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História da Educação

versión impresa ISSN 1414-3518versión On-line ISSN 2236-3459

Hist. Educ. vol.25  Santa Maria  2021  Epub 30-Abr-2021 





Cesar Augusto Castro*

Samuel Luis Velazquez Castellanos**

*Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA), São Luis/MA, Brasil.

**Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA), São Luis/MA, Brasil.


This is the trajectory of the Santa Teresa Asylum created in the Province of Maranhão in 1855, exposing its institutional purposes of sheltering, protecting, supporting and educating orphans. This paper was described the school practices inside this educational space. The text talks about the nature feminine formation directing to the domestic jobs of the aristocracy of Maranhão or take care of the home, the husband and children. It was prepared from the exploration of handwritten sources, articles published in newspapers, reports from the directors of the establishment in question and the presidents of the Province and the bibliography produced in the support and instruction of poor and helpless girls from Maranhão.

Keywords: Female Education; Maranhão Empire; Santa Teresa Asylum


Es la trayectoria del Asilo de Santa Teresa creado en la Provincia de Maranhão en 1855, exponiendo sus propósitos institucionales de albergar, proteger, apoyar y educar a los huérfanos. Se describen las prácticas escolares realizadas en este espacio educativo. Se aborda la naturaleza de la educación femenina, dirigida a las tareas domésticas de la aristocracia de Maranhão o para cumplir el papel de esposas, cuidar el hogar, el esposo y la descendencia. El texto está elaborado en base a la extracción de fuentes escritas a mano, artículos publicados en periódicos, informes de los directores del Establecimiento en cuestión y los presidentes de la provincia y la bibliografía producida en la protección e instrucción de niñas pobres y desfavorecidas en Maranhão.

Palabras clave: Educación femenina; Maranhão Imperio; Asilo de Santa Teresa


Il s'agit d'analyser l'instruction des filles pauvres et défavorisées fréquentées par l'asile Santa Teresa, une institution créée dans la province de Maranhão en 1855 dans le but d'abriter, de protéger et d'éduquer ces enfants. Les pratiques scolaires visant à enseigner les premières lettres, les cadeaux domestiques ou à remplir le rôle d'épouses, les soins à domicile, le mari et la progéniture sont décrites. Le texte est préparé à partir de l'exploration de sources manuscrites, d'articles publiés dans les journaux, de rapports des directeurs de l'établissement et des présidents de la province. l est conclu que l'asile a joué un rôle important dans la formation scolaire et professionnelle des filles à Maranhão au XIXe siècle.

Mots-clés: Éducation féminine; Empire Maranhão; Asile de Santa Teresa


Trata-se de analisar a instrução de meninas pobres e desvalidas atendidas pelo Asilo de Santa Teresa, instituição criada na Província do Maranhão em 1855, com a finalidade de abrigar, proteger e educar essas crianças. Descrevem-se as práticas escolares voltadas para o ensino das primeiras letras, das prendas domésticas ou para cumprirem o papel de esposas, cuidar do lar, do marido e da prole. Elabora-se o texto a partir da garimpagem das fontes manuscritas, dos artigos publicados em jornais, dos relatórios dos diretores do Estabelecimento e dos presidentes da Província. Conclui-se que o Asilo exerceu importante papel na formação escolar e de mão de obra de crianças do sexo feminino no Maranhão no século XIX.

Palavras-Chave: Educação feminina; Maranhão Império; Asilo de Santa Teresa.


Attention to poor and disadvantaged children in the Province of Maranhão after the Balaiada, was a movement that broke out in the countryside (Caxias, Matões, Pastos Bons, Itapecuru, and Alhures), expanded to Piauí and Ceará, exacerbating economic misery, political and social that plagued the unassisted population by public authorities as stated Araújo (1995). The migration of families, men, women and children to São Luís fleeing the “civil war” finds no means of “subsistence due to the decrease in wealth and paralysis industry” as asserts Viveiros (1954). As a result, diseases, homelessness and lack of food, transform the capital into an unhealthy city, of “vagrants and beggars”, who circulate through the streets and hills in search of small tasks or food (SERRA, 2008). The Casas de Caridade (Charity Home) - Santa Casa da Misericórdia and the Casa dos Expostos, for example - have increased their number of tickets during and after this movement, showing the crisis in the province to serve a “sick and hungry mass” in the understanding Viveiros (1954, p. 57).

Consequently, the number of children who begged and wandered or were abandoned by their parents or guardians becomes one of the concerns of João Antônio de Miranda, provincial president. For this reason, he proposes to the Provincial Assembly the creation of the Casa dos Educandos Artífices, with the purpose of:

1º Deviating from the career of addictions, dozens of young people who have nothing to live for, nor those who promote their education grow to helplessness and become useless and heavy to society; 2nd to animate the arts and offer the capital and the province workers and craftsmen that it needs so much” (REGULATION of Casa dos Educandos Artífices, 1841, 2009).

The beginning of the Republic, Casa dos Educandos would close its activity. In this sense, says Viveiros (1953, p. 16-17):

Despite this great work of philanthropy, after 48 years of fruitful and brilliant life, it was suppressed on December 13, 1889, by the Provisional Government Government, in the albores of the Republic” (emphasis added).

This institution, as well as the sheltered de Nossa Senhora de Anunciação e Remédios, constituted, in the 1840s, the most relevant institutions for the care of underprivileged men and women. The creation of sheltered dates back to the 18th century, by Frei Gabriel Malagrida2 for “the good education of the maidens” (MARQUES, 1971, p. 823) next to the Church of Nossa Senhora dos Pretos and under the Instituto das Ursulinas, under the donation of alms of the illustrious Maranhão state (MARQUES, 197, p. 823). An incursion into the history of this institution is important for us to understand the trajectory of the Santa Teresa Asylum.

