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Revista Brasileira de Educação

Print version ISSN 1413-2478On-line version ISSN 1809-449X

Rev. Bras. Educ. vol.24  Rio de Janeiro  2019  Epub Aug 05, 2019 


The Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute in Education: paths, connections and disputes (1900-1922)*

IUniversidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil.


This article presents analyses and some of the research results on the contributions of the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute - IHGB) to education. The topics discussed are related to the ways of building knowledge about the history of education in Brazil, the institutional circulation of some members, who also comprised the functional cadres of other educational institutions, the work for the creation of courses and the Academy of Higher Studies. In these terms, we propose to consider the IHGB as a place of present and active power in political conflicts belonging to the educational field, and as an institution that produces educational policies and projects in the first decades of the twentieth century. Publications and minutes of the IHGB Review, archives of the related institutions and periodicals existing during the study, were used as sources for these analyses and arguments.

KEYWORDS: Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute; history of education in Brazil; educational projects


The proposal to examine the connections between the Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (Brazilian Historical and Geographical Institute - IHGB) and educational issues came from the possibility to consider the institution as a place of production of educational policies. Reinforced by Hollanda’s studies on the correlations among IHGB and Colégio Pedro II (Hollanda, 1957), our initial hypothesis demonstrated the existence of a fertile path for the investigations into IHGB’s activities in education.

Additionally, the creation of an educational organization by the Institute enabled us to expand the discussions about IHGB’s participation in educational issues and disputes in the beginning of the 20th century. From this perspective, we were able to identify IHGB’s contributions for different aspects of education in Brazil; as well as to expand possible interpretations about this institution, which had been strongly marked by its imperial origins.

In order to support and strengthen our research path, we relied on distinguished studies and authors to Brazilian educational historiography, which enabled the development and deepening of our initial research topics. By gathering and examining the sources, it was possible to identify significant institutional connections and intellectual exchanges in IHGB. The present article aims to present some of the analyses and results from this research process.

Created “under the immediate protection of His Imperial Majesty Dom Pedro II”1 in 1838, IHGB developed scientific studies on the country’s natural characteristics, its geographical features, and its botanical and historical aspects. Since one of the main goals of IHGB was the development of a national identity, the work of its members aimed to promote the construction of a unified historical narrative, represented by the myth of the three races. According to this interpretation, the Brazilian society was based on the interaction between native indigenous populations, enslaved African people and Portuguese conquerors, who played a main role as Europeans on the process - and mission - to promote the development of the new emerging nation. The Institute also forged an identity based on the idea of continuity between the colonial period and the Brazilian Empire, minimizing the dimensions of political disruption, and stressing the Portuguese legacy and heritage in Brazil.2

Most studies on IHGB’s seminal historical dimension places its activities in the Imperial period, neglecting other facets of this institution. Although the Institute did not figure as a main topic in educational studies, there were a few significant contributions and intriguing projects on education within IHGB. From the approach suggested by Carvalho (2003), we were able to find interesting developments of its presence in education, and to stress methodological traits of this inheritance:

In the case of the genesis of Brazilian educational historiography, the presence of this tradition has not been traced, and I believe it is important not to minimize the role model that IHGB’s tradition might have exercised in the setting of an educational historiography. (Carvalho, 2003, p. 381)

From the researches on the debates and educational ideas circulating at the Institute, we were able to identify the spaces and instances in which these activities occurred in education. Thus, we initially stress important, and even fundamental, connections between the works developed in IHGB and the processes of knowledge construction on the history of education in Brazil. Furthermore, we were able to identify the work of the Institute’s associates in the production of teaching materials for secondary school, as well as their acting as teachers in educational institutions such as Colégio Pedro II.

Moreover, the Institute also developed scientific initiatives, such as the promotion of the Open Conferences and, subsequently, the audacious project of the Academy of High Studies. In this article, we will present some aspects of theoretical and methodological connections between IHGB and the Brazilian history of education, as well as some performances of the Institute in education and its participation in educational policies in the beginning of the 20th century.


Among the major studies about the configuration of the history of education as a research field, the works by Mirian J. Warde (1984, 1990) and Martha Carvalho (1998, 2003) represent important study marks and are fundamental for the identification of IHGB as a producer of knowledge on education.

According to Carvalho (2003), a “memory of the renovators” operated a rearrangement of the History of Education from the field of historical research to the pedagogical area, inserting it as an explanatory tool of the conditions for the development - or not - of the teaching systems and educational thoughts. In this movement, the history of education was not “established as a thematic specialization of History, but as an ‘auxiliary science of education’” (Warde, 1984, p. 3). Even among educational sciences, the History of Education occupied an inferior place in comparison to main disciplines such as Psychology, Sociology, and Biology (Warde, 1984). Such contributions were articulated in order to understand the physiological mechanisms of learning, and to develop scientific forms of intervention in the learning process, but the studies neglected questions about the construction of knowledge and the delimitations of the discipline itself.

The instrumentalization of other disciplines, such as History and Sociology, taken as utilitarian approaches to pedagogical studies, minimized the contributions of the investigative processes and the potentialities for the construction of historical knowledge that such disciplines could offer. This perspective was derived from an interpretation that removed historical studies from experimental bases, at least for the topics of pedagogical interest (Carvalho, 2003, p. 378). In this sense, according to Warde, History was articulated to the extent that it could recover the traces of origin of educational problems and, in some way, justify them in the present:

In its genesis and development, the History of Brazilian Education carries a mark which is structural: that of being born to be useful and to have its effectiveness measured not by what it is able to explain and interpret about objective historical processes of Education, but by what it offers as justifications for the present. (Warde, 1990, p. 8, highlights from the original)

With its insertion in the pedagogical field, the History of Education was configured as a discipline of moral formation and basic repertoire for the formation of teachers, distancing itself from the investigative and analytical field (Carvalho, 2003, p. 378). Still, Warde observes the presence of themes and references of History in the academic production studied by her. According to the author, the historical knowledge and theoretical contributions of historiography were mobilized, in some studies, as large interpretative models, within which the educational problems or themes represented the “examples” of these contexts. In consonance with Warde (1984), Carvalho (2003) identifies a constant recurrence to Marxist references (Warde, 1984, p. 4), for which, the economic determinations and structural inflections would irradiate the interpretations on historical processes.

