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Brazilian Cordel Literature Collection

Identifier: MSS-1021-BC

Scope and Content

This artificially created collection consists of literatura de cordel, primarily in chapbook form, acquired through the Library of Congress' Rio de Janeiro Cooperative Acquisitions program and other specialized vendors. Most are dated from 2014 forward. Boxes will be added as further materials are acquired.

For description of titles See Notes.


  • 1999-2019

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Background Information

Literatura de cordel, literally "string literature," refers to small popular books or chapbooks of folk poetry, predominantly from northeastern Brazil. Cordel pamphlets, called folhetos, are small booklets of eight, sixteen, thirty-two, or sixty-four pages. Often published on inexpensive, uncut paper, the folhetos have eye-catching cover illustrations, most frequently woodblock prints. During the late 19th and 20th centuries, cordel poetry was created and performed by semi-literate poets for a predominantly non-literate public in open-air fairs and markets. Pamphlets were often suspended from cords or strings, hung across marketplace stalls belonging to local poets.

The wide-ranging themes covered in cordel poetry include descriptions and critiques of current international and local events, humor and satire, adventure, romance, sensational or moralistic narratives, religion, the exploits of heroes and bandits, environmental concerns, didactic topics, and more. Where a few decades ago, the predominantly male creators of cordel were often both woodblock artists and poets, today they may be women, and may specialize in either the poetry or the cover illustrations. Further, in recent years, unschooled cordel poets and their more or less rural public have frequently been replaced by university-trained poets, world-famous woodcut artists, and urban middle class audiences.


7 Princeton boxes (24.5 in.)


21st century Brazilian folk poetry known as "literatura de cordel".

Arrangement of the Collection

Arranged alphabetically by author. Subequent additions will be arranged by author within each year of acquisition.

Related Material

Over 4,500 cordels published before the establishment of this collection are individually cataloged as monographs in the Center for Southwest Research, and are discoverable through the UNM Libraries' public access catalog.

Processing Information

Material was added to the collection in September, 2019.
Finding Aid of the Brazilian Cordel Literature Collection, 1999-2019
Wendy Pedersen
© 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131