Consistent projects for encyclopedias with Brazilian contents did not occur until the late 1930s. As a fact, there is notice of only two such projects. The first, by Alarico Silveira, after 40 years of work by 1939 had only reached letter ‘C’, to a total of about 16,000 entries. By this time, Mário de Andrade was charged by the National Book Institute to publish a Brazilian encyclopedia, and for this purpose he contacted Silveira to join efforts. Andrade’s project was ambitious, seeking to reach both intellectual elites and overall population. The project would thus include erudite entries targeting the former aiming at delving deeper into subjects seldom dealt with in encyclopedias. In addition, simpler and more elucidating entries would be included targeting the overall population, including synonyms for the more popular words. Despite the support of some government agencies, Andrade’s project, formulated in 1939/40, could not be accomplished, for several reasons we will address in the proposed presentation. As to Silveira’s prolix encyclopedia, only the first volume (letter ‘A’) was posthumously published in 1958. Shortly, none of these early projects could be completed. On these grounds we might infer that the Brazilian attempts at creating a national encyclopedia were sporadic and limited to the efforts of single individuals, and for this reason the outcomes were unsatisfactory. In the proposed paper we intend to revisit in greater detail the history of the ill-fated Brazilian encyclopedias, since hints indicate that it might be much more complex than what it seems at first sight.