The Braga Papers form a rich resource on the history of European colonisation of East Asia from the 16th century to the mid-20th century. The papers include diaries, correspondence, draft and research material relating to writings by Braga and others, transcriptions of historical documents, bibliographies of research resources, personal documents, family papers, financial papers, legal papers, business records, committee papers, notebooks, notes, catalogue cards, printed material, photographs, realia and ephemera. The bulk of this material documents J.M. Braga's life in Macau, 1922-1946, and Hong Kong, 1946-1966, and his historical research and writings.
Although Braga's primary focus was the history of the Portuguese in Macau and the region, the collection also documents such topics as the Second World War, religion, economics, politics, literature, medicine, engineering, geography and language. Highlights include material relating to the "Jesuítas na Ásia" codices from the Biblioteca da Ajuda, Lisbon, particularly Braga's translation of "Ásia Extrema" by António de Gouveia; Braga's exhaustive "biobibliographical" research notes numbering thousands of entries; and his "Luso-Oriental Manual", a study of Portuguese officials and their contemporaries in China from the 1500s to the early 1900s (103 boxes, 16 card boxes, 48 fol. boxes, 3 map folios).
José Maria Braga was a scholar and businessman with a keen interest in the history of European encounters with East Asia from the 16th to the mid-20th centuries. Born in Hong Kong, 22 May 1897, he lived in Macau from 1922 to 1946, where his career included teaching English at St Joseph's Seminary, 1922-1934, and being general manager of the Macau Waterworks Company, 1934-1946. After the Second World War, Braga returned to Hong Kong with his wife Augusta and their seven children, where he ran Braga & Co., a small import-export business, before moving to New York in 1966 and then Australia in 1968.
From the 1920s Braga had set about collecting and recording the history of Macau and the region, dating from the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century until the mid-20th century. As well as producing scholarly articles, addresses, books and other writings, Braga transcribed historical documents and compiled extensive bibliographies. Over his lifetime he amassed a considerable collection of manuscripts, books, pictures, maps, journals, newspapers and other works, which he sold to the National Library of Australia in 1966. He worked in the Library on a fellowship from 1968 to 1972. He then moved to San Francisco, where he died on 27 April 1988.
Manuscript reference no.: MS 4300.
Associated materials: Approximately 200 individual manuscripts collected by J.M. Braga are held at MS 4301 to MS 4498.
Associated materials: Papers of J.P. Braga, 1884-circa 1929 MS 4380, MS Acc08.113.
English, Portuguese and Chinese.