How it was created

Originating in the premises of the Polytechnic School, with informal meetings of a group of teachers who worked there, the Brazilian Society of Sciences was founded on the 3rd of May of 1916, in the city of Rio de Janeiro, at that time the capital of the Republic. The group then received the addition of professors from other colleges and researchers from scientific institutions, such as the National Museum, the National Observatory, the Geological and Mineralogical Survey and the Experimental Medicine Institute of Manguinhos, the current Oswaldo Cruz Institute.

The founders

The following were present at the meeting which founded the Brazilian Society of Sciences: Henrique Morize , Enes de Sousa, Miranda Ribeiro , Carvalho e Melo, Júlio César Diogo, Ângelo da Costa Lima, A. Childe, Roquette Pinto, Alberto Betim Paes Leme  and Everardo Backheuser. Bruno Lobo, Lima Mindelo, Lohman and Daniel Henniger were represented at the meeting by their partners. Henrique Morize, a French astronomer naturalized Brazilian, was the first president of the House, having constituted a board with a three year term, composed of two vice-presidents, three secretaries and a treasurer. Initially the group was limited to one hundred members, a number which was rapidly attained.

Objectives and Resources

The main objectives of the Brazilian Society of Sciences were, to stimulate the continuity of the scientific works of its members, the development of Brazilian research and the dissemination of the concept of science as an essential factor for the technological development of the country. Although there was an expectation of obtaining financial support from the government, the Society was structured as an independent and private legal organization, responsible for choosing their own leaders and sovereign for the definition of its statutes and regulations.

Scientific Production

One of the priorities of the first administration was the publication of a scientific magazine. The Brazilian Society of Science Magazine published three annual volumes between 1917 and 1919, and was then resumed as the Magazine of Sciences in 1920-1921 under the responsibility of Artur Moses. With irregular publications in the years of 1922, 1926 and 1928, in which in 1926 it was issued under the name of Brazilian Academy of Sciences Magazine, the magazine published in this year’s edition, an article by Albert Einstein  on the Theory of Light. It was only in 1929 that the regular publication of the Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences was assured.

New Name

At the session held on December 16th, 1921, the Society changed its name to Brazilian Academy of Sciences, in accordance to the international standards at the time.

Physical space and new resources

With the closing of the Centennial of Independence Exposition, in 1922, the Academy received from the Brazilian Government and the Government of Czechoslovakia, respectively, the land and the building used as the pavilion of that country at the Exposition, where they established their headquarters. A few years later, in 1928, due to the redevelopment of the city, the building was demolished, with no compensation to the Academy whatsoever, and despite repeated promises, no corresponding site was obtained. Left with no headquarters of their own, the Academics began meeting at different locations, such as the Brazilian Historic and Geographic Institute, the Ministry of Labor (during the New State), the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, at the building which belonged to the State of São Paulo, granted by the government of Jânio Quadros (1955-1959), and last, at the Clinical Analysis Laboratory that belonged to the Academic Artur Moses. The library collection stayed in the care of the Academic Matias de Oliveira Roxo, who stored the books in a small apartment located on Rua Marques de Abrantes, then later transferred them to the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, and after that forwarded the books to the Geology and Minerology Division of the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM), located on Av. Pasteur, 404 in Urca. As of 1929, Artur Moses – a participant of the Board of Directors of the Academy in twelve different managements, having been elected president in ten of them – became a key element in the consolidation of the Academy. Moses, the first President Emeritus, reactivated the publication of the Annals, and following a series of successful endeavors, achieved in 1959, by obtaining governmental resources through donations of the Union, of the National Council of Researches (CNPq) and of the National Commission of Nuclear Energy (CNEN), the resources necessary for the purchase of the entire floor of the building where today ABC is located, at rua Anfilófio de Carvalho, 29, in the Center of Rio de Janeiro. The Academy is located on this floor since November 8, 1960. The Academy’s library, later called Aristides Pacheco Leão Library, was transferred in the 80’s to the 5th floor of number 64 of rua Araújo Porto Alegre. The period between the first management of Artur Moses up until the beginning of the management of Carlos Chagas Filho – who succeeded Moses on the Presidency of the Academy in 1965, corresponds to a period of survival of the institution, with the efforts turned towards finding financial viability, the renovation and the control of the growth in the number of members, the purchase of their headquarters and the continuity of the publication of the Annals, all this within the context of the great transformations of the Brazilian society. In the 60’s, on the occasion of the Academy’s fiftieth anniversary, the President of the Republic authorized the donation of a significant amount of National Treasury Bonds, redeemable in twenty years, through the influence of Carlos Chagas Filho. These resources, corresponding to a million dollars, of which the use was not subject to any specific determination, considerably strengthened the potentials of the Academy.