Based on the Jesuit educational plan, the sheltered outlined the fundamentals of female education linked also to religious education. Abranches (2002), in his search about Bello Sexo Education in São Luís in the second half of the 19th century, states that Jesuit education, in addition to favoring the free poor, was also used as a basis for the education of elites. This teaching, according to the author, was based on a rigid and humanistic discipline:

The Jesuits' educational plan also included the education of the children of the colonial elite, preparing them for the further stage of improvement and completion of their studies in Europe. White women were given only a domestic education that was restricted to learning home gifts and moral education (ABRANCHES, 2002, p. 43)

The crises (accommodation, of a financial and moral nature, for example) that the sheltered went through in its trajectory from 1840 onwards, it started to accept the entry of women with purposes unrelated to religion, and confessions and pensioners can be found living together in it space, as well as those from the baby hatch of Santa Casa da Misericórdia (RODRIGUES, 2012, p. 47).

The non-disadvantaged girls who attended the sheltered of Nossa Senhora de Anunciação and Remédios, constituted a significant portion of pensioners maintained by private individuals - proof that the traditional traditionalism regarding religious education and the preference for the tenets of Catholics still prevailed, mainly, in what it concerns the training of future ladies of society (CASTRO; COSTA, 2008).The documentation referring to requests for admission of women at the recollection reveals that there were requests for both situations. When sending his request for admission to his protected, Fellipe Benicio d’Oliveira Condurú3 shows all the conditions and benefits that he will be entitled to, including the stay and other services:

[...] eighteen thousand reis, the relative and protector [...] named D. Raquel Marcelina Alves Campos, white, maiden, aged 27, legitimate daughter of the deceased Mariano Fellipe de Oliveira Campos and D. Joana Alves Campos, running the clothing, washing clothes, diet and medical treatment when necessary, and the supplicant being responsible for any lack of payment of the monthly4.

It is clear that, in addition to being a member of a wealthy family, Raquel Marcelina had already passed the age of primary education5, knowing how to read and write. The formation sought in the Gathering was based on the learning of domestic gifts, first letters and Christian doctrine. On the other side, what his uncle wanted was not only regular education, but also to ensure the girl's virtuosity so that she, embedded in a chaste and moral conduct provided by the institution, could achieve a good marriage within the elite of Maranhão (CASTRO; COSTA, 2008).

This contradiction found in shelter exemplifies the duality experienced within the institution. For poor students, the application was made based on the “admission cloister6”, because the shelter pledged to support these girls if their state of misery and homelessness was proven due to lack of financial conditions, orphanage or widowhood on the part of of the mother or the father. It was in these conditions that D. Ursulina Lima, who, being in extreme poverty, submitted his request to the analysis of the Capitular Vicar responsible for the Recollection of Nossa Senhora da Anunciação e Remédios, declaring to be:

[...] helpless and without resources of any quality, except her work as a woman, with which she had barely been able to dress and put on shoes, absolutely needing an Asylum, where she could welcome the rest of her life, come to Your Most Reverend request to send her to be admitted to the sheltered of this city, declaring that she is subject entirely to the conditions of this establishment with which they have conformed7.

As an answer, the applicant obtained, in addition to acceptance, a term of adequacy to the rules and discipline of gathering. This term dealt with the conditions under which students were admitted and what obligations they should fulfill for the smooth running of the learning process:

An entrance ordinance is passed to the class of free pickups with the clause of not being able to leave the sheltered except because of a serious illness preceding the ordinary's leave, to work to dress and provide for the necessary, less house and food than It will be provided to you free of charge by the establishment subject to our rules and disciplines of the veiled sisters and your companions staying with your procedure. However, if it becomes a cause of disorder and bad example or any formality, you will be obliged to leave the establishment8.

In addition to these charities instituitions - sheltered and Casa dos Educandos - during the 19th century, others were created with the purpose of supporting, feeding, dressing and educating boys and girls, preferably from poor families and the Casa dos Exostos: Escola Agrícola do Cutim, Companhia de Aprendiz Marinheiros and the Santa Teresa Asylum.

On April 7, 1854, during the government of João Lustosa da Silva Paranaguá, was created an agricultural establishment, located near Riacho Cutim, with the aim to support boys and use them trades related to the cultivation of the land and the animal husbandry. Them, to teach these jobs, be hired as masters in the United States and Europe, who, through the aratory method, transmit techniques for planting and harvesting rice, sugar cane, corn and other products, in addition to raising chickens, cattle, horses and the production of butter and cheese to be sold in the local market.

Thus to direct it, was hired Frenchman Luiz Clement from UEA, who commanded several agricultural enterprises. To implement it, Caetano Cândido Cantanhede was hired, who was in Europe learning agriculture and came to teach at that establishment. He was supposed to join Antônio Joaquim Lopes and José César Machado, who, in 1857, went to study in the United States. The first was dedicated to the study of cotton, rice and corn culture, while the second studied the cultivation of cane and the manufacture of sugar and brandy. In order to guide farmers in Maranhão about planting sugar cane and making sugar, the provincial government hired american engineer John Wetson. Segundo Marques (1970, p. 263) "Unfortunately the result was not corresponding to the end of creation, nor the huge amounts spent with this establishment, fabulous amounts and in no way productive". Then with purpose of solving the problems of the establishment, to manage it was contracted in France, in 1863, Alexandre Etienne Durand.

The 1863 Regulation states that students could be of two types: those subsidized by the government and pensioners. To enter school, they must present a poverty certificate, age over 12 years and a vaccination and health sanity certificate issued by a doctor. The school regime is similar to that of the Casa dos Educandos Artifices, with the difference that from 5 to 9 am, from 10 am to 12 pm they learned the first letters and, in the afternoon, the crafts of blacksmith, carpenter, cabinetmaker, carpenter or others pertaining to the profession of farmer. This learning took place through a strong control and regulation of the director, of the first letter teachers (who should accumulate the function of clerk); workshop masters and field workers, preferably slaves. Due to lack of investment and irrelevant agricultural production, the Escola Agrícola do Cutim was closed in 1863.

