- THE VIETNAM CENTER AND ARCHIVE
- Texas Tech University
How to Use the Virtual Vietnam Archive
How to Use The Virtual Vietnam Archive - Search Examples
1) From the Virtual Vietnam Archive entry page, click "Search the Virtual Vietnam Archive" in the bottom of the left column.
2) On the search form, enter information in as few or as many of the search fields as you would like. For example, enter Tet in the first keyword field.
3) Hit enter on your keyboard, or click "Start Search" in the left column. Using the Tet example, you will receive over 10000 hits.
4) Enter more terms in the search fields to narrow the searches down more. Try 1968 in the first Date field, and check the check box for Oral History.
5) Click "Update Hits" in the left column. You will now have less than 15 hits.
6) To view the results of your search, click "Display Search Results" in the left column.
7) On the Browse Results page, you can view the actual items by clicking on the icons. In the case of our example, you can listen to the actual oral history interviews and/or read a transcript of the interview.
8) To see more information about the items, click the "More Information" link in the top right of each record.
9) When you are finished with your research, click the "Exit the Virtual Archive" link in the left column.
Examples of Common Searches
The Combined Documentation Exploitation Center (CDEC) was created in October 1966 under the MACV Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence (J-2), with the mission of receiving and exploiting captured enemy documents as a source of military intelligence for assessments and planning. The Center's responsibilities included the initial screening, translation, storage, and retrieval of captured documents. The records of the Combined Document Exploitation Center, 1965-73, consist of CDEC Intelligence Bulletins (43 ft.), CDEC translation reports (37 ft.), weekly synopsis reports (1 ft.), and miscellaneous and general records (2 ft.). For the most part, these records are the product of the analysis of documents captured from the North Vietnamese/Viet Cong, which are available on 954 rolls of microfilm.
Documents captured during unit operations were forwarded directly to CDEC in Saigon for processing. They were assigned log numbers, classified by type, date, and circumstances of capture. They were then roughly translated to provide an English language summary and analyzed for general subject classification. Documents were further classified and analyzed and passed on to appropriate units depending upon the cryptological value or the existence of information about Central Intelligence Agency personnel or operations. A variety of documentation was kept at CDEC, including situation reports, circulars, directives, tactical plans, policy statements, after action reports, unit rosters, medical records, propaganda, passes, ID cards, pamphlets, personal diaries, photographs, and letters. Cover sheets were created for each document and summary or full translations prepared depending upon the informational content.
Index cards were prepared for every name and unit identification, and the information entered into an automated system known as File Search. The summarized or translated original and its related documents were then forwarded to be filmed on 35mm motion picture film. The documents were photographically recorded on the picture portion of the tape, and the file index information was recorded on the soundtrack portion. When Saigon fell in 1975 the File Search equipment and ancillary material was left behind.
The National Archives accessioned 106 File-Search-dependant motion picture reels, each 1,000 ft. in length and divided into ten segments. The individual segments were copied by the National Archives onto 954 rolls of standard 35mm microfilm. Rolls 2-914 contain copies of captured Vietcong and North Vietnamese documents, and rolls 915-955 comprise the CDEC Intelligence Bulletins. The microfilm, assigned the identifier A3354, includes approximately 3,000,000 images of captured documents and materials used by CDEC to process these documents. Although the National Archives has been unable to access the File Search subject codes, researchers can use the CDEC Intelligence Bulletins to facilitate research in this collection. A more detailed discussion of the records and search procedures is available in National Archives Special List 60, Captured North Vietnamese Documents of the Combined Document Exploitation Center.
To search for documents from the CDEC collection, enter CDEC in the Document Title search field. This will result in a very large number of hits. You will want to narrow down your search using other search fields before attempting to view the results of your search.
In 2004, the United States Marine Corps History & Museums Division donated over 100 CDs of documents they had digitized to the Vietnam Archive, giving us permission to add make them available through the Virtual Vietnam Archive. The materials include many of the official records of the Marine Corps during the Vietnam Archive, including such materials as After Action Reports. More materials are added online as they become available to us.
To search for documents from the USMC collection, enter US Marine Corps in the Collection Title search field. This will result in a very large number of hits. You will want to narrow down your search using other search fields before attempting to view the results of your search.