Scientific and Cultural Activity

In the process of the development of Science, the Academy and the Academics were involved in other activities such as the introduction of broadcasting in the country (1923), with Roquette Pinto as the main supporter, and the creation in 1924, of the Brazilian Society of Education (SBE), headed by Professor Everardo Backheuser. The activities of the Brazilian Society of Education, among other things, demonstrated the preoccupation of the Academics in promoting a liaison with the State to promote the institutionalization of pure scientific research in the colleges of science in all of Brazil. Following the World War II, the Academy had other important action, such as the one which culminated in the creation of the National Council of Research (CNPq), in 1951. In fact, the project which was approved by the government was conceived at the Academy, whose president Álvaro Alberto da Motta e Silva , was nominated as the first President of CNPq. The highest level of decision of the national policy of science and technology in the country was the Deliberative Council of CNPq, which included, aside from the representatives of the government, one representative of the Academy and a large number of scientists, most of them Academics. Several important institutions, such as the National Commission of Nuclear Energy (CNEN), the National Institute of Space Research (INPE) and the National Institute of Research of Amazonia (INPA) originated in committees established by this body. The Academy headed and influenced in the creation of several institutions such as: the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the Brazilian Society of Chemistry (SBQ), the University of São Paulo (USP), the Brazilian Center of Physics Research (CBPF) and the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC).

Political Recognition

As of 1967, the history of the Academy is marked by the management of the Academic Aristides Azevedo Pacheco Leão , honored in 1993 as its second Emeritus President. It is as of this date that the Academy receives recognition from the Federal Government during the II Basic Plan for Scientific and Technological Development, for the role the Academy plays as a privileged member of the S&T System of Brazil, capable of issuing, in an impartial and rigorous way, views and opinions about the state of science and technology in the country. This recognition enabled the Academy to receive governmental resources for activities of their own initiative, mainly for scientific expeditions, for the coordination of research programs, the publication of books and the implementation of scientific cooperation agreements with similar foreign institutions. Among these partnerships, the most significant were those with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the one with John E, Fogarty International Center for Advanced Study in Health Sciences. In the decade of the 80’s, under the presidency of Maurício Matos Peixoto , the government’s support for these activities was considerably reduced, nevertheless, the international partnerships were maintained and yet another one was made, with the Académie des Sciences do Institut de France. The return of governmental financial support in the decade of the 90’s, enabled the institution, headed by the presidents Oscar Sala , José Israel Vargas  (acting president) and Eduardo Krieger , to institute several different programs, such as the investment in the dissemination of scientific knowledge, the production of TV programs dedicated to environmental issues, and the expansion of scientific cooperation with other international institutions.

ABC in the XXI century

The last years have been marked by a continuous effort of redefining the mission of the Academy and the diversification of its functions within the national and international contemporary scenario, becoming a part, in an explicit way, of the official policy of Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I). Over the years, the Academy increasingly absorbs the function of articulation within the Brazilian scientific community, with a strong national performance, especially through its work groups whose objective is the development of reference documents for the elaboration of public policies in themes such as Amazonia, Higher Education, Early childhood and Elementary education, Biofuel and others. ABC also had the opportunity of increasing its international performance, by participating in forums for the debate of issues like education, dissemination of scientific knowledge, energy, environment, poverty, population, gender and violence.