In this scenario, Warde (1984) and Carvalho (2003) note an internal movement of thinking and redefinitions of the discipline which, in its trajectory, its research field and potentialities are redimensioned. Thus, Mirian Warde’s (1984, 1990) works establish analysis and mappings about the construction and rearrangements of Brazilian History of Education as a research field. Warde identifies at least two moments of inflection in this redefinition process. The first would be during the 1940s and 1950s, with the production of reference works, such as A Cultura Brasileira, by Fernando de Azevedo, and several educational reforms. These study and research approaches - or the so-called “azevedian” matrix - were consolidated as a model for a historiography about education in graduate programs in Education created in the 1970s.

The second moment was the one of the theoretical and methodological renovations of the History of Education based on closer contacts with historiographical practices of the historical field during the 1980s, which were also in a process of redefinition. The contact with the historiographical production of Cultural History, according to the authors, would have represented an important turning movement to studies on the History of Education. The regard to education as a space of disputes and construction of meaning for reality, also inserted into social dynamics, reconfigured the history of education as a research field. The educational area was understood as integral and active in its relations with the political, economic and social environments; being culture “a good place to locate it.” The study of these aspects would not be, “therefore, a departure from the social [sphere] [...], on the contrary, it consists in locating the most decisive and the less immediate material points of confrontation” (Chartier, 1990, p. 27). Education is not isolated from political, ideological and cultural tensions that affect other spheres of reality; it is one of the axes on which spaces of legitimation are constructed and contested. Locating it in the cultural space allows us to observe the different projects that compete and coexist over the same period.

In this movement, the approaches of educational topics from theoretical frameworks of Cultural History allowed the identification of other forms of teaching and learning beyond school practices (Azanha, 1991). These were also revisited. Interpreted under its internal logic, the school space was observed as a producer of practices and knowledges, in which teachings and doctrines are expressed by different means, not only in exhibitions of content. Thus, studies on the history of disciplines (Chervel, 1990), the school culture (Julia, 2001) and architecture (Escolano, 2001) put in evidence aspects marginalized by the analysis produced theretofore.

The studies on the History of Education developed from this scenario opened new paths to access other spaces and agents in the historical overview of educational experiences, as well as in the course of the construction of knowledge on the subject in Brazil. When analyzing these aspects, Carvalho (2003) underlined the potential of tracking contributions of places such as IHGB in debates about education, and even as a space for the promotion of education:

It is necessary to also consider that, in Brazil, unlike other Latin American countries, the university is a recent institution. That is why the strong presence of the historiographical tradition produced by the Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute, in the genesis of the Historical studies in Brazil, is an uncontroversial matter. (Carvalho, 2003, p. 381, my highlights)

If along the 20th century these issues were built in scholarly environments, until the mid-1920s, the spaces for discussion on education (Nora, 1993) were distributed among associations, political instances and academic circles such as the Institute. Accordingly, we seek to identify the dialogue not always explicit between these two fields; on one hand, the official place for the production of a historical narrative in Brazil, concerned with great political and identity questions, namely, IHGB; on the other hand, an increasing demand for knowledge about the construction course of educational policies, methodologies and ideas coming from another discipline, the Pedagogical studies.


Studies such as the ones by Martha Carvalho (1998, 2003), Diana Vidal and Luciano M. Faria Filho (2003), and Moysés Kuhlmann Jr. (1999) seek to map the trajectories followed by researches on the History of Education in Brazil throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In this panorama, interests in teaching and education in the historiographical works made by IHGB’s associates were evinced.

In consonance with the statement presented by Carvalho (1998; 2003), the study by Vidal and Faria Filho (2003) maps the construction of the research field and discussions about Brazilian History of Education. The tracking bias intends to take the historiographical tradition consolidated by IHGB as a reference in the work of compiling sources, related both to national and educational history in the country.

Having the “goal of collect, methodize, publish or archive the necessary documents for the history and geography of Brazilian Empire” (Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Brasil, v. I, 1839, p. 18), the trajectory of some of IHGB’s members allowed the gathering of documents for the production of works on Brazilian public instruction in the Imperial period, mostly legal texts and statistical data. According to the authors, these first studies favored the Second Reign and had a political purpose to exalt the imperial actions towards education, being “propaganda pieces of the Imperial State” (Vidal and Faria Filho, 2003).

Among the members who had contributed to the publication of significant works for the History of Education, there are the works by Santa-Anna Nery (1848-1901) in the 1884 text, L’instruction publique au Brésil. In this text, Nery statistically demonstrated the educational “advancement” achieved in Brazil, through the expansion of primary school in the provinces and the school attendance of students. It is also possible to highlight the works by José Ricardo Pires de Almeida (1843-1913) and, among them, Vidal and Faria Filho (2003) emphasize the importance of the 1889 L’instruction publique au Brésil (1500-1889) for future studies on educational legislation. This work also had the goal of valuing the Imperial regime in opposition to the Latin American Republican governments, aiming to exalt the greater efficacy of the Monarchical regime, in educational terms and in “civilizing progress”, than the Republican ones.3

Considering the historiographical tradition consolidated by IHGB, such as the work of compiling sources and analyzing significant themes to the construction of national history and to the debates and productions of its associates, the authors point out that “the clear link between Pires de Almeida and the Historical Institute unexpectedly establishes a connection between disciplines (History and Education) that apparently had separated trajectories” (Vidal and Faria Filho, 2003). Moreover, they point out to the relation among the works of Primitivo Moacyr to the tradition forged by the Institute, even though he was not a member. His proximity to IHBG’s production happened:

Either by the primacy of collecting and methodizing documents, either by the recourse to the publications of the Institute and authors linked to it in the elaboration of the text, or either by the initial praise, made by Peixoto, which situates Moacyr as a heir to a tradition that goes back to one of the most celebrated characters of the Institute, his former secretary, Varnhagen. (Vidal and Faria Filho, 2003)

Thus being, it is possible to observe the characterization of what is called a “first strand” followed by the historiography of education in Brazil in the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries, which had a remarkable influence from the historical methodology shaped by the Institute. This strand was strong enough, according to Carvalho, to the point of being detected even in the “renovators”’ publications. An example would be the presence of Primitivo Moacyr’s works in Coleção Brasiliana [Brazilian Collection], by Editora Companhia Nacional, between 1931 and 1954, a period in which the collection was under the coordination of Fernando de Azevedo.