The My Lai Collection contains the records and papers that describe the My Lai incident as well as the legal battles of several United States Army officers and enlisted men indicted for the murder of unarmed Vietnamese citizens. On March 16, 1968, Company C/1st Battalion/20th Infantry under Captain Ernest L. Medina's command executed what was supposed to be another routine search and destroy mission against the village My Lai 4, believed to be a Viet Cong stronghold. Upon entering the hamlet with no resistance, 1st platoon's commander, Lieutenant William L. Calley, Jr., ordered his men to round all of the civilians living there and to bring them to the center of the village. Lt. Calley then opened fire on the unarmed Vietnamese, summarily executing them. The rest of his platoon subsequently looted the hamlet, burned the huts, and shot all Vietnamese that were still alive. The massacre remained covered up until Ronald Ridenhour wrote a letter describing what he knew of the incident to President Richard Nixon and several congressmen and defense department officials in 1969. The letter prompted an investigation and the indictment of several officers and enlisted men on charges of murder and assault with the intent to commit murder. Lt. Calley was the only soldier to be found guilty while the others were either acquitted or had their charges dismissed. Calley was later pardoned by President Nixon. Scope And Content The collection contains four boxes approximately four linear feet in length. For convenience, the collection is divided into the following categories; legal documents, correspondence, handwritten notes, printed materials, military records, and photographs. All of the categories are subdivided by subject. However, the collection does not contain the complete records of the incident or the subsequent trials and investigations. Central to the My Lai Collection are witness statements of many of the participants at My Lai. These formed the basis of evidence the U. S. Army used to indict Lt. Calley and others. The statements are followed by several other legal documents, mostly court cases between the United States Government and members of Company C. Other incidents are represented as well. These are followed by the correspondence and notes pertaining to the legal cases. The material is dated between 1956 and 1973 with the majority of documents from 1968 to 1972. Material prior to the My Lai incident is found, with some exceptions, within the Printed Materials series. There are several published court cases where decisions were made that had bearing on his representation of the My Lai cases. There are also several published materials by the Department of the Army, ie. manuals, which explain the procedures of the trial process in a military court of law during the Vietnam War era. Finally, some U. S. Army publications are still part of the collection but not housed within the collection itself. They have been cataloged and housed separately to make them more generally available. The My Lai Collection has eighteen photographs taken by United States Army photographer Ronald Haeberle, some of which were subsequently published in Life magazine. Haeberle won a Pulitzer prize for these photographs which document the horrific results of the incident. Most of the pictures are quite graphic in their depiction of violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience. The remaining photographs were taken by Defense Department officials to document the My Lai investigation and other biographical information.
To search for materials in the My Lai collection, enter My Lai in the Collection Title search field. Please note, if you enter My Lai as a search term in the keyword search field, you will get more hits than just with My Lai in the collection title field. The keyword search will include items that mention My Lai from other collections, as well as from the My Lai Collection.
To search for materials you donated to the Vietnam Archive, the first step to try is to enter your last name in the Collection Title field. If you have a common last name, you may want to enter your first and last name. Sometimes, we also include a middle initial. The Deed of Gift you received will have the name of your collection on it. You can also use the Collection Titles index to find your collection name. Please remember that it may take a while before your donation appears online.
The Douglas Pike Collection is the Vietnam Archive's largest collection. There are well over 100,000 items for his collection available online. Professor Pike organized his collection based on topic into a number of series. Most of these series are called units.
The Pike Collection is the only Vietnam Archive collection organized into "Units". To search for materials in a particular unit, the quickest option is to enter the word unit followed by the unit number as a two digit numeric number.
There are two ways to see a listing of all of the units and other series in the Pike collection. You can click on the Collection Titles Index, then go to the "D" section, and read through all of the Douglas Pike entries (see the Index Terms Pages section of this tutorial for more information). The second way is to enter Pike in the Collection Title field, and check the Finding Aids check box This will allow you to browse through the individual Finding Aids for each Pike Collection series.
There are a number of ways to access the Oral Histories in the Vietnam Archive collection. The first is to select the Oral History check box in the Media Format section of the Virtual Archive.
Below are links to other Oral History collection access methods. The following links will take you out of this tutorial: