In this carefully researched book, Marcelo Mac Cord traces the history of Recife's Sociedade das Artes Mecânicas (Society of Mechanical Arts), later renamed the Sociedade dos Artistas Mecânicos e Liberais (Society of Mechanical and Liberal Artists), from its founding in 1841 to 1880, when the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios (Arts and Trades School) was formally opened. By then, the artisan society had received the privilege of adding “imperial” to its name, and Pernambuco's provincial government had placed it in charge of managing the school.

The society's founders were carpenters, stonemasons, coopers, and cabinetmakers who had close connections to the lay brotherhood of São José do Ribamar, which, until the liberal reforms of the 1824 constitution, had enjoyed the privileges of a guild (corporação de ofício). Led by master carpenter José Vicente Ferreira Barros, these members of Recife's building trades...

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