IHGB’s heritage comes from the recognition of this methodological compilation and publication of thematic information. Even in the analytical purpose, founder of Azevedo’s publications, it is possible to recognize this practice. For Carvalho (2003) and Warde (1984), it is only from 1950, with Laerte Ramos de Carvalho’s work and the connections with Educational Philosophy and Sociology, that educational themes are put into analytical perspectives within “a project to construct an autonomous Brazilian History of Education, supported by original documentary surveys, and capable of covering the development of the public educational system” (Warde, 1984, p. 93).

Moysés Kuhlmann Jr. (1999) deepened the analysis and mapped these intersections, allowing us to identify other aspects of IHGB’s presence in studies on the History of Education in Brazil. Analyzing the works produced for National and International Exhibitions occurred in late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kuhlmann Jr. (1999) observes the intense participation of IHGB’s members in these events. Therefore, he demonstrates that the “Brazilian educational progress” was delivered as the main evidential factor that Brazil was following the “progress [path] of civilized nations” (Kuhlmann Jr., 1999, p. 160). Still according to Kuhlmann Jr. (1999, p. 163):

It is a procedure that seems to follow the trail pointed at the Exposition of Brazilian History, in 1881, which aimed to boost the elaboration of our history, the history of every sectors and institutions that would represent this modern civilization’s pillars, among them, the history of Brazilian education.

Accordingly, the Institute left some influential works and conceptions in the constitution of the field of educational research. Among these contributions, Kuhlmann Jr. (1999) stresses the actions of Manuel Porfírio de Oliveira Santos and Benjamin Franklin Ramiz Galvão, who, according to the author, “was present in various events related to exhibitions and education” (Kuhlmann Jr., 1999, p. 159). Responsible for the selection and bearing of literary, historical and scientific works that dealt with the various necessary aspects to the study of Brazilian History in 1881, Ramiz Galvão organized a catalog of works that corresponded to a detailed thematic classification, in which the public instruction is present. This work was developed due to the Exposition, but his interest in educational issues was not restricted to the event.

For Kuhlmann Jr. (1999, p. 170), “the works regarding public instruction in the catalog are not historiographical but they express the need for this type of production by listing those that would be the sources for that”, which outlines an impulse to historical investigation and discussion about these sources, as Kuhlmann Jr. (1999) observes in other publications that have taken this documentary set as a material for analysis.

Following the proposal to set up a historical panorama of the construction of “a civilized nation”, the Livro do Centenário [Centenary Book], coordinated by Ramiz Galvão, was produced for the commemorations of the Discovery’s Fourth Centenary in 1900.4 The work, which brought the discourse of progress linked to the Republican regime, attributed the - supposed - success of education to the elevation “of a lower race [...] to a growing people” (Kuhlmann Jr., 1999, p. 173). In this work, Ramiz Galvão stressed the existence of several texts related to public instruction, but which retain the nationalist character and the aspect of materials’ and documentation’s synthesis.

In 1922, the Institute promoted the publication of the Diccionario Historico, Geographico and Ethnographico do Brasil [Historical, Geographical and Ethnographical Dictionary of Brazil], which was mostly based on the documentary set of the other productions; however, it develops a more critical thinking and discussion on educational themes. Another work coordinated by Ramiz Galvão, the Diccionario possessed a chapter called Instrução Pública, notícia histórica de 1822 a 1922, resenha da evolução [Public Instruction, historical news from 1822 to 1922, review of the evolution], authored by Manuel Porfírio de Oliveira Santos, honorary member of the Institute. According to Kuhlmann Jr. (1999), this text suggested a more reflective approach to education and to problems detected in public instruction. Beginning with the evidence of insufficient capacity to administer and promote primary and secondary education that regional governments have been demonstrating since the 19th century (Kuhlmann Jr., 1999), either due to budgetary difficulties or the lack of national parameters.

It is also possible to identify in Oliveira Santos the awareness of the necessity to discuss education in a historicized form, because, according to Kuhlmann Jr. (1999, p. 173):

The history of instruction in Brazil, for Oliveira Santos, should be studied under two points of view: the changes by which [education] have been passing [considering the reforms, and local and regional adaptations throughout the colonial periods, monarchic regime, and Republican federation], and the laws constituted in our legislation.

Oliveira Santos presents a structure of analysis that connects documentary criticism to historical thinking. Santos’s text proposes a follow-up of governmental actions together with the observation of contemporary processes of changes and adaptations of educational systems (Kuhlmann Jr., 1999, p. 175). Even though he notices the mismatch between projects and the realization of the proposals, Santos outlines a positive opinion towards governmental actions in the Republic’s early years. From his analysis, Santos observes the increase of educational institutions, school population and percentage of literacy, resorting once more on the statistics, and presenting the expected conclusion to the purpose of the work. Although some educational studies happened under certain conditions of production in function to government interests, their retrospect reinforces the effectiveness of the Institute’s relations with the construction of knowledge about education throughout the evinced period.

The construction of these connections’ panorama allowed us to identify other forms of the Institute’s participation in educational matters, mainly following the members of the Institute’s circulation and sociability. In addition, it was possible to revisit the political and academic role of IHGB - a monarchic institution - in the beginning of 20th century, in which it developed significant activities in education under the Republican regime.


In order to understand the process of circulation of debates on education and of movements that boosted the creation of educational projects, such as the Open Conferences and, later, the Academy of High Studies, it was necessary to locate other places and institutions of which the members of the Institute were also part. The connections between IHGB and Colégio Pedro II, for example, can be observed since the founding movements of a national project which they were part.

Colégio Pedro II was created as a model institution for the organization of secondary studies in the Empire. Focused on the formation of the economic and political elites, it was aimed at ministering a broad and erudite culture for future leaders. From a humanistic to a modern scientific curriculum, it was adapted to socio-political conformations throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Additionally, it also exercised a propaedeutic function for the access to a higher education in the metropolis and other institutions of the Empire (Haidar, 1972). Colégio Pedro II functioned as a strategic space to produce educational policies, as well as an environment of social prestige. Therefore, the presence and circulation of its teachers in IHGB and of the Institute’s members in the school was endorsed by the socio-political function of the two institutions.

