Godoi, Juan Silvano (1850–1926)

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Godoi, Juan Silvano (1850–1926)

Juan Silvano Godoi (b. 12 November 1850; d. 27 January 1926), Paraguayan historian, bibliophile, and political figure. Though born in Asunción, Godoi spent his early years in Buenos Aires, where he studied law. He interrupted his studies in 1869 to return to Paraguay to participate, at age nineteen, in the drafting of his country's first democratic constitution.

The defeat of Marshal Francisco Solano López a year later initiated a period of great political instability and foreign intervention in Paraguay; various factions vied for power. Godoi joined actively in a number of political intrigues, including the 1877 assassination of President Juan Bautista Gill, a Brazilian puppet. As a result of these activities, Godoi was forced into exile and went to Argentina, where he stayed eighteen years. While there, he remained active in emigré politics, however, and on several occasions helped to arm rebel groups who sought to invade Paraguay.

In the mid-1890s Godoi accepted a government compromise that permitted him to return to Asunción. While in exile, he had amassed a prizewinning library of 20,000 volumes, which he now used to form the nucleus of a new national library. From 1902 until his death, Godoi was director of the National Library, Museum, and Archive. He was also a historian of note, having written a dozen studies, including Monografías históricas (1893), Últimas operaciones de guerra del General José Eduvigis Díaz (1897), Mi misión a Río de Janeiro (1897), La muerte del Mariscal López (1905), El baron de Río Branco (1912), and El Asalto a los acorazados (1919). Godoi's personal diaries and manuscripts are now held in the Special Collections Library of the University of California, Riverside.

See alsoGill, Juan Bautista; Libraries in Latin America; López, Francisco Solano.


William Belmont Parker, Paraguayans of To-Day (repr. 1967), pp. 15-17.

Jack Ray Thomas, Biographical Dictionary of Latin American Historians and Historiography (1984).

Carlos Zubizarreta, Cien vidas paraguayas, 2d ed. (1985), pp. 218-222.

Additional Bibliography

Churukian, Araxie P. "The Juan Silvano Godoi Collection at the University of California, Riverside." Latin American Research Review 27 (1992): 121-124.

                                   Thomas L. Whigham