Image of the Day – Brazilian Students, ca.1940s

As students are in the middle of finals week and professors in the middle of grading, it seems an appropriate time to revive the image of the day series.

Below is an image of students in a classroom during the Estado Novo government (1937-1945) of Getúlio Vargas, who governed Brazil from 1930-1945 and 1950-1954. During Vargas’s regime, Brazil witnessed a rapid transformation in society and politics, as Vargas was the first to make a truly centralized national government after the federalist First Republic (1889-1930) and the Brazilian Empire (1822-1889). During Vargas’s first administration/dictatorship, Brazilian society saw massive transformations in the structure of the state, politics, economics, labor, and other areas. Education witnessed transformations as well, as the government sought to reform education, opening it up to more Brazilians and using it to expand a sense of national identity among Brazilians throughout the country. The “successes” were mixed at best, as Brazil’s primary educational system ran up against real social and economic barriers and reinforced racial hierarchies that favored values and identities associated with “white” Brazilians over those of a darker complexion. Nonetheless, the Vargas era initiated a process of broad educational reforms that would continue (with various political ideologies motivating them) throughout the 20th century.

Students in a Brazilian classroom during the Vargas Era of the mid-20th century. Vargas's Estado Novo attempted to transform Brazilian society and politics at all levels, including educational reforms that met with mixed results.


About Colin M. Snider

I have a Ph.D. in history, specializing in Latin American History and Comparative Indigenous History. My dissertation focused on Brazil. Beyond Latin America generally, I'm particularly interested in class identities, military politics, human rights, labor, education, music, and nation. I can be found on Twitter at @ColinMSnider.
This entry was posted in Brazil, Educational Reforms, Getúlio Vargas and the Brazilian Estado Novo (1930-1945), Image of the Day. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Image of the Day – Brazilian Students, ca.1940s

  1. Randy Paul says:

    Don’t know if you’ve ever seen it, but there’s a great book of Genevieve Naylor’s photos of Brazil in the 1940’s.

    My father-in-law loved Vargas, for much the same reasons you cite.

  2. I haven’t seen it, but I’ll have to try to track it down. And I recommend Robert Levine’s “Father of the Poor?” [Question-mark intentional] for a consideration of the public image of Vargas’s accomplishments vs. the actual accomplishments of Vargas.

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