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Superintendant's Drawing Office Staff
The British Superintendant of the
Mines poses with his staff.

Foreman of Shops and Native Clerks
Most positions of authority were
occupied by British citizens.

H.R.H. The Duke of Saxe & H.R.H. Prince Philip
Members of the royal family visit Morro Velho.


The British Role in Morro Velho

click any of the photos for more detail.

The British involvement in Morro Velho and the other mining operations of the Saint John d'El Rey Company transcended mere ownership, though of course British shareholders readily accepted dividends from the mines' profits. The Company typically sent superintendants to the mines directly from England. Brits also occupied most other management positions and performed a good number of the "skilled" roles. Interestingly, experienced miners from Great Britain also voyaged to Brazil to work Morro Velho. In particular, men from traditional mining regions in Britain, such as Cornwall, were highly valued as labor. logo

Of course, the Nineteenth Century saw the expansion of European overseas empires, and the British involvement in Morro Velho did take on imperialistic overtones, despite the fact that the Saint John d'El Rey Company licensed all of its mining operations from the Brazilian government. The Saint John d'El Rey Archive at the Benson Collection includes photographs of various members of the British royal family visiting Morro Velho (then a world famous gold mine.) In one of the photos seen here, African-Brazilian workers entertain the royal guests. Most of the African-Brazilians shown would have begun their careers at the mines as slaves, as Brazil did not enact emancipation until 1888.

Staff at Work
Operating a successful gold mine involved skillful planning.

Cornish Mine Workers
Morro Velho mine workers from Cornwall pose for a group portrait

Traditional African Dance Performed for Royalty
Mine workers entertain the Royal visitors.

Last updated: April 18th, 2010.
Created by: Beau Steenken - Graduate Research Assistant
Benson Latin American Collection, University of Texas at Austin
Please send comments to: schroer@mail.utexas.edu

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