Tucked away in a small corner of the John Hay Library — always a treasure trove of information — is the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian Studies' literary exhibit: "Portugal, 1910: The Advent of the Republic."
The exhibit, which includes books, postcards and caricatures, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Portuguese Republic.
"Portugal, 1910" offers visitors the opportunity to explore the rich political history of a nation in a condensed, but revealing, manner. The Bopp Seminar Room in which the exhibit is housed is a tiny offshoot of the Hay's impressive third floor gallery, home to the 6,000 toy soldiers of the Anne K.S. Military Collection. The seminar room provides a cozy home for the literature of Portugal's finest writers, including Antero de Quental, Guerra Junquieros and Ana de Castro Osorio.
The exhibit provides a useful historical backdrop of the time period which contextualizes the literature section of the show.
The exhibition focuses on the period between the regicide of King D. Carlos and of Prince Heir D. Luis Filipe in February 1908 and the establishment of the Portuguese Republic October 1910, providing viewers with a unique opportunity to see a slice of Portuguese history from a literary perspective.
Curator Sandra Sousa, a visiting fellow from Portugal, said that while she was in Portugal this summer with fellow curator Maria Ana Travassos Valdez, visiting assistant professor of Portuguese and Brazilian studies and history, she found a wealth of material to include in the show.
Valdez and Sousa attended exhibits hosted by the Commission for the 100 Years of the Republic, Sousa said, where they were loaned several documents and postcards for the display in the Hay.
The curators then explored the John D. Rockefeller Library for resources and materials to put on display, Sousa said. In particular, she said that the Rock hosts a good collection of Portuguese newspapers, which were on display over a projector at the opening reception of the exhibit.
Sousa said they also found several items online and pulled certain pieces from their own private collections. With such a wealth of material — Sousa said her office was full of books on the topic — a great deal of editing had to be done to fit the entire collection in the four display cases the seminar room has to offer.
The end result is an interesting collection of pieces from a time period not well known to those outside of the subject area. Even Sousa had to do a great deal of research before embarking on organizing the collection, she said.
Valdez, as a historian, contributed greatly in filling in the historical context while Sousa focused largely on researching the literature of the time period. Patricia Figueroa, curator of the Iberian and Latin American Collections at Brown, also assisted in curating the exhibit.
The opening reception, held Oct. 5, exactly 100 years after the formation of the Republic, was attended by members of the Brown community, as well as Portuguese newspapers and community members from the Providence area, Sousa said. It is important to the curators that not only the Brown community but also the large Portuguese population in Providence get to experience the exhibition, she added.
The quaint collection of materials provides visitors with the chance to get an interesting history lesson in just one short trip to the Hay, illuminating a time of change and conflict in Portugal.