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Waldemar Valente

Date Born.:

Writer, Researcher, Pharmacist, Doctor, Anthropologist


Waldemar Valente

Article available in: PT-BR ESP

Last update: 25/09/2013

By: Maria do Carmo Gomes de Andrade - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Waldemar de Figueiredo Valente, doctor, pharmacist, anthropologist, sociologist, ethnologist, teacher, researcher, writer and humourist, was born on 9 February 1908, on the Conceição St in the neighbourhood of Boa Vista, in central Recife, to poet and journalist Samuel da Silva Valente and Orminda de Figueiredo Valente.

His childhood was like many of Recife children’s from early 20th Century: spinning tops, flying kites, playing on the quiet streets of Recife of that time. As a teenager, he had many lovers, and as a student, he lived the bohemian life and politics of the time.

He began his career as a doctor and was proud to have been the first Pernambuco doctor who applied penicillin (a substance produced by the fungus Penicillium notatum which has antibiotic properties). He worked in the Plague Service, a subject he had a post-graduate degree in, traveling around the semi-arid region, learning more closely the dry land and the problems of the backcountry inhabitants.

Back to Recife, he was Chair Professor at the Institute of Education and the Gymnasium Pernambucano, and Professor at the Federal University of Pernambuco, the Catholic University of Pernambuco and the Hygiene Institute of Pernambuco. In fact, he taught at virtually every school in Recife.

He was enthused by the vocation of teaching and created a school, the Pernambuco Athenaeum. It was the first school to hold equipped evening classes in Recife. The College worked to its utmost capacity, offering in addition to the usual five-year course the courses of Article 100, primary and admission.

All the money raised was used in the purchase of equipment and payment of teachers and administrative staff. Soon the College became almost a model school. It had great classrooms, with top quality school supplies, a Natural History Museum and a Physics and Chemistry Office.

The faculty was perhaps the best among Pernambuco private secondary schools. Waldemar de Oliveira, Amaro Quintas, Nilo Pereira, Tércio Rosado Maia, Nilton Cabral de Melo, Poggi de Figueiredo, Jorge Galvão, Eduardo Monteiro de Matos, Moacir Albuquerque and José Alfredo de Menezes, among others, were part of its faculty. The College’s success upset some owners of private schools in Recife, resulting in campaigns that forced Waldemar Valente to sell it.

Waldemar was also director of the Gymnasium Pernambucano, the Institute of Education, the João Barbalho Annex, the Department of Anthropology at the Joaquim Nabuco Institute for Social Research – IJNPS, the Department of Health Education and the Department of Bio-Statistics-DSP, Pernambuco. He belonged to the group of distinguished Africanists who had stood out in the area since the first Afro-Brazilian Congress of 1934, whose initiative and organisation fell to Gilberto Freyre.

He was president of the Pernambuco Folklore Commission, the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation’s scientific consultant to research issues, and a member of the Pernambuco Academy of Letters.

Among the works he published are: O povoamento primitivo da América (America’s Primitive Settlement) (1939), thesis for the Chair of the Gymnasium Pernambucano; Introdução ao estudo da Antropologia Cultural (Introduction to the Study of Cultural Anthropology) (1953); Sincretismo religioso afro-brasileiro (African-Brazilian Religious Syncretism) (1955); Maria Graham: uma inglesa em Pernambuco nos começos do século XIX (Mary Graham: an English woman in Pernambuco in the early 19th Century) (1957); Misticismo e religião (Mysticism and Religion) (1963); O padre Carapuceiro: crítica de costumes na primeira metade do século XIX (Padre Carapuceiro: criticism of customs in the first half of the 19th Century) (1969); Serrinha: aspectos antropossociais de uma comunidade nordestina (Serrinha: anthropologic and social aspects of a Northeast community) (1973); Antecipação de Pernambuco no movimento da independência: o testemunho de uma inglesa (Anticipation of Pernambuco in the Independence Movement: the testimony of an English woman) (1974); O Japonês no Nordeste agrário (The Japanese in the Agrarian Northeast) (1978), translated into Japanese; Folclore brasileiro: Pernambuco (Brazilian Folklore: Pernambuco) (1979); Nordeste em três dimensões folclóricas (Northeast in Three Folkloric Dimensions) (1986); Antologia pernambucana de Folclore (Pernambuco Anthology of Folklore), in collaboration with the folklorist Mário Souto Maior (1990).

Waldemar Valente died in Recife, on 27 November 1992.

Recife, 30 June 2004.
(Updated on 14 September 2009)
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012.


sources consulted

SOUTO MAIOR, Mário; VALENTE, Waldemar (Org.). Antologia pernambucana de Folclore. Recife: Fundação Joaquim Nabuco. Ed. Massangana, 1988. (Monografias, FUNDAJ, n. 31)

TÁVORA, José Geraldo. Presença médica na Academia Pernambucana de Letras (1921-1995). Recife: UFPE.Ed. Universitária, 1996.

VALENTE, Waldemar. Dama de ouro. Recife: FUNDARPE: CEPE, 1990. (Biblioteca Comunitária de Pernambuco. Memória, 2)


how to quote this text

Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Waldemar Valente.  Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009