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French papers offer glimpse into past

Update: August, 12/2014 - 09:24
HCM City. — File Photo

Researchers are seeking UNESCO recognition for the documents

HCM CITY  (VNS) — Vietnamese researchers and authorities are planning to seek UNESCO "material heritage" recognition for a group of documents from the former French government in Southern Viet Nam.

The documents were left in the country in 1945. They are believed to be excellent sources for local and international researchers to study the development of the Southern region and HCM City.

Dr Le Huu Phuoc, vice principal of HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities, who has conducted research on Con Dao Prison, said the administrative documents were an invaluable resource.

Huynh Thi Can, a former lecturer of history at Hue University, said the papers were the best evidence for historians to learn about events of the past.

"The archived materials can be used to correct other sources of materials of history, folk culture and others, because they are administrative documents created at that time," Can said.

The materials, from the government of French CochinChina between 1858 and 1945, are stored in HCM City's Vietnamese National Archives Centre No 2 on 2,434m of shelves.

With the materials, all of the activities of the French and the uprising of the Vietnamese in southern Viet Nam can be traced clearly, the former director of the centre, Dr Phan Dinh Nham, said.

He said that the administrative documents meet the criteria for being recognised as a UNESCO heritage.

The administrative documents recorded the registration of La Touche Treville when it berthed at Sai Gon Port on June 3, 1911 and departed the port on June 5, 1911.

The ship carried Nguyen Tat Thanh (former President Ho Chi Minh), who worked as a kitchen maid on it.

Deputy head of the HCM City University of Social Sciences and Humanities' History Faculty Dr Tran Thuan said that more foreigners were studying these administrative documents.

According to the centre, between October 1979 and December 2013, 211 foreign readers visited to look up information in the administrative documents of the government of French CochiChina. Most of the researchers were French, American or Japanese.

Viet Nam has received recognition from UNESCO'S Asia – Pacific Region's Memory of the World Programme for 82 stone steles honouring doctoral candidates at has received recognition for material Ha Noi's Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (the Temple of Literature) during the Le-Mac Dynasty; Nguyen Dynasty's royal administrative documents; wood-blocks of the Nguyen Dynasty; and the collection of wooden blocks carved with Buddhist sutras at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang Province. — VNS

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