The Escola de Aprendizes Marinheiros was created by Decree nº 2,725 of 12 January 1861, when Francisco Xavier Pais Barreto was Minister of the Navy and under the command of the 1st Lieutenant of the Navy José Francisco Pinto, sheltered a large number of poor and disadvantaged boys who they were learning the first letters and the mechanical arts necessary for the development of navigation in the rivers of Maranhão: Itapecuru, Mearim, Corda and others. Christian teaching was also part of the boys' learning, in addition to cartography, the handling of bladed weapons and the artillery game. This institution ended its activities in 1914.

Table 1  Institutions of care for poor children, in São Luís, in the 19th century. 

Casa dos Educandos Artífices Institution where boys received primary, musical and religious instruction, in addition to learning crafts, such as: shoemaker, tailor, joiner, Carpenter and others.
Companhia de Aprendizes Marinheiros Boarding school-type institution, created on the initiative of the imperial government. He received boys from orphan schools, the Casa dos Educandos and boys sheltered by the police on the streets. They were trained to develop services on warships.
Recolhimento de Nossa Senhora de Anunciação e Remédios Created by priest Malagrida, it was dedicated to serving women devoted to God (no need for vows) and orphaned by father and mother or only father, usually daughters of illegitimate marriages.
Casa ou Roda de Expostos da Santa Casa da Misericórdia Subordinated to Santa Casa da Misericórdia. Received babies left at the baby hatch, keeping the authors of the abandonment anonymous. The breeding system was made by wet nurses hired by this establishment.
Asilo de Santa Teresa It offered ways for girls to become future family mothers, guaranteeing their place in society. They obtained instruction about home education.
Educandas de Vera Cruz9 Created in 1850 by the Bureau of the Brotherhood of Santa Cruz do Senhor do Bom Jesus dos Passos, with the objective of educating poor and disadvantaged girls using the Santa Teresa Asylum as a model. Due to the difficulties of the sisterhood, supporting girls were distributed by members' families.
Escola Agrícola do Cutim Created with the purpose of educating children in agricultural practices using the aratory method.


For the writing of this text, we used different sources - primary and secondary - found in the Public Library and in the Public Archive of the State, such as manuscripts, newspapers and legislation. We divided this text into two parts: in the first, we succinctly outlined the establishments aimed at childhood (boys and girls), to locate the spaces occupied by orphaned and poor children in this part of Brazil; given that introduction, in the second part, we will stick to the Santa Teresa Asylum, in particular the instruction of the girls, the focus of this text.


The creation of a charity house to shelter poor and underprivileged girls was proposed by Olímpio José Machado, with the claim that the purposes of housing did not meet the needs of the provincials, in as much as it did not train girls for life's responsibilities civil society, which made their training indefinite for those who did not aspire to a religious life. According Motta (2004) the conversion of shelter into a civilian house as this president required was not accepted by the Bishopric on the grounds that its founder, Frei Gabriel Malagrida, had placed it under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary.

Therefore, he decided to “found in this capital ad instar of the Casa dos Educandos Artífices for underprivileged girls” (REPORT, 1855, p.24), under the denomination of Asilo de Santa Teresa, in honor and under the protection of Empress Teresa Cristina, in a modest house, belonging to the widow of supreme court Barradas, located at Rua dos Remédios “which by its position and rooms could not be better” (REPORT, 1855, p. 24). In 1863, asylum seekers were transferred to a building on Rua Formosa, where the “Girls slept on the floor or in overlapping hammocks, in small, warm rooms, without air renewal” (LIMA, 2007, p. 86). For its maintenance, it suggests the reduction of the subsidies given to Recolhimento with the withdrawal of twelve girls kept by the provincial coffers and part of the funds of the Casa dos Expostos under responsibility of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia “which should only be responsible for the creation of the age of being transferred to the Santa Theresa azylo. The girls, who live in the house of the exposed, over 14 years old, must have any destination (REPORT..., 1855, p. 24).

In accordance with the regulation of 16th January 1855, the following were appointed to manage it: Manuel Gomes da Silva Belfort (thane of Coroatá), director; Dr. Augusto Rego, deputy director; Dr. José Ricardo Jouffret, physician; priest Antônio Tavares da Silva, chaplain; Francisco Joaquim Pinto Barreto, storekeeper; and Mrs. Dona Maria Joaquina de Araujo Bacellar, conductor

The choice of Asylum staff honors those who made it. Yours excellency the Baron of Coroatá giving public and solemn thanks for having, despite his age and suffering, taken over himself, free of charge and for the love of humanity, the not small charge of the direction of the Santa Teresa Asylum, whose progress, entrusted with such skillful hands, it must be infallible (REPORT..., 1856, p. 25).

In spite of all this functional professional team, the President of the Province was responsible for the inspection, direction and inspection, being able to appoint, dismiss employees and approve or disapprove the entry of girls. Its legal representative inside the establishment, the director, had the task of ensuring the order and fulfillment of all the tasks of the masters and employees “so that the education of the girls is elevated to the degree of perfection, which is to be desired, mainly the religious life” (Santa Teresa Asylum REGULATION, 1855, 2009, p. 321).

Religious practices should be the first and last daily activity and consisted of praying the rosary dedicated to the Emperor and his entire family, the President of the Province and the creator of the Asylum. At night, a prayer of thanks for the tasks performed, to the masters and to the entire functional professional under the protection of the image of the Lord Jesus Christ imported from Rio de Janeiro to decorate the small chapel of the institution. In addition, the director was responsible for controlling expenses and income and presenting an annual report to the president of the province on the state of progress of the collegiate schools and all businesses related to the institution.

