Vietnam Studies Group
Research & Study
Guides to Archives
Teaching & Reference
News & Announcements
Vietnam Scholars Directory
Discussion & Networking
About the Organization


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 as
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.Harrison-hall@british-museum.ac.uk

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
e-mail: annabel.gallop@bl.uk


From mgilbert@ngcsu.edu Thu Jul 31 07:30:08 2003
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 2003 16:32:09 -0400
From: Gilbert <mgilbert@ngcsu.edu>
Reply-To: vsg@u.washington.edu
To: Vietnam Studies Group <vsg@u.washington.edu>
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 in
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
E-mail: mgilbert@ngcsu.edu


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.

Oscar Salemink

Dear Judith,

Although this is beyond my area of expertise, I wonder if the work Oscar is referring to is:

Vietnamese Plays
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.
Or. 8218

(description from the on-line exhibition notes referred to below).

I know that this is said to be an exceptionally important work.



Return to top of page