The social and institutional roles played by IHGB and Colégio Pedro II - both created in the 1830s - represent, at least, complementary functions: while the former was characterized as the space of intellectual discussion and construction of scientific and historical knowledge in the period, the latter was commissioned to construct, in a scholarly form, the social structure of the Empire and its political maintenance (Haidar, 1972). Other aspects demonstrate the relationship between the curricula, Colégio Pedro II’s compendium and IHGB’s members (Hollanda, 1957, p. 15). According to Bittencourt (1993, p. 204), most of the teaching materials produced between the end of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th were authored by the Institute’s members and/or Colégio Pedro II’s teachers - later National Gymnasium, after the Republic’s proclamation.

This approach is especially observed in history teaching. In this double movement, the Institute acts as a place of legitimacy to produce an academic historical knowledge and, therefore, an instance authorized to “translate” these knowledges into courseware. It signs, according to Bittencourt (1993), to a gradual movement of national didactic production, which operated in two ways: distancing from the import and translation of French educational materials and, at the same time, expressing in the scholarly sphere the official historical knowledge and “national memory” produced by the Institute.

Thus being, it plays an important role in the process of guiding what should be taught. It is interesting to notice, according to Bittencourt (1993, p. 203), the existence of a simultaneous recognition of the importance of this type of production, which creates a kind of “didactic historiography”, and an obliviousness of these works in the careers of these “academic scientists”. The difficulty in identifying authors and didactic works evinces this distinction of values attributed to their works.

Considering the effective social and political interconnections of the two institutions, it was possible to track some names that transited in both of them, as well as in other political and educational spheres. From this survey, it was possible to construct Chart 1, to express these relationships.

Chart 1 - Partners, teachers and politicians. 

Name Admission to IHGB Membership Areas of Expertise

  • Justiniano José da Rocha

  • (1812-1862)

03/26/1845 Effective History teacher at C. Pedro II

  • Joaquim Manuel de Macedo

  • (1820-1882)

04/18/1848 Corresponding

  • Ancient History and Geography teacher at C. Pedro II

  • Courseware author

  • B. Franklin Ramiz Galvão

  • (1846-1938)

08/16/1872 Effective

  • Greek and Brazilian literature teacher at C. Pedro II

  • One of the idealizers of IHGB’s Academy of High Studies

  • Rector of the University of Rio de Janeiro (1920)

  • General Director of Public Education of the Federal District

  • Max Fleiüss

  • (1868-1943)

08/03/1900 Perpetual Secretary

  • Influential Partner in IHGB

  • Author of didactic material

  • One of the idealizers Academy of High Studies of the IHGB

  • Sílvio V. da S. Ramos Romero

  • (1851-1914)

08/23/1901 Effective History teacher at C. Pedro II

  • Epitácio L. da Silva Pessoa

  • (1865-1942)

03/29/1907 Benefactors

  • Presidency of the Republic (1919-1922)

  • One of the authors of Epitácio Pessoa Code (1901)

  • Rivadávia da Cunha Corrêa

  • (1866-1920)

05/04/1910 Honorary

  • Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs (1910-1913)

  • One of the authors of Rivadavia Corrêa Reform (1911)

  • Alberto S. M. Torres

  • (1865-1917)

10/03/1910 Benefactors

  • President of the State of Rio de Janeiro (1887-1900)

  • IHGB Academy of High Studies Enthusiast

  • Luís G. d’Escragnolle Dória

  • (1869-1948)

05/04/1912 Effective

  • Universal History and History of Brazil teacher at C. Pedro II

  • Participation in the educational Reforms of 1926 and 1929

  • Carlos Maximiliano P. dos Santos

  • (1873-1960)

10/16/1913 Honorary

  • Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs (1914-1918);

  • One of the authors of Carlos Maximiliano Reform (1915)

  • João Batista Ribeiro

  • (1860-1934)

05/12/1914 Effective

  • Universal History and History of Brazil teacher at C. Pedro II;

  • History courseware author

  • Jonathas A. de S. Serrano

  • (1855-1944)

05/24/1919 Effective

  • Member of the Brazilian Association of Education

  • History of Brazil and Latin teacher at C. Pedro II

  • Afrânio Peixoto

  • (1876-1947)

06/16/1919 Effective

  • Brazilian Academy of Letters (1910-1947)

  • Principal at Regular School of Rio de Janeiro (1915)

  • Director of Public Education of the Federal District (1916)

  • Carlos M. Delgado de Carvalho

  • (1884-1980)

08/06/1921 Effective Universal History teacher at C. Pedro II

  • João Luís Alves

  • (1870-1925)

09/05/1923 Effective

  • Minister of Justice and Interior Affairs (1922-1925)

  • One of the authors of João Luiz Alves Reform - Rocha Vaz (1925)

IHGB: Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro.

Source: Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, v. VII, 1846; v. VI, 1849; v. 742, 1911; Cadastro de Sócios, v. 752, 1912; v. 762, 1913; v. 772, 1914; v. 782, 1915; v. 92, 1922; v. 164, 1931; v. 182, 1944; Colégio Pedro II, 1900-1925.

Organized by the chronology of members’ admission to the Institute and with notes about activities in education, the chart allowed us to observe other aspects of equivalent interests, besides the relations of the associates with Colégio Pedro II. The chronological snippet does not focus on the Imperial period, even though the discussion presented hitherto points out to IHGB’s contributions as an official institution to produce knowledge, as it was during the 19th century. If the period was enlarged, we would have observed even more connections between Colégio Pedro II’s teachers and the social frame of IHGB, besides other producers of educational materials. However, the presented periodization also addresses the first decades of the Republican period, and fundaments other research pathways.

