I recently came across a journal that was published in colonial Vietnam called the Official Bulletin in the Indigenous Language. It was an official publication for Tonkin (Bắc Kỳ) which announced to the public laws and decisions which had been made by the colonial authority.

It is a very interesting journal, because while it contains announcements about laws and decisions which were made by the French, it also contains statements by Emperor Bảo Đại. So for anyone who wishes to examine the overlapping authority of the French and the Nguyễn Dynasty in its last days, this journal looks like it would be a great source.

Another point which caught my attention is that this journal contains announcements for journals and newspapers which the colonial authorities approved for publication. What is interesting is that one can find many publications mentioned here which I don’t think anyone has ever heard of before.

Are historians of colonial Vietnam familiar with the Saint Dominic Bimonthly? How about the Women’s Weekly? The Moscow Journal? Theater and Cinema?

I didn’t think so. That’s why this journal is fascinating, as it opens a window onto parts of a past world which historical writings to date have not revealed or examined.