While the director was responsible for the administration, the conductor, “a lady, widow or single and [of] healthy customs”, took care of the chores of the employees, the order of the collegiates in their learning activities, their cleanliness and rest. As a kind of “mother of charity”, Maria Joaquina Bacellar had to preserve the physical health of the students and exercise control over their sexualities so that they remained chaste for marriage or to suppress their carnal desires, especially the daughters of mothers unmarried so that they do not follow “the mother's addiction and example” (NUNES, 2007). For this reason, it was not permitting the entry of male people, even if it was the father, guardians or brothers, without prior authorization from the Director or the president of the province - preference was given to the work of free slaves, including an example of Maria Rita and Henriqueta who took care of heavy services, such as filling water from the well, washing and waxing floors and shopping in the market and fairs in the city.

Like all other institutions for the care of poor and disadvantaged children, the Santa Teresa Asylum had a way for disciplining gestures, work, school content and language that worked with the purpose of “oversee time, space and movement” (FOUCAULT, 2004, p.118), establishing relations of “docility-utility” for domestic work, for the first letters classes and, mainly, in relations with their superiors. These mechanisms of power were used by the directors and the superior responsible for the acts of surveillance and punishment of misdemeanors, supported by the regulations, created with the purpose of controlling the activities and the pace of the disciplinary apparatus.

For the disciplinary apparatus have a feature, it was necessary that the temporal occupation of the activities of the girls made distributed in an annulling way “everything that can disturb and distract, it is about constituting an integrally useful time” (FOUCAULT, 2004, p. 118), even for those underage. Regulation of the time that began in the early hours of the morning and ended at night, as shown in the table below.

Table 2  Distribution of student activities - 1855 

5:30 am Cleanlineess of the girls
6:00 am Morning prayer
7:00 am First letter classes
8:00 am First meal of the day
9:00 am Study activities
11:00 am Sewing lessons
12:30 pm Break
13:00 pm Lunch
14:30 pm Sewing lessons
17:00 pm Snack meal
18:00 pm Christian doctrine
20:00 pm Last meal
21:00 pm Pick-up for the bedrooms

Source: Regiment of the Asylum of Santa Teresa, 1865

Throughout its trajectory, the Asylum has been the object of many families' wishes, not married mothers or widows who are unable to provide a quality education for their daughters. In all the researched documentation there is a reasonable number of requests for admission of girls between the age of seven to twelve years old, sent by the orphan judges, guardians, mothers and fathers, both in the capital and in the neighboring cities. Those exposed had a preference and did not need prior authorization from the President of the Province, all they needed was a petition of the butler of Santa Casa da Misericórdia, accompanied by a birth certificate or baptism and a vaccination certificate to the Director.

Returning to your Honor the two letters from the Judge of Orphans of this city and the twelve oficial documents of you honor of 4 of the current, I fulfilled myself in observance of what you honor determined in the same oficial documents to inform you, 1st that the girls recommended in the offices of the aforementioned Judge of Orphans are in terms of being admitted to the Santa Teresa Asylum, and it is in all convenient to present the respective age certificates was necessary; 2nd that the girls to which the requirements of Marcolinna Rita da Costa, Theresa Martinho Ribeiro, Antonio Pereira dos Santos, D. Anna Raimunda Brito, Roza Amalia Barbosa, Anna Theodora dos Santos and José Miguel da Costa refer, are in circumstances of being admitted to said Asylum in accordance with the respective Regulation; 3rd that the requirements of Maria da Glória Francisca da Costa Leite and Joanna Maria Soares cannot be met because they are not instructed with the age certificate of the girls they are dealing with or any document by which they are known for their orphanhood and poverty; 4th that the requirement of Francisco Antonio Dias and his wife Ignacia da Conceição Dias cannot be met either because in addition to not bringing the respective age certificate of the girls, to which the applicants refer, it is stated in the same requirement that such girls are not orphans , because he has a father and a mother; 5th finally that Antônio da Conceição's application, although not documented, cannot be made any intention, because he introduced me to the girl he deals with, I noticed that she cannot be more than 8 to 9 years old and the applicant forces you to briefly present the respective age certificate that I have already sent from Ceará, where the same girl is from. In view of what is considered, you will deign to send what is served, God save you, May 11, 1855, Barão de Coroatá, Asylum10 Director.

Regarding the admission of black children, unlike the Casa dos Educandos Artífices, where no 1885 regulation prohibited their entry, in the Asylum of Santa Teresa this restriction does not appear, as stated in the director's letters to the President of the Province11.

However, black girls, to be admitted, should come from the “Expostos” or have a protector who intermediated or financially guaranteed their admission and maintenance, that is, only the petition authored by their mother and father was not a condition for the poor to entry and underprivileged women, like D. Maria José Jansen Lobo, who offered the Asylum coffers a hundred thousand réis for admission to Consolação, daughter of his slave Catarina or Lieutenant Colonel José Caetano Vaz Junior, who requested admission to the Santa Teresa Asylum of her protected Aristhéa (about ten years old), daughter of the black woman frees Praxedes12(CRUZ, 2008,p. 121).

Just like all the other institutions of care for poor and disadvantaged children mentioned above, there were three types of students in the Asylum: a) the numerary ones, those maintained by the provincial coffers, according to the provisions of the Regulations and authorized by the President of the Province, generally those from Casa dos Expostos or those that prove the level of poverty and orphanhood ;b) pensioners who paid (parents, guardians, benefactors) for their education, maintenance and treatment of illnesses in the amount of twelve thousand réis monthly in quarterly installments; c) the supernumeraries that were kept by the public treasury waiting for a vacancy by output of someone. Throughout the Establishment's life cycle, the number of girls in all these forms of admission has been increasing.