Studies on IHGB commonly discuss the trajectory of the Institute throughout the 19th century, emphasizing the role model exercised in the national historiographical field. With the proclamation of the Republic, some interpretations point out to the decline of the institution’s social and financial prestige and its output of the country’s political and cultural landscape, decreasing its importance and representativeness from then on. However, the first decades of the 20th century represent important moments of inflection in the history of the Institute. As one of the main references to the approach of this movement, Gomes (2009) inserts IHGB precisely in this scenario of political transition and considerable activity in the educational field. Accordingly, Guimarães (2006) narrates the history of the institution from its reconfigurations under the Republican regime. Such discussions help to elucidate the permanence of the relations between the Institute and Colégio Pedro II, then National Gymnasium, during the first years of the Republic, as it is possible to observe in Chart 1, as well as the presence of Republican political personalities also linked to educational spheres.

Gomes (2009) establishes parallels between the socio-political changes occurring in Brazil and Portugal in the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, and the way they reflected on the historical thinking and the place of history in political projects of the two countries. In both cases, Gomes (2009, p. 31) identifies History and teaching as fields of disputes in the processes of legitimation of political systems. In the Brazilian case, IHGB was pressured to resignify its own historical practice, which should adapt to the new demands of historical rooting and the construction of political authority in the republican system.

Thus, Gomes (2009) observes not only a change in the narrative, which was becoming about people and for people, but also in the posture assumed by some of the Institute’s members. Other questions emerge from these propositions, such as: who are these “people”? Did it already exist, or would it still be invented? Valuable indications derived from this, regarding the institutional circulation of IHGB, and their relations with the educational context.

The presence of some well-known names in educational circles and, especially, associated with changes in educational policies, as the reforms of the 1920s, indicates a rapprochement movement between the Institute and its members in the new political regime. In the process of composition of the social framework, it was a strategy of coexistence adopted by the Institute to harbor among its members who were also part of other political, economic and social spheres (Certeau, 1998). This approach has enabled the maintenance of some patronage relationships with the State during the Republic. For instance, Fleiüss reports that when he says that: “it was Rodrigues Alves who regularized [understood as consistency of publications] the Institute’s services of publication and its expedient in Imprensa Nacional [National Press] and in the proceedings of Diário Oficial [Official Gazette]” (Fleiüss, 1942, p. 155).

Therefore, the identification of some names related to education, such as Epitácio Pessoa, Rivadávia Correa, Carlos Maximiliano and João Luís Alves, signs an interest in educational policy. Furthermore, in this analysis of institutional networks and circulations of which IHGB was part, another presence attracted our attention. Carlos Miguel Delgado de Carvalho, member of the Institute since 1921 (Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, 1922, v. 92) and a teacher at Colégio Pedro II, was a founding member of the Brazilian Association of Education and, in 1924, was widely involved in educational movements of the 1920s and 1930s (Carvalho, 1998, p. 100), particularly the Reform of Francisco Campos.5

If we consider Hollanda’s indications regarding the maintenance of the congregation of Colégio Pedro II as a deliberative instance regarding educational reforms and national curricula, even after the creation of the Ministry of Education and Public Health (Hollanda, 1957, p. 13), IHGB’s members also belonged to circles of political decisions on education. In addition, some of the aforementioned names proposed reforms or legislation on education at different times, showing proximity to political decision-making environments.

We can also stress that education, as a Republican demand of social transformation, would be a privileged aspect in the new regime and symbolized an important space for political and institutional action. The interpretation of the country’s political and cultural situation, and the tactical operation within these settings enabled the operations made by IHGB during this period.

Thus, even before the developments of the Republic, some associates have shown concerns over educational matters: “the connections of these intellectuals with educational issues, in a broad sense” would be associated with the belief “in the transforming power of written word’s culture and education” (Gomes, 2009, p. 20). This allows us to associate these concerns and the movements around effective projects and actions, such as initiatives of “social reformers”. Gomes (2009) gives an active dimension to the associates’ works, which, according to her, “it is essential to pay attention to the practices of those, who, facing the historical studies, have dedicated themselves to write school textbooks or books of children’s literature, with evident educational goals” (Gomes, 2009, p. 16). The approach indicated by the author enables us to observe the history of the Institute in these first years of the Republic in a different manner, opposing the interpretations that ascribe inertia and apathy to IHGB in the Second Reign’s later years.

This approach also disagrees with the literature that comprehends the period as “the Republic that was not”,6 which interprets the first years of the Republican regime as stagnant in comparison to the expectations of social and political development associated with the idea of a republic. Thus, it is possible to reconsider the period as an important inflection point for the ongoing social changes and the historical narrative in general. It makes possible to identify the rising of scientific and scientificist discourses that manifest, to a certain extent, the usefulness of their knowledge in function of other demands. In this panorama, there are also concerns with the history as it is taught, seen as a space for the shaping of the citizen to the Republic, and as a form to consolidate a Republican political culture.

Together with the political changes experienced during the period, the cultural and scientific effervescence of the turn of the 19th century was felt. The movements of scientific dissemination and institutionalization of the spaces of knowledge production were also present in the Brazilian scenario, and in IHGB. Initiatives such as the Open Conferences and the Academy of High Studies’ project dialogue and occur in specific times, what would be called by Sirinelli (2003, p. 68), as the sensitivities of the time.


In studies about the processes of scientific knowledge dissemination, the conferences are characterized as spaces of presentations, lectures aimed at a generic public, promoted by intellectuals seeking to spread the “lights” beyond their study cabinet (Bastos, 2002, p. 3). The practices of promoting open encounters between literate and a general audience can be observed since the 18th century. According to Moura (1874), they can be located in Prussian feuilleton from the late 18th century. In the second quarter of the 19th century, such meetings would have expanded across Europe, with greater adherence and activities in France (Moura, 1874, p. 25). At first, they would have emerged as a form of presentation of literary productions and, subsequently, as spaces for wide formation of primary teachers for school systems in organization in European countries (Bastos, 2002).

In Brazil, they were linked to private personal initiatives or to institutes of education, like colleges and schools; and of research, such as museums, institutes and associations (Moura, 1874 p. 34). Some of these activities can be found around the 1870s, such as those performed by Antônio Cândido da Cunha Leitão, in Aracaju (Bastos, 2002).

