Imagem card

Barreto Campello

Birth Date:

Death Date:


Teacher, Journalist, Criminologist



Barreto Campello

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 10/06/2022

By: Virgina Barbosa - Librarian at Fundação Joaquim Nabuco - Specialist in Librarianship and History

The criminologist, professor and journalist Francisco Barreto Rodrigues Campello was born on January 3, 1888, in the plantation house of the Torre mill, in Recife, to João Carneiro Rodrigues Campello and D. Laura Barreto Rodrigues Campello.

He attended and completed his primary, secondary and higher studies at the Professor João Crisóstomo de Mello Cabral School, Colégio Pestallozzi and Ginásio Pernambucano, and at the Recife School of Law, respectively.


On January 7, 1911, while still a law student, he married Lília Pitanga Alencastro de Araújo and, with her, he had fifteen children.


In the state administration of General Dantas Barreto (1911-1915), Campello was the first public prosecutor in Recife. The governor appointed him, along with Judge Silva Rêgo, to investigate the facts regarding the murder of journalist Trajano Chacon, which took place on Rua da Imperatriz, in front of the Helvetica Theater, in the Boa Vista neighborhood. He concluded that the journalist had been killed on the governor’s orders and denounced the police commander and other police officers as executioners. For this reason, he was accused of having defamed the Government and was dismissed, suffered several threats, aggression and murder attempts, culminating in his departure from Recife to Itabaiana, in the state of Paraíba. He only returned to Recife when Dantas Barreto left the government.


Governor Manuel Borba (1915-1919) reinstated him in the public prosecutor’s office. It was during this period that Barreto Campello took part in the process known as the Hecatombe de Garanhuns – one of the biggest crimes motivated by political issues that is known in the country –, and also in the case of the poisoning of 200 children at Colégio da Jaqueira.


In 1927, he was approved and appointed as a professor of Common Criminal Law and Military Criminal Law at the Recife Faculty of Law and taught these subjects from 1928 to 1933, when he was elected Deputy to the Constituent Assembly.


He was Secretary of State for Finance Affairs (1932) and served as deputy to the 1933 Constituent Assembly, from November 15, 1933, to April 27, 1935. He presented projects (among them, the payment of the Succession Tax on land, occupation of empty spaces in the territory with the penal colonization of the jungle, made with the implementation of open, agricultural and industrial penitentiaries) and amendments, such as the reintegration of the former District of São Francisco into the territory of Pernambuco.


He founded, together with Father Leonel Franca, the current Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. He was a professor of the Law course at the University of the Federal District, at the Social and Catholic Institutes of Higher Studies, both in Rio de Janeiro, and a full professor at the Recife Faculty of Law. In this Faculty, he founded, in 1941, supported by students groups, the Museum of Criminology. The collection consisted of


[...] masks and busts of the main criminals from the prisons they visited. These masks were taken from living people by an ingenious process discovered by Fine Arts student Hersílio de Medeiros Correia. In addition to this collection, the Museum had a modern and complete Identification Cabinet [...] as well as enlarged prints, hundreds of reproductions of tattoos, complete testing material for the survey of psychological profiles, portraits of famous criminals and various weapons.


He organized and directed the Academic Forum, which was designed for stimulating oratory by simulating juries with the judgment of historical personalities. It also organized: Companhia Agrícola e Pastoril do São Francisco SA, with the objective of taking advantage of the waters of Cachoeira de Itaparica for a hydroelectric plant and the damming of the waters for the installation of pipeline systems; and the Documentary of Criminality, where one can find a dictionary of the slang of Northeastern criminals and a kind of language code used by international criminals.


In 1946, he returned to politics by participating in the Pernambuco Coalition, formed by the Christian Democrat, Liberator and National Democratic Union parties.


He worked as a lawyer in Recife, in the interior of Pernambuco, in the states of Ceará, Alagoas, Rio de Janeiro and in numerous religious congregations, from which he did not charge fees. Although a professor of Criminal Law, he rarely practiced criminal law. The exception was to defend a friend or some very poor person. In this area, after insistent requests, he accepted the position of Assistant to the Prosecution against Father Osana Siqueira, for having murdered Bishop Dom Expedito Lopes, in Garanhuns. The defendant’s conviction was the result.


Barreto Campello exceled with some theses in the field of Criminal and International Law. In the first, he created the Theory of Social Minority to justify the non-imputability of the Indians; in the second, the Theory of Quasi-Nationality which, until today, is incorporated into the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil (currently Art. 12, § 1, 1988).


He reacted against the Federative Regime, large-scale Japanese immigration and the official use of a foreign language in immigration areas, especially the mandatory use of the German language in public schools in Santa Catarina.


He practiced journalism as a writer for the newspaper A República and was a contributor to the Diários Associados (Recife and Rio de Janeiro) and the Jornal do Commercio (Recife).


He took office, on April 28, 1939, at the Pernambuco Academy of Letters, Chair No. 4, in the vacancy of Carlos Porto Carreiro.


He received commendations in Brazil, Portugal and Spain.


He died on November 2, 1971, in Recife.



Recife, February 24, 2012.


sources consulted

BARRETO Campello, trajetória de uma vida. Recife: Assessoria Editorial do Nordeste, 1988.

BARRETO Campello [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 04 jan. 2018.

how to quote this text

BARBOSA, Virgínia. Barreto Campello. In: PESQUISA Escolar. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco. 2012. Available from: Access on: Month. day, year. (Ex.: Feb. 7, 2021.)