José Leite de Vasconcellos

José Leite de Vasconcelos was born in Ucanha (in that time village of Ucanha, county of Mondim), in the present time county of Tarouca, in 7th July of 1858. He was known, nationally and internationally by his work in the fields of Ethnology and Philosophy. Although he was descendent of the Noble House of Resende, financial problems kept him from going on with his studies after elementary school. However he goes frequently to his uncle library, acquiring knowledge that he would use in his work of ethnologist. He gets a job as a scribe in Oporto and finishes high school. Afterwards he graduates in medicine, in the Medical School of Oporto with the thesis “The Evolution of Language” (1886). He devotes himself to the study of ethnography and he creates the “Revista Lusitana” (Lusitan Magazine) in 1887, the magazine “The Portuguese Archaeologist” in 1895 and the National Museum of Ethnography and Ethnology, in an outhouse of the Geronimo Monastery in Lisbon (1893), personally cataloguing 20 thousand objects that constitute the museum collection.

At 40 years old, living in Paris, he prepares his doctorate in Romanic Philology which title was “Esquisse d’une Dialectologie Portugaise”, approved “avec la mention très honorable”. In 1887 he becomes curator of the National Library. His main work – Lusitanian Ethnography – is the story of the Portuguese people. He only began writing it when he was 70 years old having until then compiled all the elements that helped him achieving it. He has more than 300 titles, some of them unprecedented. He passed away in Lisbon in 17th January 1941.

Main published works:
Romances Populares Portugueses (1881), Tradições Populares de Portugal (1882), O Dialecto Mirandês (1883), Opúsculo Arqueológico (1885), Romanceiro Português (1886), Religiões da Lusitânia (vol. I, 1897; vol. II, 1905; vol. III, 1913); Memórias de Mondim da Beira.

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