In this establishment, entrusted to the care of director Francisco Sotero dos Reis, 82 students receive education each year. Of these 60 are effective numbers from the province, whose education provides the Provincial Treasury with a subsidy of 15$000 reis month for each one; 13 students, who live in the shadow of the same subsidy, eliminating the excess expenses that they cause with the establishment's own income; 3 said to aid the maintenance of each of which the charitable society - Nove de Novembro - provides the pension of eight thousand kings, 6 private pensioners who pay a monthly fee of 16$000 reis for their education.

The number of contigents entries over the years, mainly supernumerary ones, can highlight several issues: the credibility of the Asylum in Maranhão society, the increase of illegitimate or abandoned daughters in the Roda dos Expostos and the girls who had their parents victimized in the Paraguay War like Thereza, a native of Vila de Turiaçu, who will lose her father Raimundo Nonato da Costa and her mother Luarderlina Rosa de Castro, who had no means of supporting her, because “at the end of the conflict, the suffering of the veterans who returned and they were not supported and the despair of widows and mothers who no longer saw their children [and husbands]. The Province of Maranhão had left some of their loved ones buried or disappeared in distant Paraguay”(ARAÚJO, 2008, p. 190). This growing influx of students creates a problem that becomes a common pattern of the principals' demands, as well as the improvement of the conditions of the building, which was bashful, unhealthy and with structural problems, which prevented the execution of several educational activities, such as classes sewing and embroidery and first letters13. One of the options presented, in 1867, by Sotero dos Reis, director of the Asylum, would be the reduction of students items that weighed in the expenses with food, clothing and shoes.

This situation worsens with the approval of Law 720 of January 24th, 1864, which raises the number of educated people of forty to seventy and the age of permanence went from 17 to 20 years old - at 17 they could get married or be adopted by family members who wished to keep them as a kind of housekeeper or handed over to relatives and guardians. The marriage could only be carried out with men who prove their profession and the means to support them in a petition to the President of the Province who could approve or reject the request.

The underprivileged, who get married with the permission of the President of the Province, will have a trousseau worth three hundred thousand reis and will receive, after being married, the dowry of five hundred thousand reis, which will be delivered to the groom by the Director after eight days" (REGULATION of the Santa Teresa Asylum, 1855, 2009, p. 323).

Resources that were often not paid or were not transferred to the “protective husband” within the period determined by the Regulation due to the absence of a financial balance in the Provincial Treasury or in the safe of the Asylum, which caused complaints from the spouses to the Director, like Luiz de Carvalho, who, when marrying Philomena da Graça, had not received the dowry after two months.

Yours Excellency, for your respectable dispatch of 3 of the current friends, and authorized the marriage of the helpless collegiate of the Asylum of Santa Teresa Philomena da Graça with Luiz Maria Xavier de Carvalho and invite to finalize the conclusion of this deal, a requirement to you honor. The dispatch of your orders in order to be delivered to the Provincial Treasury, as of now the amount of 300$00 reis for the schoolgirl's layette expenses and after the school's marriage, the 500$00 reis of dowry that must be given to the groom days after the wedding14.

We observed in the researched documentation is that some marriages were arranged by the director or the president of the Province; for that it was enough that the girl was at the age regulated by law and there was a suitor. During the life cycle of the Asylum of Santa Teresa, eighteen students were married and those who did not remain single, when they were dismissed from the institution, exercised the profession of primary teachers, as we attested in the report that Sotero dos Reis showed to the President of the Province when the students were transferred to the Recollection of Annunciação and Remédios15, in 1870.

1.Filomena Augusta Bandeira, public teacher, married Luiz Pinto Ferreira de Almeida, public teacher, on April 5th, 1862;

2. Maria José da Silva married João Francisco Cruz, an employee at Chafariz do Anil, on May 24th, 1862;

3. Joana Rosa de Sena married João Baptista Saraiva Vianna, a shoemaker, on January 23, 1864;

4. Philomena Rosa da Graça married Luiz Maria Chavier de Carvalho, a businessman, on January 14th, 1864;

5. Maria Theresa Baima married Thomás Anacleto de Amorim, an ignored profession, on February 13, 1866;

6. Maria Luisa Farias, a public teacher from Santa Helena, married Thomás Augusto Ferreira Cabral, public employee, on April 1, 1866;

7. Rita Paula Pereira married José Ribeiro de Mendonça, tailor, on July 28, 1866;

8. Maria Diothilde Ferreira de Castro married Francisco Bezerra de Menezes, typographer, on July 6, 1867;

9. Clothilde Maria do Livramento married José Joaquim Moura, cigar, on July 13, 1867;

10. Cecilia Cassiana married Antonio José da Silva, employee of the Gasometer, on August 3rd, 1867;

11. Joanna Paula de Jesus Aranha married João Clímaco da Conceição, Alfaiate;

12. Maria da Paz Figueira married Artur Simith, Militar;

13. Luisa Filomena Franco de Sá married Carlos Antonio Martins, a farmer;

14. Francisca Ferreira, a public teacher from Barreirinhas, married Felippe Pires Siabra, an ignored profession;

15. Maria Amelia Moreira Nunes married Joaquim Thomás da Costa Basto, auction agent;

16. Raimunda Maria de Assumpção married Saturnino Borges de Freitas, established in Ceará with a metal maker;

17. Paula da Silva Nava married Frederico Augusto da Silva, a businessman;

18. Maria Dionísia married José Custodio Loureiro, owned a farm and sold grass;

19. Antônia Virginia Franco de Sá, teacher at the Colégio de Santa Isabel;

20. Filomena de Jesus Franco de Sá, teacher at the Colégio de Santa Isabel;

21. Joaquina Filomena Franco de Sá, teacher at the Colégio de Santa Isabel;

22. Anna Joaquina Franco de Sá, teacher at the Colégio de Santa Isabel;

23. Filomena Rosa de Freiras, teacher of first letters in the City of Turiaçu (REPORT by Sotero dos Reis, 1870).

Through this list, we verify that eight students leaving the Asylum exercised their teaching both in the capital and in the interior of the Province, which is due, on the one hand, to the training they received at the Asylum, as well as a period in which there was an expansion of the teaching first letters to women in Maranhão, in the second half of the 19th century.


