Vietnamese Holdings in the British Library and British Museum
The British Library has a strong collection of Vietnamese printed books,
including important holdings acquired through official exchange programmes
with North Vietnam during the period of the Vietnam War, during which
period I understand most U.S. libraries were unable to obtain North
Vietnamese imprints. None of these Vietnamese-language books are yet
available on the BL's online catalogue, but are accessed through a card
catalogue in the OIOC Reading Room in the British Library at 96 Euston
Road, London NW1 2DB.
There is also a smaller collection of manuscript material, including
some items formerly thought to be Chinese and only recently identified
Vietnamese. These Vietnamese 'treasures' were recently exhibited in
a small exhibition in the British Library, the accompanying notes to
which can be viewed at http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/topicalvietnam.html.
The British Library also holds the British Library Sound Archive (formerly
the National Sound Archive), the Oral History unit of which recently
acquired a large collection of recordings with the Vietnamese immigrant
community in the UK (see http://www.bl.uk/collections/sound-archive/history.html
for contact details).
In 2002 the British Museum held an exhibition of drawings, paintings
and posters from the Vietnam War, entitled 'Vietnam: Behind the Lines.
Images from the War 1965-75', accompanied by a catalogue. The curator
at the BM responsible for the exhibition was Jessica Harrison-Hall,
who can be contacted at J.Harrisonfirstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Annabel Teh Gallop
Head, South & Southeast Asia section
The British Library
Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
Tel: (00 44 0)20-7412 7661
Fax: (00 44 0)20-7412 7641
From email@example.com Thu Jul 31 07:30:08 2003
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 16:32:09 -0400
From: Gilbert <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Vietnam Studies Group <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: AAS Vietnam panels
As it happens, my recent research at the British Library has turned
up what might be the first treaty between the Nguyen Lords and Europeans
the early eighteenth century. The treaty, which was buried in British
records as neatly as the Arc of the Covenent in the first Indian Jones
film, is rendolent of Chinese classical models, but also offers a diagnosis
of the causes of possible future conflict with European traders. The
treaty failed, and over 15 Europeans were killed as a result, for which
other peoples were blamed, and the Nguyen never returned the considerable
treasure they thereby obtained.
If there is a AAS panel in the making which may provide a home for such
a presentation, please let me know. There are other venues emerging
for this paper, and Tony Ried and John Whitmore have been kind enough
to usefully crtique its larger issues, but a VSG audience at AAS is
the one that would be most useful to me as I develop these documents
and surrounding events into a larger work.
Professor Marc Jason Gilbert
Department of History
North Georgia College and State University
Dahlonega, Georgia 30597
Phone: (706) 864-1911
Fax: (706) 864-1873
This is from the top of my head so I may have some details wrong, but
I remember a conversation with the former head of the Hue Monuments
Conservation Center (Trung tam bao ton di tich co do Hue), Mr. Thai
Cong Nguyen, who mentioned that a number of 19th C tuong (hat boi) operas
for court use had been found in the British Library and translated into
quoc ngu for present-day use. From what he said these were unique documents
for which no records existed within Vietnam.
Although this is beyond my area of expertise, I wonder if the work
Oscar is referring to is:
This 19th-century manuscript is one of a ten-volume set containing some
46 Vietnamese plays and three novels, the originals written over several
centuries. Annotations have been added in red ink. As with the other
items on display, this work is beautifully written in the demotic, or
popular, nom script which consists of Chinese characters adapted for
use with Vietnamese vocabulary. While classical Chinese functioned as
the official language of Vietnam until the end of the 19th century,
from the 13th century onwards nom script was used for popular literary
works in Vietnamese. The use of nom was especially significant in that
it gave poets an opportunity to detach themselves from Chinese literary
conventions and to develop purely Vietnamese poetical metres.
(description from the on-line exhibition notes referred to below).
I know that this is said to be an exceptionally important work.
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