HARRISSE, Henry (1823-1910)
Historian, bibliophile, and learned Frenchman, son of a Parisian mother and a foreign father, he considered himself North American, and was one of the 19th century´s most productive authors. In the 1840s, he emigrated to the United States. He completed his college studies at the University of South Carolina, teaching afterwards at the University of North Carolina, and practicing law in Chicago and New York.
Inspired by his friend, Samuel L. M. Barlow, he opted to study the Colonial Period in the Americas. After the publication of Notes on Columbus (1866), he prepared a bibliography of American authors of the period between 1492 and 1551, which was published under the title Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima (1866). In this study, he presented and described three hundred rare works published in various languages and related to the discovery of America. The public´s weak reaction to this work, however, led him to return to France, where he was received enthusiastically. There he conducted and edited most of his research, which focused predominantly on the voyages of discovery and exploration of the New World. In this work, Henry Harrisse appropriately emphasized the activities of the Corte Real Portuguese, along with Cristopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Jean Cabot.
From among the more than fifty articles and monographs that he authored, we emphasize the following titles: Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, New York, G. P. Philes, 1866; Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima: Additions, Paris, Tross, 1872; Les Corte Real et leurs Voyages au Nouveau Monde d'après des documents nouveaux ou peu connus tirés des Archives de Lisbonne et de Modène [?], Paris, Ernest Leroux, Éditeur, 1883; Gaspar Corte Real. La date exacte de sa dernière expédition au Nouveau Monde d'après des documents inédits récemment tirés des Archives de la Torre do Tombo à Lisbonne, Paris, Ernest Leroux, Éditeur, 1883; Christophe Colomb, son origine, sa vie, ses voyages, sa famille et ses descendants d'après des documents inédits tirés des Archives de Gênes, de Savone, de Séville et de Madrid. Études d'histoire critique, Paris, Ernest Leroux, Éditeur, 1884, 2 vols.; Christophe Colomb et les Académiciens Espagnols. Notes pour servir à l'Histoire de la Science en Espagne au XIXe siècle par [?], ?Essais de Bibliographie et d'Histoire Critiques, Nº 1?, Paris, H. Welter, Éditeur, 1894; Americus Vespuccius. A Critical and Documentary Review of Two recent English Books concerning that Navigator, London, B. F. Stevens, 1895; and The Diplomatic History of America. Its first chapter 1452?1493?1494, London, B. F. Stevens, Publisher, 1897.
A significant portion of this historian´s legacy, the ?Henry Harrisse Papers?, is found in the Manuscript Department of the North Carolina University Library. Let us also underline that Henry Harrisse, who was knowledgeable about Iberian sources and Literature, maintained an epistolary exchange with Jacinto Inácio de Brito Rebelo, a close collaborator of Ernesto do Canto´s (Biblioteca Pública e Arquivo Regional de Ponta Delgada [Ponta Delgada´s Public Library and Regional Archives], Ernesto do Canto Collection [ECC], EC/CORR. 886 RES. and EC/CORR. 954 RES.), and that this learned Micaelense [native of São Miguel Island] and mentor of Arquivo dos Açores also contributed to the development of Henry Harisse´s work, by compiling the countless data that he would work with.
BASSETT, J. S.,?Later Historians? in Ward, A. W., Waller, A. R., Trent, W. P., Erskine, J., Sherman, S. P., e Van Doren, C. (eds.), The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: An encyclopedia in eighteen volumes [1907-1921], New York-Cambridge, G. P. Putnam?s Sons-Cambridge University Press/Bartleby.com, XVII: Later National Literature, Part II, 2000 . CANTO, Ernesto do (1981), ?Os Corte Reaes. Memoria Historica? in Arquivo dos Açores, edição fac similada da edição original, Ponta Delgada, Universidade dos Açores, IV: 385 590. RODRIGUES, José Damião e Silveira, Francisco (2000), ?Ernesto do Canto, Brito Rebelo e a construção do Arquivo dos Açores? inArquipélago, História, 2ª Série, IV, 1: 53-98. VIGNAUD, Henry, ?Henry Harrisse?, Journal de la Société des Américanistes, Tome 8-1-2, 1911, pp. 286-288.
Author: José Damião Rodrigues
Translated by: Maria João Pimentel