The Santa Teresa Asylum had as main support to the underprivileged and exposed students of Santa Casa da Misericórdia and, as a secondary purpose, to educate them so that they could be employed in domestic service. For this, the teaching process should be taught by educated people, of good morals and customs and whose first obligation was to oblige as schoolchildren to “sew, cut dresses, embroider, touch, comb, make flowers, ornaments, wash, iron, cooking” (Santa Teresa Asylum REGULATION, 1855, 2009, p. 322) and making all kinds of sweets and jams with the use of seasonal fruits, a ceremony sold and, with the profits, contributed to the daily expenses of the House.

Then to achieve these goals, teaching was divided into four classes: the first dealt with Christian doctrine, religious and moral duties, the principles of reading and writing, and arithmetic down to the fractions and notions of the national grammar of geography, of history and drawing. The second and third dealt with household economics divided between needle exercises, which included different styles and types of embroidery, washing and ironing fine fabrics, and making cakes for birthdays and weddings. The fourth and last one consisted of learning music, mainly piano and singing.

These domestic gifts were one of the ways in which poor women from Maranhão survived or increased their family incomes, with countless women standing out as confectioners, embroiderers, washerwomen and florists, such as Maria Rosa de Freitas and Leopoldina U. da Cunha who announced her crochet work in the local press.

The wealthier class women did not have many activities outside the home. They were trained to play the role of mother and the so-called ‘household gifts’ - guiding children, making or ordering the kitchen, sewing and embroidering. Others less fortunate, widows or an impoverished elite, made sweets to order, flower arrangements, embroidered with sieve, gave piano and solfeggio lessons, and thus were able to help support and educate the numerous offspring (FALCI, 2006, p. 249).

In addition to the press, the Maranhão exhibitions of the popular labor festivities (held annually) were a kind of showcase for the dissemination of the manual and artistic arts of women and men from the province of different social classes and, mainly, of public, private school institutions and charitable establishments, such as the Santa Teresa Asylum, the shelter, the Casa dos Educandos Artífices and the Escola Agrícola do Cutim.

This school [Santa Isabel], which presented less at the 1871 Exhibition, stands out this year, despite having presented only 3 paintings, but which are beautiful embroidered silk and needlework. The first, by D. Genelina Cecília Ribeiro D´Oliveira [...] made a painting representing a country house, delicate work of embroidery and needle. D. Adelina Ribeiro D´Oliveira, competed with two paintings: a hunter, good needlework; a nest with two birds, also needle work. This last work is mainly very beautiful and perfect [..] (PUBLISHER, 1873, p. 2).

The repercussion in the local press of the exhibition of these works (praise and criticism) served poor and disadvantaged child care establishments as an account of the public resources spent on their maintenance and as “ the greater realization solemn proof of our civilization, the greatest honor and the fullest confession that can be made of the morality of orphans in the Province” (PUBLISHER, 1861.p.3); for private institutions, it could mean the possibility of more students joining due to the evidence of the quality of female education given at Colégio de Nazaré das Parga Nina and Colégio Nossa Senhora da Gloria, das Abranches. Dressed in white and blue lace, these girls paraded among the exposed objects: embroidered thread, matrix, gold and needlepoint pieces, carpet, with music played on the piano in the background by an apprentice craftsman from Casa dos Educandos - “and everyone finally taxed commendations to the principals, teachers and students for the dedicated years of study” (PUBLISHER, 1873, p.2).

The education offered to asylums was not much different from that received by girls attending private schools, an example of N.S. da Soledade, N.S. de Nazaré, Sagrada Família, Santa Isabel, Santa Ana and N.S da Glória, who received girls from the most important families from Maranhão (São Luís and neighboring cities) and prepared them for the art of goodness to serve a society that, in the 19th century, required minimal compliance with the rules of civility. For this purpose, it was necessary to include in the curriculum of these students the classes in artistic design, French, piano and singing and music. However, for those shelter from the Santa Teresa Asylum, the learning of domestic gifts served as reinforcement to get married or survive with their work when they get out the establishment. This contrast between the aforementioned methodologies demonstrates the reality of an extremely hierarchical society, based on economic power and class inequality. Abrantes (2002, p.54) agrees with this proposition:

Young women, whose families had the resources to pay for their secondary education, could aspire to this intellectual elevation, although different from what was offered to men at the same level, with female secondary education not having the characteristic of preparing for higher education, aspiration not admitted for women at that time. For the poor girls had only primary schools and institutions like shelter and asylum homes were left.

The teaching of needle arts, in the Santa Teresa Asylum, was under the responsibility of Maria Amália Ferreira, a single lady over thirty years old, and with her resignation, it fell to Eulina Roza de Araújo Gomes; the sewing classes taught by Arsênia Augusta Carneiro Belfort and her assistant, student Maria Victoria da Costa, and the first letters classes were taught by Marcellina Rosa Correia Leitão, with the help of Anna Rosa da Silva Nava. The choice of auxiliaries was due to the level of learning demonstrated in theoretical and practical classes presented before an examining board composed of teachers from the Asylum and guests from other schools, in which the level of achievement in the classes of first letters, embroidery, sewing was evaluated and Christian doctrine.

