Archives : Overview

1 A brief typology of the catalogued documents, by archive

The typology of the documents included and studied in the M.A.P. catalogue is a direct function of the archives that have been researched so far. The range of archives we have been able to research, in turn, has been dependent on the material conditions placed upon our research work; additionally, we have been fortunate to have colaborators who have contributed with documents from other archives we have not visited. Therefore, the universe of documents in our catalogue is first and foremost representative of the archives that have been researched, rather than of the actual history of Women in Portuguese America. We hope that with the development of the research and the ensuing growth of our catalogue, its representative character will also grow.

It is then based on an archival typology that we draw this brief outline of the types of document included in our catalog so far; the typology takes into account the origin and motivation of the documents:

1 Personal documents

Eg.: Personal letters kept as evidence by eclesiastical instances.

(7 documents)

2 Documents directed to
administrative instances

2.1 Written by the plaintifs
Eg.: Letters, requirements, applications, denounciations.

2.2 Written by others on behalf of the plaintifs
Eg.: Requirements, applications, denounciations.

(70 documents)

3 Documents originated from
administrative instances

3.1 Originated from state instances
Eg.: Dispatches, contracts, inventories.

3.2 Originated from eclesiastical instances
Eg.: Denounciations, processes.

(73 documents)

Below is a full list of the archives researched and the kinds of documents found in each of them so far:

ArchiveNumber of
Documents
APESP, São Paulo State Archive88
Documents directed to administrative instances (letters, requirements, applications, denounciations); Documents originated from administrative instances (dispatches, contracts).
ANTT, Torre do Tombo National Archive38
Private documents (private letters adjoined as evidence by the Inquisition Tribunal); Documents directed to the Inquisition Tribunal (confessions, denunciations); Documents originated from the Inquisition Tribunal (processes, denounciations, confessions).
CMJ, City of Jundiaí Archive12
Documents directed to administrative instances (land property claims). Research and edition by Kathlin Carla de Moraes.
APM (incl. IOM-PI), Minas Gerais State Archive 8
Documents directed to administrative instances (letters, requirements, applications); Documents originated from administrative instances (requirements, dispatches).
BNRJ, Rio de Janeiro National Library2
Documents directed to administrative instances (letters)
ACM, São Paulo Catholic Church Archive1
Private document (private letter adjoined as evidence by the Eclesiastic Tribunal)
APMT, Mato Grosso State Archive1
Documents originated from administrative instances (inventory)
150

2 Brief commentary by archive

2.1 Documents from the São Paulo State ArchiveCapitancy of São Vicente Fond

The larger part of the documents in the Catalogue (88) have been researched in the São Paulo State Archive (APESP – ‘Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo), more precisely in the Captancy of São Vicente Fond, which contains public administrative documents written from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Apart from this 88 documents already listed in the online Catalogue, we have a further group of documents that have already been colected at APESP, and which are currently been processed for the digital publication.

APESP has been priviledged in our research mainly because of logistics: it is located in the same city as we are based, and, fortunately for us, it offers state-of-the-art consultation facilities (cf. www.arquivoestado.sp.gov.br). The organization in the Archive and the colaboration of its professional custodial team have been invaluable resources for our research. Between 2018 and 2019, we have conducted periodic and sistematic research visits within the Captancy of São Vicente Fond, with great results. Since march 2020, the archive has been closed for consultations, as a public health safety measure.

In harmony with the nature of the Captancy of São Vicente Fond, the documents in our Catalogue pertaining to APESP are primarily official administrative instruments such as applications, requirements, declarations, complaints, pleas, contracts, etc. In two years of systematic research, we have found this far only two such document written by women – a requirement written and signed by Francisca Maria Xavier de Castro, in 1791, and a letter written and signed by Antonia Felícia de Castro in 1816, found as an attachment to a requirement. The remaining 86 documents either have women as ‘indirect autors’ or simply named within the processes, as victims, accused or witnesses (see Profiles of women in the documents for a detailed account of all these groups).

It may be important to notice that the Captancy of São Vicente Fond is an organic Fond, reflecting the original organization of the documents in the Colonial administration. Among other consequences, this means that the documents in the Fond pertain to a territory that is considerably larger than the ‘State of São Paulo‘ – as the Capitancy covered, in its apex, a considerable portion of what is now ‘Brazilian’ territory. Below is a schematic map representing its maximum known terrirtory, in the 17th century:

‘Brazil’ in 1654 – Shematic Map by Michael Serra, https://www.panmythica.com/2008/04/mapas-histricos-do-brasil.html

2.2 Documents from the Torre do Tombo National Archive – Lisbon Inquisiton Fond

The second most important Archive represented in our Catalogue is the Torre do Tombo National Archive (ANTT) in Portugal. The value of this archive for the Project has been immense, because, despite being located in Portugal, it offers an extremely well organized digitalized version of most of its Fonds (cf. digitarq.arquivos.pt). Most noticeably, the Portuguese Inquisition Fond, where our preliminary research in 2017 already indicated most of the documents pertaining the everyday lives of women were to be found.

It may be important to notice that most of the documents we have selected were produced in the context of the ‘visitations’ of the Lisbon Inquisition to the bishoprics of Bahia and Pernambuco in the late 16th century and early 17th century – as, in opposition to what happened in Spanish America, a dedicated colonial inquisitorial tribunal was never installed in Portuguese America. Therefore, all the documentation pertaining the ‘visitations’ in the colony is to be found today in the National Archives in Portugal, not in Brazil. It is fortunate for our research that the Portuguese National Archive has conducted a pioneer project of digitazation which has included the Inquisition Fonds (which is far from the usual practice).

To this date, we have catalogued 33 documents from ANTT; this includes two groups of material, the first directly found in the ANTT digital repository by our researchres, and the second, found thanks to the corpus of the Project Post Scriptum A Digital Archive of Ordinary Writing (Early Modern Portugal and Spain) (cf. ps.clul.ul.pt). All the documents found by our researchers at ANTT are instruments originated from and produced by the Inquisition; all the documents found by the Post Scriptum project are private letters kept as evidence by the Inquisition. To this day in our research, the P.S. corpus is the only repository (online or otherwise) where the category ‘gender’ is active as a key word for searches.

  1. Documents from the São Paulo State Archive (88 documents)
  2. Documents from the Torre do Tombo National Archive (38 documents)
  3. Documents from other digital archives (9 documents)
  4. Documents from other physical archives (13 documents)