Field note-books

Field note-books are used by geographers to record observations in the form of notes, drawings or short texts. They constitute, therefore, the most immediate results of the so-called fieldwork and they convey the essential materials for the development of topics later elaborated in articles and books.

Field note-book of travels in Portugal, 1958-65.   Profile of Serra da Estrela, 1965.   Views of the Madeira Southern Littoral, 1947.

Beyond the recorded data, these note-books are also an interesting source for analysing the habits and journeys of their authors in fieldwork. They can be studied in a variety of aspects, in the same many ways that can be used to explore the manuscript materials of a writer.

The collection of field note-books by Orlando Ribeiro comprises 63 items, resulting from travels that took place between 1932 and 1985. While the set is organized in a way that provides a general chronological overview of the travels, many of the items feature a given country, thus offering a compilation of information recorded about the same region in different dates. In order to facilitate usage, two different lists are presented here, one listing the note-books related to Portugal, Madeira and the Azores Islands, the other enumerating the items respecting other countries.

Caderno de campo   Caderno de campo  
Plough and spade, Madeira Island, 1948.   Part of the collection, under organization.   A blacksmith and his assistant, Portuguese Guinea, 1947.

Through the subtle and authentic impressions recorded in the note-books one can revive many of the observation moments of Orlando Ribeiro, in a great variety of regions. They are spontaneous and very personal notes of utmost interest for the study of Orlando Ribeiro and his work.

Recent editions of some of the Orlando Ribeiro’s works include examples of field note-book pages. In this site, they are also exemplified in the page about his travels. For preservation reasons, the field note-books are now held by the Arquivo de Cultura Portuguesa Contemporânea (Portuguese Culture Contemporary Archive) of the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal. The transcriptions made by Maria de Lourdes Ribeiro and the digitisation of the field note-books will help the consultation of this important information source about Portugal and the many other countries visited by Orlando Ribeiro throughout 50 years.

(Photographs © Duarte Belo)