Regarding the use of the first letters and Christian doctrine classes, in 1859, the 51 students enrolled were between 8 and 16 years old, and learned the grammar of the Portuguese language, the four mathematical operations and cursive and bastard letters. Being that the younger ones started their learning with ABC followed by the reading booklet, like the Book of the People by Antônio Marques Rodrigues and, later, the notions of grammar of the Portuguese language having as main work “Grammar lessons of applied to the Portuguese language by analyzing the classics” (1862) authored by Sotero dos Reis, with only one showing “bad” performance, the others “good” or “very good”.

The teaching Christian doctrine began with the reading of the catechism, in this case, Fleury's Catechism, translated by Antônio Marques Rodrigues or the catechism of Pará, followed by the sacred stories with special attention to the book of the four apostles, being that that year only one student “knew everything”, 7 “some” and the others “all” the doctrine.

When it comes to learning domestic activities, knowledge was divided by sewing and embroidery, making ornaments (flowers) and making fruit jams (mangoes, guava, cashew and other local fruits). In sewing and embroidery classes, they learned how to sew dresses, shirts, mark labyrinth lace and embroider backstage and by hand. In 1958, everyone had a “good” or “great” income in activities with threads and needles. However, the younger students (8 and 9 years old) started this activity by making hem (clothes bars) and learning to know the different types of fabrics, threads and needles and the different types of embroidery, as shown in this succinct chart.

Table 3  Use of Sewing students (1858) 

1. Maria Rita Roxo 15 years Sew smooth, mark labyrinth Good
2. Emilia Capistrana Rebelo 14 years Sew smooth Good
3. Amância Lionilia da Cunha 12 years Sew smooth Good
4. Maria Luisa Lisboa 12 years Sew smooth Good
5. Antonia da Conceição 15 years Sew smooth Good
6. Bárbara da Costa 15 years Sew smooth Little
7. Raimunda Paula Barbosa 14 yeras Hem Good
8. Luiza Gonzaga Colas 8 years Sew smooth Good
9. Maria da Costa 14 yeras Sew smooth, mark lace labyrinth and open Good
10. Liberata Augusta 14 years Sew smooth, mark lace labyrinth Good
11. Joanna Rosa de Senna 15 years Stitch, hem Good
12. Joanna do Espírito Santo 13 years Stitch behind, hem Good
13. Francisca Ribeiro 9 years Hem Good
14. Maria Amália Nunes 14 years Sew smooth Good
15. Carolina Amailia Nunes 15 and a half years Sew smooth, mark lace labyrinth, White and hue embroidery Very Good
16. Joanna Aranha 10 years Sew smooth Good
17. Filomena da Graça 12 years Sew smooth Good
18. Maria Dionozia da Glória 11 years Sew smooth Good
19. Maria de Jesus 9 yaers Sew smooth Bad
20. Antonia Virginia Franco de Sá 15 and a half years Sew smooth, mark lace labyrinth, White and hue embroidery Very Good

Source: Report of the Director of the Asylum of Santa Teresa, 1858. 2009.

Sotero do Reis, when assuming the direction of the Asylum in 1867, tries to break with an education that privileged the preparation for the wedding and or for the service of maids in the homes of the wealthy families from Maranhão. His ideas come from his career as an inspector of public education, a professor at the Liceu Maranhense, his political position against slavery and his negative evaluations of the local oligarchy.

The education that girls receive is the most appropriate for such an establishment, because, for the sake of primary education and the gifts of their sex that they acquire in class, they learn to do all housework with washing, starch, cooking. They can therefore leave among them good owners of mothers, teachers, dressmakers, because it is a serious mistake to suppose that girls who have such an education want in a country of slaves to ever lend themselves to the needs of servants in wealthy houses, as they intend some who do not know human creation, and those who come from Europe for a similar purpose seek another way of life by comparison to slave labor (REPORT by Sotero dos Reis, 1867).

As a result, defending the inclusion in the Asylum of the teaching of the French language and the grammar of the native vernacular language along the same lines that were taught at the Lyceum, and drawing and music classes16, such as those taught at the Casa dos Educandos Artífices, would still require extensive reforms in the organization of the establishment and, finally, it would be necessary to take advantage of them as teachers for the competence they had acquired and for the shortage of teachers in all locations in the Province:

I will not end this chapter without your attention to a serious problem, which will sooner or later arise, continuing the current organization of the establishment. The number of students who will reach nubile age is increasing annually. What destiny to give them? Make them slaves? The education they have removed these arbitraries. Marry them? Few marriages are made and it is likely that this side will not achieve great results [...]. Therefore, nothing better than giving them another education (REPORT..., 1870, p. 34).

The education of the poor and helpless of the Santa Teresa Asylum proposed by Sotero dos Reis may reflect the changes that were taking place in the Province in the 19th century in an attempt to establish a progressive and civilized society. If, at the time of its creation, the institution's objective was to train women for marriage, at the time of its termination, there is strong evidence that a broader education was needed and that involved a set of knowledge and practices capable of training them to exercise diverse activities, including teaching. In its fourteen years of operation, it was the privileged place of female education maintained by the provincial coffers, which, on the one hand, served as a shelter and protection from the “luckless,” on the other hand, contributed to the inclusion of women in activities of the male universe how to know how to read, write and count, which, in addition to domestic gifts, how to sew, and embroider made possible their presence and insertion in public spaces.


We conclude that despite its importance as explained in the reports of the provincial presidents and their directors, it has not prevented them from experiencing crises of all kinds throughout their life cycle, from the lack of adequate and comfortable housing to the lack of clothing and food. This situation does not differ from the other institutions for the shelter of poor children and orphans from Maranhão in the 19th century (Casa dos Educandos Artífices, Escola Agrícola do Cutim and Escola de Aprendizes Marinheiros), which, with divergent purposes and nature of training, have similarities in the forms of education, in the control and regulation of time and in the strategies of ordering and regulating bodies and souls.

