Sugar: Selections From the Braga Brothers Collection at the University of Florida

Carl Van Ness (University of Florida)

The Braga Brothers Collection at the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries is one of the world’s largest archival sources documenting the sugar-cane industry in the modern era. The principal holdings in the collection are the records of the Czarnikow-Rionda Company of New York and its affiliates elsewhere in the United States and in Cuba. From the beginning of the 20th century until the early 1960s, Czarnikow-Rionda was one of North America's largest traders of sugar and molasses. Its affiliates were involved in the manufacturing and distribution of sugar products and included cane farms, sugar mills, warehouses, alcohol distilleries, railroads, and a refinery.

The Braga brothers were George Atkinson Braga and B. Rionda Braga. In 1969, the brothers sold their controlling interest in the Czarnikow-Rionda Company to C. Brewer and Co., Ltd. In doing so, they ended a family association with the firm that began in 1896. As part of the sales agreement, the Bragas retained two assets from the company. One was its molasses business, which they continued under the name Braga Brothers, Inc. The second asset was the company’s archive, stored in a warehouse in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, which also included family records dating back to the 1860s. The Bragas donated the archive to the University of Florida in 1981 and the Braga Brothers Collection opened to researchers in 1985. Today, the collection contains 375 linear feet of records spanning the years 1860 to 1984. The Braga material chosen for Global Commodities was selected from files in the following seven of the collection’s 109 records series:

Series 8: Records of Bernardo Braga Rionda, 1891-1953

Series 10: Manuel Rionda y Polledo. Subject files, 1902-1946

Series 33: Circulars and trade publications, 1872-1880

Series 47: Czarnikow-Rionda Company. Research Department records, 1954-1962

Series 48: Czarnikow-Rionda Company. Research Department reference files, 1954-1962

Series 64: Cuba Cane Sugar Corporation. Records, 1916-1934

Series 106: Manati Sugar Company. Financial records, 1912-1968