The Braga Collection was purchased from José Maria Braga (“Jack” Braga) by the National Library of Australia, Canberra. He immigrated in 1966 and held a fellowship at the library from 1968 to 1971. Before his departure, he donated further books, manuscripts, pictorial works and personal papers.
Jack Braga, aged twenty
Jack Braga was José Pedro Braga’s eldest son and lived in Macau from 1922. He taught for 13 years at St Joseph’s Seminary and later at the Liceu de Macau. He played a major part in establishing in 1925 the first Macau daily newspaper, Diario de Macau. He was the Reuters representative in Macau (1932–45) and the English language editor of the Macao Review (1929–30), as well as being a contributor to other papers such as A Patria, A Voz de Macao and Macao Tribune. From 1936 to 1946 he was the general manager of the Macao Water Company. In 1946 he returned to Hong Kong where he established an import–export business, Braga & Co., mainly dealing with the United States and Thailand.
Soon after moving to Macau in 1922, Braga set about collecting and recording the history of the colony since the Portuguese arrival in the sixteenth century. He built up a large library and created a series of files and chronological lists of oﬃcials, missionaries and events. He wrote numerous short historical articles, in both English and Portuguese, mainly for local newspapers and in 1937 began to collaborate with the English soldier and historian C.R. Boxer. From 1941 to 1945 he collected intensively the printed record of wartime Macau and Hong Kong. After the war, he moved away from journalism and wrote several scholarly papers, notably The Beginnings of Printing in Macao (1963). He also compiled extensive bibliographies for the Hong Kong annual report. His passion for collecting and historical scholarship increasingly overshadowed his business activities. In 1952 he visited Portugal and secured transcripts of many manuscripts, notably the ‘Jesuitas na Asia’ manuscripts in the Ajuda Library.
The Braga Collection at the National Library of Australia contains 7,400 books and pamphlets, nearly all of them written in English or Portuguese. The collection consists predominantly of historical works and in particular histories of Portugal, the Portuguese colonies, China and Japan. More specifically, there are books on European history, English literature, Portuguese literature, Luis de Camões, Portuguese maritime exploration, European travellers in India and the Far East, Roman Catholic missions in China and Japan, Chinese art, international relations, shipping, Macau, Hong Kong, Timor, Goa, Brazil, South-East Asia, biography, library catalogues, dictionaries and encyclopaedias.
While the bulk of the collection dates from the second half of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century, there are about 50 pre-1800 titles, with the earliest dating from 1489.
The National Library of Australia