunato de Almeida. Coímbra: Imprensa académica, 1910-. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: Greenlee 4552 .A44 1910.

Busbecq, Ogier Ghislain de. Itinera Constantinopolitanum et Amasianum. Antuerpiæ : Ex officina Christophori Plantini..., 1581. Location: Special Collections 4th floor. Call number: VAULT Greenlee 5100 .B97 1581.

Most of our manuscript collections are available for viewing in the 4th floor Special Collections Reading Room. Full catalog records with name and subject access are included in the Newberry Library’s online catalog and OCLC’s WorldCat.

Brief citations for manuscripts acquired before 1937 are included in A Check List of Manuscripts in the Edward E. Ayer Collection compiled by Ruth Lapham Butler (Chicago: Newberry Library, 1937). Manuscript collections dating from 1700 and containing five or more items are listed both by author and primary subject in the Newberry’s American Modern Manuscript Collections, 1700-present.

With the exception of the William B. Greenlee Papers within our Modern Manuscript Collections, the rest of the materials below are single manuscript items rather than collections.

Here is a sampling of manuscript material relevant to the Greenlee collection:

William B. Greenlee Papers, 1872-1953, Bulk, 1890-1953. Chicago manufacturer, collector of early Portuguese books, Luso-Brazilian scholar, and Newberry Library Trustee. His papers contain correspondence, documents, diaries, scrapbooks, research matter, and photographs. The papers include correspondence and financial and legal documents of William B. Greenlee and focus on Greenlee's Portuguese collecting activities and scholarly work. Call number: NL Archives 02/15/04.

[Letter of Francisco Fernandes de Castilla, to Lope Hurtado de Mendonça, Spanish Ambassador to Portugal]. [Avila, 1530?]. Manuscript on paper requesting for intercession on his behalf for money owned to him by the Crown as past allowances for the Order of Christ. Call number: VAULT Greenlee MS 3.

[A True Description of the Captaincy of Porto Seguro, Its Location, Extent and Districts before the Rising of the Natives of the Land, Together with the Captaincy and Settlement of Nossa Senhora da Pina]. 1672. Manuscript on paper. The document is dated July 7, 1672. Call number: VAULT Greenlee MS 310.

[The Judgement of a Case between the Duke of Linhares and the Duke of Cadaval]. 1669. Manuscript on paper. The Duke of Cadaval is ordered to restore to the Duke of Linhares 20,000 cruzados. The payment is to be made with interest from the day of the peace to the day of payment. Call number: VAULT Greenlee MS 311.

[A Report on the Portuguese Infantry Forces in Ayamonte]. [Puerto de Santa Maria, 1692]. Manuscript on paper. An unsigned report submitted probably to a Spanish official giving weaknesses of the garrison and how it can be attacked. The document is dated October 12, 1692. Call number: VAULT Greenlee MS 332.

Digital Newberry

Explore the Newberry through digital collections, scholarly publications and research tools, interactive resources, tools designed for education, and online exhibitions. A few Greenlee collection items are available by searching “Greenlee” in the search box.

Torre do Tombo National Archive

The National Archive of Torre do Tombo is the Portuguese national archive established in 1378. The archive is one of the oldest institutions in Portugal, since its installation in one of the towers of the castle in Lisbon, which occurred during the reign of Ferdinand I.

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