In this panorama, the Parish of Glória’s Conferences were promoted. Initially organized by Manuel Francisco Correia, counsellor to Emperor Pedro II and secretary of government, the Conferences of Glória were held between 1873 and 1890 in the city of Rio de Janeiro (Fonseca, 1996). Manuel Correia saw in the practice of conferences a way of presenting political and general knowledge issues to a wider public. Such interests approach the European practice, but, in Brazil, conferences also generated a possibility of non-formal education in the country.7 The conferences were organized in serial publications with the title of Conferencias Populares [Popular Conferences]. In his presentation, Correia (1875, my highlights) expresses the project’s aims:

One of the institutions that, lasting more than two years, have found the best reception from part of the public, is that of the Popular Conferences, which have been done with the highest regularity in the hall of the building of the public schools of the Gloria’s parish. The first was on November 23 1873, and from then on there has been no interruption, being the population of this city already used to this useful entertainment. [...] They will serve to patent the intellectual advancement of the country, the oratory talent of its children, and due to the variety of the covered topics, the extent of the studies among us. [...] We are persuaded that we provide a very important service to the country. [...] We cast to earth the seed, in the firm belief that the well-known patriotism of Brazilians will make it fruitful. If, unfortunately, our attempt is poorly succeeded, which we do not expect, we will have at least given the irrefragable testimony of our sincere desire to compete for the monument of the civilization of Brazil.

In this presentation, we can identify again a tendency to present the problems and advances of the country to its inhabitants, spreading the desire and need for the society’s development in a broader way. The “seed” should probably be launched by those who identify the problems, or who had requirements for such diagnosis and also knew the ways for their solution. Such activities are also identified as popular, pedagogical or literary, maintaining the role of public space and free dissemination of knowledge (Carula, 2007). It is important to mention that, although they constituted an environment of knowledge and instruction circulation in Brazil, the conferences did not assume a character of education or formal instruction, nor did they play an alternative role to this; they worked as another form of knowledge dissemination and culture promotion.8

Inserted in a literate tradition of incentive of lectures and debates, the conferences appeared as environments for the insertion and circulation of new ideas, political discussions and spaces for debates about social problems. Moreover, they become environments for displaying oratory skills and political postures. In Bastos’s perspective, the conferences went from promoters of knowledge and broadcasters of the illustration to political stages of partisan discussions and rhetorical exaltations. (Bastos, 2002, p. 15). The cycle of lectures promoted by IHGB a few years later is certainly a tributary of this model of conferences of the late 19th century.


Preceded by speeches and debates, such as those by Alberto Torres, who discussed the political duties and educational potentialities of the Institute, especially in the processes of reconfiguration of the current power in the country, IHGB’s Open Conferences signalize the first efforts in this posture, albeit differently from those outlined by Torres in those debates.

The initial proposal of these conferences was the dissemination of general knowledge - as well as the Conferences of Gloria and those practiced in Europe -, besides the promotion of interaction and opening of activities to other publics previously excluded from the dynamics of the Institute, they still had a factor of distinction and prestige as assurances of their works’ relevance. In the conferences, explanations about the current situation of the country were given, as well as some possibilities for improvements. It is also possible to say that the lectures’ dynamics responded to the necessity detected by the associates to “present Brazil to Brazilians”’ and somehow extend this idea to other circles.

In Chart 2, we have the distribution of speakers, topics of classes and occurrences in the period from 1913 to 1915.

Chart 2 - Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro (IHGB)’s Open Conferences. 

Speaker Theme/Title of the presentation Dates Publications in the IHGB’s Magazine
Alberto Rangel General Aspects of Brazil

  • December 02, 09 and 23 1913;

  • January 08 and 13 1914

Volume 761-1913 p. 453-517 and Volume 781-1915 p. 3-4
José Vieira Fazenda Aspects of the Brazilian regency period February 06 and 08 1914 Volume 771-1914 p. 255-288 and Volume781-1915 p. 3- 4
Basílio de Magalhães Expansion and formation of the Brazilian territory due to the “Bandeirantes”

  • May 18 1914;

  • June 03 1914

Volume 771-1914 p. 385-398 and Volume 781-1915 p. 3-4
Antonio Gonçalves Pereira da Silva Old vehicles in Rio de Janeiro July 30 1914 Record not found
Aurelino Leal History of the Constitution in Brazil

  • October 15, 23 and 29 1914;

  • November 05 and 11 1914

Volume 772-1914 p. 485-488 and Volume 781-1915 p. 3 - 4
Arthur Pinto da Rocha Diplomatic History of Brazil

  • December 25 1914;

  • January 07 and 21 1914;

  • February 04 and 18 1915;

  • March 04 1915

Volume 781-1915 p.3-4; 345-368
Augusto Olympio Viveiros de Castro Diplomatic History of Brazil

  • April 22 and 29 1915;

  • May 06 and 20 1915;

  • June 03 1915

  • Volume 782-1915 p. 542- 602

  • Volume 781-1915 p. 3- 4

Ernesto da Cunha de Araujo Vianna Brazilian Plastic Arts Course in five lessons (dates not found) Volume 782 -1915 p. 506-608 and Volume 781-1915 p. 3-4
Ramalho Ortigão Financial History of Brazil Dates not found Volume 781-1915 p. 3 -4

Source: based on the information found at Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, Tomo 781, 1915, p. 3-4.

The conferences’ program varied according to the availability of the speakers. Some had longer durations, being identified as courses, and were published in the annexes of the institute’s magazine.9 Although it is not possible to identify or even quantify the public of these conferences, we can infer that the longevity of some themes is related to the expectations of the audience that was reached. Either through the search for social distinction, through the possibility of attending a space such as the Institute; either by the practical and/or professional utilities of such knowledge, the frequency of events and the recurrence of economic and historical matters (such as Diplomatic History, Taxes and General Aspects of Brazil) indicate a good reception of the initiative.

The lectures departed from chronological historical explanations to the conjunctural analyses of the historical periods, with attention to the processes of the proclamation of the Republic. Generally, the topics with the greatest number of classes - which were designated as courses - have a considerable number of pages in IHGB’s Magazine, while some others counted only one or two classes, hence, they were not reproduced in the records. In addition, the themes aimed to offer knowledge and discussions on issues that were considered as important and, sometimes, problematic matters in that context.

