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Emilia da Fonseca Cruz (Miloca), Oswaldo Cruz's wife. s.d.; s.l. The Ugo Oswaldo Cruz Collection

In 1886, the year Oswaldo Gonçalves Cruz took his medical school entrance exam, Emperor Dom Pedro II appointed his father, Bento Gonçalves Cruz, as a member of the Central Board of Public Hygiene. His father’s advancing public service career coincided precisely with the years that the young Cruz attended medical school (1887-1892). In 1890, under the country’s fledgling republican government, Bento Cruz became assistant to the head of the General Inspectorate of Hygiene, which replaced the Central Board. Two years later, he was promoted to inspector-general.

Bento held the post for only a few months. He was forced to leave by his nephritis, a serious kidney disease that brought his death at the age of 47, on November 8, 1892. That same day, Oswaldo graduated from medical school. After that, he adopted a new signature, omitting his first name and using only his last two—“Gonçalves Cruz”—in a tribute to his father.

Oswaldo Cruz inherited his interest in public health from his father. He also acquired his sense of discipline and duty and his belief in honest, honorable work. He often visited the sepulcher where his father had been laid to rest in São João Batista cemetery, leaving flowers and stopping to meditate.

On January 5, 1893, Cruz married Emília da Fonseca, his girlfriend since his teens. Miloca, as she was affectionately called by the family, was the daughter of Elisa da Cunha Fonseca and Commander Manuel José da Fonseca, a wealthy Portuguese merchant.

Manuel, or Fonsecote, as he was known, was against the marriage at first, but his misgivings didn’t last long. He soon grew fond of his son-in-law and the feeling was entirely mutual. As a wedding gift, his father-in-law gave Oswaldo a fully equipped microbiology laboratory, built on the ground floor of the new house where the couple went to live, on Rua Jardim Botânico. Some years later, when Oswaldo expressed interest in spending time studying at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, his father-in-law once again stepped in, financing the trip.

Cruz lived with his family in Paris from May 1897 to August 1899. Their residence was located at 26 rue Marbeuf, a side street along the famous Champs Élysées. The scientist used his time in the French capital to enjoy one of his greatest loves, the theater, where Sarah Bernhardt was the big star of the day. His photography hobby also dates to this era; it became a lifelong passion, earning him the nickname Dr. Photographer.

Upon returning to Rio de Janeiro, Cruz first lived in his father-in-law’s home in the neighborhood of Vidigal, from there moving to 128 Rua Voluntários da Pátria, in the neighborhood of Botafogo. In February 1907, he and his family moved again, this time to a large home at 406 Praia de Botafogo. The house was designed by the architect Luiz Moraes Junior, who was also responsible for the Castle at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute. Cruz set up a small darkroom at home for his work as an amateur photographer.

Oswaldo and Emília Cruz had six children: Elisa, Bento, Hercília, Oswaldo, Zahra (who died as a baby), and Walter. All three men followed in their father’s footsteps, studying medicine. Oswaldo and Walter in fact worked at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute. Bento, the oldest, never practiced the profession.