The Vietnam Center and Archive
July 2, 2014 9:51 PM   Subscribe

The Texas Tech Vietnam Center and Archive "collects and preserves the documentary record of the Vietnam War, and supports and encourages research and education regarding all aspects of the American Vietnam Experience." It includes vast sections of digitized material, including audio, video, maps, as well as all manner of documents.

The archives are searchable--for example, here are materials related to Medal of Honor winner Dwight Johnson, who survived combat in Vietnam only do die violently in his hometown of Detroit when attempting to rob a convenience store. He was on leave from a hospital where he was being given psychiatric care.

Jungle Doctor, a recounting of an Army physician's treatment of Vietnamese civilians.

Two Veterans Recount Their Roles in My Lai
posted by MoonOrb (7 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
It's indeed a treasure trove for historians. My SO used it abundantly for her PhD on French schools in Vietnam post 1945. The USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse is also a great resource on this period.
posted by elgilito at 1:17 AM on July 3, 2014

Last fall I was traveling in Vietnam and discovered the amazing journal of an idealistic, young, woman North Vietnamese doctor, called Last Night I Dreamed of Peace.

The original is housed in the Texas Vietnam Archive, donated by the soldier who found it after the doctor was killed. He was going to burn it along with some other artifacts when his translator apparently said to him, "This is already on fire."

The Texas Vietnam Archive tracked down the doctor's relatives, and it was published in Vietnam and became a huger best-seller!
posted by maggiemaggie at 5:47 AM on July 3, 2014

The "American Vietnam Experience" is a little too innocuous sounding for me.
posted by signal at 6:39 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Neat stuff, even if you have to jump through hoops a little until you figure out how to get what you want. By the way, the "maps" link doesn't work for me; I think it should go here.

> The "American Vietnam Experience" is a little too innocuous sounding for me.

Oh, please. I suppose if it were up to you it would be called FUCK YOU AMERICAN HEGEMONIC IMPERIALISM EVIL INVADING BAD PEOPLE!! That would certainly cause it to be taken more seriously and be a more useful resource.
posted by languagehat at 6:50 AM on July 3, 2014

Right, that's exactly the name I was going to suggest.
posted by signal at 7:45 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

So what is the name you were going to suggest? Or were you just emitting meaningless snark?
posted by languagehat at 8:00 AM on July 3, 2014

This site seems to be a treasure trove. I'm looking forward to exploring it.

It's worth commenting, here on the blue, that most Vietnamese think of that era as "The American War" or "The Second Indo China War." Many Americans are still bitter, and attribute the outcome as being various flavors of failure, except on the part of those who went there. If you let the history channel guide you, to learn that our Air Force actually won the war, with one successful bomb run after another. Other rationalizations are at least that interesting to explore.

Even now, many of my fellows (ex-military) become enraged with certain things: Jane Fonda, the Hippies, our spineless Congress, the "American Public" itself for not having the balls to follow through. Many of these persons carry painful notions, many of which are unfounded in fact. Yet their pain is real, and the loss they experienced was actual. My view is more complex. In the end, though, we lost our war. Our goals and the Vietnamese goals were not merely antithetical, they came from different sections of the galaxy. I am willing to develop that argument in another venue.

Not the least invested in the war were those in our counter-culture (at that time), who thought our presence was immoral, perhaps even illegal, and who spent their time and energy protesting against it. In many ways the Vietnam war was a civil war here in the US. From my perspective, we nearly had a revolution in fact, instead of a cultural upheaval that (nearly) amounted to such. Indeed, the era from 1964 (more or less) to 1975 saw what amounted to a perfect wave of civilian response to our times: the Peace Movement was a blanket that covered a wide range of civil rights issues, which struck at the core of our image as a nation.

I respectfully urge those interested to read Le Duan's "Letters to The South," for an insightful view of the war from the viewpoint of those we fought. Some of you may also come across the diary of a North Vietnamese photographer, a sort of Vietnamese Michener, who told tales of the Ho Chi Minh trail (forgive me if my brainfarts won't let me come up with his name). He developed his photos in mudpuddles. Stations along the route to the south were a lot like freeway off ramps, providing the fighters and porters with food, medical care, and places to rest. Over a period that spanned nearly two decades, young Vietnames manned those stations. They grew up, grew old, fell in love, formed bonds, far from home.

The Vietnam era, for me, is not about the wavering notions of politics, or even national sovereignty, but about we who lived through it.

From the distance of half a century, I suppose young folks are likely to let snark float to the top of their reactions. Maybe I would summarize that way, too, if I hadn't lived through it, if my data base came from reading selected texts.
posted by mule98J at 10:08 AM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

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