The participation of Count Afonso Celso as a lecturer in the tribune of Glória, discussing the conditions of compulsory education in Brazil, aroused our interest. Entitled Em que condições pode ser instituído o Ensino obrigatório no Brasil [In what conditions compulsory education can be instituted in Brazil], it was the 9th lecture in the tribune of Glória, on December 28th, 1873. Afonso Celso discussed questions about compulsory education, which he demonstrates to be favorable of and celebrated the debates on education promoted by the Conferences of Glória.

In his lecture, Afonso Celso also discusses the benefits of freedom of education and the gains that particular - or private - action could bring to the task of disseminating teaching and knowledge in Brazilian society. Therefore, he understands that it is also incumbent to the “literate” the function of, in aid of political and administrative activity of the State, enabling the country’s progress through broad and productive knowledge. Finally, Afonso Celso includes himself in the process of founding the so-called Sociedade Propagadora da Instrução Pública na Corte [Society for the Propagation of Public Instruction at the Court], which would be responsible for organizing the conferences since 1874. Although it seems contradictory to defend private participation in an activity declared as a state function, this position allows personal actions with political and ideological engagements in the educational field, without, necessarily, going against the interests and projects of the current State, almost as non-partisan actions.

When analyzing the transcripts of these conferences, it is necessary to pay attention to two important elements for their understanding: the orality and the objectives of the lecture. The question of the manifestation of orality in the narrative of the documents related to the Institute configures another characteristic factor for the analyses of these courses. According to Sousa (2012, p. 22): “The presence of performance is a trace of the writing of history and sociability in IHGB [...], in reality, [it] precedes the printed text, and the text bears the marks of orality.” The posture of the speaker, the conduction of the explanation on a theme, passes through all the construction of the transmitted and discussed knowledge in the conference, of which the speaker’s rhetoric abilities are a part. Such elements resemble the discussion of Noguès (2011, p. 88) on the French faculties of the 19th century, mainly from the Restoration (1815-1830) in which the classes in the faculties, had gained a more “spectacle” aspect than the actual scientific or training goals. In addition to the desire to present Brazil to Brazilians, the promotion of conferences can be read as a domain expression about certain knowledge and ability to transmit them; a kind of demonstration of authority to teach.


The Rivadavia Correa’s reform, of 1911, readdressed several questions in debate in the higher education field, among them, discussions about what would be the responsibilities of the State in relation to the organization, regulation and creation of higher education institutions (Cunha, 1986). In a synthetic way, the reform turned the freedom of teaching into a practice, allowing the creation of higher education establishments that could work with their own resources, not depending on State subsidies for this. Thus, the expansion of unofficial higher education institutions happened, but they were subjected to State inspections.

Within this new legislative panorama and driven by the positive results of the open conference’s cycles of 1914, the proposal for organizing a High Studies School to be founded and directed by IHGB was presented in the session of October 12th, 1915. Secretary Max Fleiüss presented the proposal, a collaboration with Mr. Manuel de Oliveira Lima and Carlos Delgado de Carvalho. According to Fleiüss, Oliveira Lima would have helped him to mature the idea of a teaching institution along with the elaboration of course programs to be offered. Before exposing the structuring project of the School, Fleüiss stresses the importance of the movements of the Institute in favor of courses and conferences and emphasizes the recognition of these activities. The minutes resume Oliveira Lima’s praises to the recent activities of IHGB:

Mr. FLEIUSS [1st perpetual secretary] says that the Institute has heard, thanks to the decisive support of the egregious Mr. President Count AFFONSO CELSO, to give full execution to the idea of the eminent associate Mr. Dr. Manuel de Oliveira Lima, regarding the School of High Studies. Mr. Oliveira Lima, in repeated letters of the speaker, has manifested his great applause, recognizing that the most brilliant courses held at the Institute by Mr. Basilio de Magalhães, Mr. Aurelino Leal, Mr. Pinto da Rocha, Mr. Viveiros de Castro, Mr. Ramalho Ortigão and Mr. Araujo Vianna constitute the school it was projected. (Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, v. 782, 1915, p. 789)

As much as the open conferences were good experiences, a kind of didactic laboratory, the political goals and developments of the subsequent projects entered different spheres of action. As already mentioned, the conferences addressed general topics, without curricular or programmatic determinations, with the prospect of thinking about Brazil and of presenting it to a public outside the Institute, promoting discussions and disseminating knowledge. The structuring of the project of the High Studies School intends to offer a course of technical instruction and training for future occupants of public positions. The document written by Oliveira Lima was read in the same session of October 12th, presenting the purposes of the School as well as the curricula of the courses to be offered. The excerpt shows some of the trajectory of thinking and the models chosen as parameters for the courses:

I congratulate - once again for the brilliant initiative of the courses [conferences] of the Institute and I send you a summary of the program of the School of Political and Administrative Sciences made by Delgado de Carvalho, of a larger work that he had elaborated. I think this program is great. It is based on the programs of the School of Political Sciences of Paris, the École dês Hautes Études Commerciales and the London School of Economics and Political Science the indispensable technical part, reducing it to smaller proportions. It adapts the aforementioned programs to the necessities of Brazilian administration, facilitating to our students the public functions. To journalism and political life. [...] The School of High Studies is designed to prepare workers for the Ministries of Foreign, Economy and Agriculture, Industry and Commerce and for the state administrations. (Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, v. 782, 1915, p. 790, highlights from the original)

Carefully observing the institutions profile that supported the structures and programs of the School of High Studies, we can trace the aspirations and projections to it. The mentioned French schools were created in the end of the 19th century with the aim of offering a scientific and academic formation to the French elites. From these institutions came the subsequent generations of leadership and political command, as well as the economic elites. Initially founded as private institutions, they were incorporated into the State’s educational system, but maintained their statutes of administrative and academic autonomy. In this process, they established rigid selection programs and training trajectories, building a reputation of social and political prestige and scientific recognition.

Generally, these institutions’ proposal focuses on the formation of elites and their placement in the sphere of public administration, following the model of the French Grande École. This notion implies the formation of groups and successors that passed through the model or by the indoctrination of these schools and, in the projected case, of IHGB. In this scenario, the Institute would play an important role in the process of cultural, political and academic formation of a governmental system still under construction.