The transfer of students to the shelter of Nossa Senhora de Anunciação and Remédios (in 1870 through Law N. 918, of July 20th) had already been proposed by Antônio Manoel de Campos Mello, president of the Province, in 1863 (Law nº 635, of May 30), but the pressure of the director and the non-agreement of the Provincial Deputies postponed it for seven years. This president claimed that the inmates would have better accommodations and a religious and moral training if they were under the protection of the church, in addition, he would reduce the provincial expenses with the maintenance of two institutions, since, since the creation of the Asylum, resources have continued to be destined to the shelter for the maintenance of poor and destitute girls who wished to follow the religious life.

Based on Campos Mello's proposal, there is a reduction in the offer of education with the suppression of drawing and music classes, being restricted to Christian doctrine, the first letters and home economics, which would be the most appropriate “to educate underprivileged girls. and that they are destined for a modest future and as a rule for a busy life ”(REPORT, 1870, p. 35); the contrary idea, the “higher education” they received (French, Portuguese grammar, drawing and music) gave them “A certain haughtiness [...] [and made] that service that they undoubtedly consider humiliating and unworthy, unbearable, on the other hand, it makes no family want to receive them as unfortunately so far it has happened ”(REPORT, 1870, p. 35), as stated by Silva Maia in a report that presents the Provincial Assembly in 1871.

These justifications by Silva Maia, president of the Province, to remove the students from the Recollection are added with the statement that, during its trajectory, the institution had not produced the desired fruits: to train women for the services of the home. For him, the transfer would bring numerous advantages, such as saving tens of réis with the administration, renting a house and with the salaries of teachers and employees. In addition, the Recolhimento offered vast and comfortable rooms, unlike the cramped residence of the Asylum with its dark and poorly ventilated rooms and a more rigid and controlled religious education, although there is no obligation to adopt the veil “because young women have been constantly leaving it to get married and there the mothers of the main families of this city have been educated” (REPORT..., 1870, p. 35).

After the authorization of the Diocesan Prelate Frei Luiz da Conceição and Saraiva, in the early hours of the morning of September 19th, 1871, in the “hidden”, due to the lack of clothing, the destitute of the Asylum of Santa Teresa walked the streets and hills of São Luis headed for the shelter of Our Lady of Annunciation and Remedies, leaving part of their lives behind. With all of them gone, the house was closed and the keys handed over to their owner, thus ending the trajectory of the most important civil institution created in Maranhão in the 19th century for the education of women. History that lacks other voices to understand the universe of education of poor and disadvantaged boys and girls from Maranhão, this is our effort.


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1Tradução para o inglês por Profa. Camilla Vanessa Chagas Peixoto de Oliveira - email:

2“During the period he was in Brazil, between 1721 and 1754, religious Frei Malagrida stood out for his performance as a preacher, causing great religious commotion [...]. At the same time, he was a zealous follower of the dictates of the Council of Trento, when he founded a series of religious, seminars, convents for women, shelters for girls, and even, in the restoration of churches” (TAVARES, 1995, p. 132).

3Condurú was one of the most distinguished teachers from Maranhão in the 19th century. Sent to France to learn the Lancaster method and on his return he creates the first Escola Normal do Maranhão next to the Liceu.

4Separate requirements. Fellipe Benicio d'Oliveira Condurú's request for the admission of Raquel Marcelina Alves Campos to the Recollection of Nossa Senhora de Anunciação e Remédios. August 29, 1876. APEM. file 211, doc.19.

5According to the 1945 Primary Public Education regulation, the age to learn the first letters (reading, writing and counting) should be 7 to 14 years old.

6Term that corresponds to admitted girls, because, after joining, they should abandon all relationships and contacts with the outside world.

7Separate requirements. Ursulina Lima's request for admission to the gathering of Our Lady of Annunciation and Remedies. February 21, 1877. APEM. File 211, doc.20.

8Id. Ibid.

9We do not find more consistent documentation about this institution.

10Separate requirements. Application for admission of various students in the Santa Teresa Asylum to the President of the Province. APEM, File 4 Doc. 14.

11On the presence of black girls in school institutions or or in an asylum in Maranhão Empire governance, consult Cruz's research (2008).

12Separate requirements. Dona Maria Jansen Lago's request to the resident of the Province for admission to the Asylum of Santa Teresa for the girl Praxedes. APEM, file.5, -Doc. 7

13As a way to remedy these problems, Antonio Alves de Souza Carvalho, president of the Province, instituted a commission composed of Francisco Sotero dos Reis, Frederico José Correa, João Coelho de Miranda and Francisco Pereira da Silva Novais, to choose a building that was for sale and that it did not need extensive reforms; at the end of the survey, they suggest the purchase of the Casa da Baronesa de São Bento, on Rua de Santo Antônio or that of Alexandre Colares Moreira, but that purchase was only an opinion of the commission.

14Separate requests from Director Sotero dos Reis to the provincial president. APEM, file 6, Doc.21

1560 student pensioners, 21 supernumerary students and 3 private pensioners were transferred.

16Drawing and music classes were suppressed by Law 787, of July 11, 1866.

Received: February 06, 2020; Accepted: May 20, 2020



CESAR AUGUSTO CASTRO é professor titular da Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA). Doutor Em Educação pela Universidade de São Paulo com estágio pós-doutoral na Universidade do Porto. Coordenador do GT de História da Educação da ANPED. Coordenador do Núcleo de Estudos e Documentação e Práticas Leitoras (NEDHEL) do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação da UFMA e da UFPA. Bolsista de Produtividade do CNPq.

SAMUEL LUIS VELAZQUEZ CASTELLANOS é professor Adjunto da Universidade Federal do Maranhão. Doutor em Educação Escolar pela Universidade Estadual Paulista Júlio de Mesquita Filho (2012). Pós-Doutor em Educação pelo Centre d´Histoire Culturalle des Sociétés Contemporaines da Université de Versailles- França. Bolsista de Produtividade da FAPEMA.

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