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Visiting the Vietnam National Archives Center IV

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dr. Hue with interpreter showing mended document
Today we visited the National Archives Center IV in Dalat, Vietnam. This visit was in sharp contrast to our visit to the Vietnam Institute of Oceanography. Our visit with the VNIO was quite causal and informal. Today’s meeting was very formal, complete with speeches, a gift, and several photo sessions. Linda Pikula and I were greeted by Ms. Pham Thi Hue and her interpreter, Ms. Le Thi Lan.

After giving a brief history of the archives and an explanation of preservation methods, we were given a tour of the archives. All was quite modern with excellent shelving, smoke alarms, and fire suppresant system. One interesting thing of note is that they run the fans for the air-conditioning system but not the cooling. Temperature is kept at 21 degrees Celsius or 70 degrees Fahrenheit and humidity is around 60-70%.

Their documents are repaired by lining the pages with handmade paper and attaching the paper with cacboxyl methyl cellulose glue. In addtion to their documentary collection, they also have a large woodblock collection of the Nguyen dynasty. Just think — the characters needed to be carved in the reverse in order to print on paper. The wood block below illustrates a title page.

Wood carving showing title pageMended document showning the handmade paper backing where original is missing