Nevertheless, the School of High Studies, as presented and organized in the end of 1915, did not enter the operation. Although it was inaugurated in March 1916, the structure of the program, and even the organization of the institution, continued to be altered and debated during the following weeks of its inauguration. Thus, in addition to the name for the Academy of High Studies,10 the courses to be offered by the newly created Academy were also altered. The inclusion of a grid for a course in Philosophy and Letters generated an interesting movement within the institution.

The Academy was officially inaugurated on March 25th, 1916. The institution has added several well-known names, such as Clóvis Beviláqua, Epitácio Pessoa, Edgard Roquette Pinto, Jonathas Serrano and Afrânio Peixoto, in its teaching staff. The Academy reached the mark of 529 classes taught until the end of the 1917 (O Imparcial, 1918). During 1918, other reformulations were made in the statutes and curricula of the courses, until March 1919, when the IHGB’s Faculty of Philosophy and Letters emerged. In this last reform, besides the name, the Higher Normal Course was created for the formation of teachers destined for the secondary magisterium. This last period of the institution was marked by political conflicts and legal impasses, being the last records of activities found around 1922.


As a School or an Academy, it is possible to say that the educational projects represented a significant mobilization around the Institute’s activities in education, serving as bases for the development of a profile of an educational institution originated in the Institute. Thus, we can understand the presence of IHGB in education in three aspects: from the methodological bases of compiling sources for the study of educational subjects; by the circulation of its members in educational institutions and political and administrative spheres of education; and for the production of educational projects, and politicians, and their participation in the teaching system under construction in the period studied.

If the Open Conferences represented a space for acquiring social experiences, having IHGB, in partnership with the National Library, the role of promoter of a different cultural practices comparing to the usual assemblies and conferences, the organization of an educational institution such as the Academy, and, subsequently, the Faculties, represents a firm decision of the Institute to participate in the debates and conflicts inscribed in the context of teaching, and of education as a whole in that period.

The curricular and statutory reforms, and the changes of name (School, Academy and Faculty), responded to other demands beyond the internal discussions and the expansion of the courses. However, we identify that such movements were aimed at obtaining permission to issue certifications (degrees) and to ensure documentation recognition by other State institutions. Significant oppositions to this objective and the IHGB’s project emphasize the complexity and centrality that educational issues possess in the political game of building and legitimizing a social order. Thus, we were able to observe the Institute as one of the agents that participated in the disputes that occurred in the field in the first decades of the 20th century, paying special attention to the relations established with the political changes that occurred in the parish. In this sense, we seek to understand the educational activity of IHGB as a movement to expand the activities of the institution, aiming to remain in the political and intellectual setting of the beginning of the Republic.

In addition, this interpretation allows us to locate the actions of part of the members as engaged movements in the educational field. The idea that it was necessary to reveal Brazil to Brazilians through the letters permeates the different moments of the educational initiative organized by the institution. The idea of the necessity of the actions in this field is placed since the first Conferences to the formalizations of the Faculty. As well as the notion that it would be part of a social function attributed to the environment they shared. As scholars and connoisseurs of academic knowledge, they would be authorized and inclined to exercise such functions.


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*Translation note: quotations of studies originally written in Portuguese were translated by the author.

1Expression that symbolized the close relationship between the emperor and the institution (Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, v. 1, 1839).

2“Having been elected to create the Brazilian society’s amalgam under the sign of the Nation State, IHGB elaborated discourses conferring legitimacy to the country’s social and political organizations through supposed historical roots. During the Empire, the idea of continuity of the order acquired from the Crown would give unity to the peoples, who, being aggregated in a lush territory, would have built the Brazilian identity’s essence” (Guimarães, 1988, p. 212).

3“In this movement of IHGB’s construction of National identity, distinguishing [Brazilians] from the others was necessary, either internally separating [them] from black and Indian people, because they did not carry the notion of civilization; either externally [separating them] from Latin American republics, because they threatened the monarchical form of government, representing barbarism” (Guimarães, 1988apudVidal and Faria Filho, 2003, p. 42).

4According to information from Kuhlmann Jr. (1999), B. F. Ramiz Galvão was rector of the University of Rio de Janeiro, president of the Higher Education Council and received the title of Officer of Public Instruction by the French government.

5Delgado de Carvalho’s educational conceptions, favorable to the organizing and regulating presence of the State in education, are very close to the propositions of the 1931 Reform, understanding the educational action as active processes of construction and reconstruction of knowledge, which must be adapted to social requirements, and guided to the achievement of future results (Carvalho, 1934).

6In this aspect, Gomes (2009) alludes to works such as the ones by José Murilo de Carvalho (1987), who studies the forms of political participation of the popular classes in the first moments of the Republican regime. Although Carvalho (1987) identifies different forms of these people’s manifestation, his interpretation considers that there was no establishment of a representative political system, and that there was no republic in fact. The protagonism of the military and the economic elite would have created a system of exclusion of the broader population of the political sphere. Therefore, he identifies that the movements of the Republic’s implantation did not come from social mobilization, from which, according to the author, they should emerge (Carvalho, 1987).

7According to Bastos (2002, p. 9), the Conferences of Rio de Janeiro were compared and considered imitations of the conferences promoted by Antonio Cândido da Cunha Leitão, in Sergipe.

8Despite being open to the general public, Carula (2007) stresses the little - or almost nil - presence of people from popular classes - black people, workers, women - in the sessions. In the analysis of an excerpt published in Gazeta de Notícias (RJ), the author stresses: “The author has treated in a satirical manner the fact that the present public is not composed of people from the people; highlighting that if this part of society decided to attend lectures, the present public would feel deeply disturbed” (Carula, 2007, p. 7).

9The transcription of some courses can be found at: Revista do Instituto Histórico e Geográfico Brasileiro, v. 762, p. 520-36, 1913; v. 782, p. 430-442, 1914; v. 771, p. 219-344, 1914; v. 772, p. 291-418, 1915.

10The first discussions refer to the project of teaching institution as Escola de Altos Estudos, however, this name had already been used by another institution during 1913 and 1914. The temporal proximity and teaching function of them provoked associations in some publications of the city.

Received: April 16, 2018; Accepted: February 14, 2019

Thaís de Melo is a doctoral student in education at Universidade de São Paulo (USP). E-mail:

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