I have long known that the Yale University Library holds materials from the private collection of French scholar Maurice Durand, however I just realized today that some of these materials have been digitized, and are now available online.

web page

The majority of the digitized materials appear to be literary works. This pdf file here (Durand collection) lists the materials in the collection, or from the main web page, click “Search the Collection.”

What is particularly valuable is that there are numerous Nôm texts in this collection that have been transliterated into Romanized Vietnamese.


This then brings up an interesting point – who transliterated these works? The transliterations are written in notebooks together with the original Nôm. What is more, the handwriting is beautiful!

Is this the work of Maurice Durand? My guess would be that it most certainly isn’t. Instead, it is the work of unnamed and unrecognized Vietnamese scholars.


Someone pointed this fact out to me long ago. Behind each of the great French scholars of the colonial era (Maspero, Aurousseau, etc.) were Vietnamese scholars who worked for them, and who were not acknowledged.

So while the Yale University Library web page does state that the materials in the Durand collection were “collected by Maurice Durand,” it looks more to me like these are materials that Durand “ordered” Vietnamese to create for him (and I hope that he at least paid them well for it).

As such, these are not really “Maurice Durand Han Nom Handwritten and Woodblock Manuscripts.” Instead, they are the manuscripts of unnamed Vietnamese scholars. And they are extremely valuable. It is therefore wonderful that the Yale University Library has digitized them and made them available to the world.