Precise numbers are easily available in large quantities concerning Vietnam's demographic and economic evolution during the modern period ( we are here using the term employed by Vietnamese scholars to designate the colonial period ). We can distinguish four types of sources:
1) Collections of statistics which were produced by the colonial administration, either on regular basis, such as the statistical reports, or at specific moments, such as the series of studies each administrative service in Indochina produced for the French colonial Exposition in Vincennes in 1931. The statistics which appear in such annual reports can be considered as reliable. The statistical apparatus in place in Indochina was comparable to the one in France in the same period, especially after 1914.
2) The extant bibliography of the colonial period, which is rich and often dependable. These texts should not be neglected since they were often the work of dedicated and extremely well trained administrators. Such was the case for Henri Brenier director of economic services before 1914, or for Paul Bernard, or for Charles Robequain. In contrast to the African colonies, Indochina was seen as an important and relevant field of experience for ambitious French civil servants, politicians or even scholars.
3) Many private sources can also be consulted regarding banking, insurance plantations, mining, manufacturing, transportation, trading companies, insurance. The access to these data is not always easily granted, especially in the case of the former Banque de l' Indochina. In such a conservative banking institution, the records concerning administrators who were in Vietnam during the Japanese occupation was until recently considered a sensitive issue due to the positions held in the management of the bank of several of these persons right up until the 1980s.
4) The archives of the local administration constitute a fundamental resource for the study of Vietnam's economic and demographic evolution during the colonial period. Those archives often supplied the two first categories of sources with their information, either directly or through the use of extrapolation; it is often useful, therefore, for researchers to return to the original source rather than to rely exclusively upon yearbooks. In this paper, we emphasise the administrative archives, which are precise, numerous and readily available. For the most part, the large volume of sources from the public administration are well classified. But one's early optimism should be mitigated by several realisations that come from the practical experience of the archives as much as from the analysis so far conducted.
Unfortunately, the archives are scattered between Vietnam ( Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City ) and France ( Aix - en - Provence, Toulon and Paris ). The French archivists and those in Vietnam have made considerable efforts to classify the archives and to make them available to the public. Aix - en - Provence has recently opened up a new collection, the archives of the Etat - Major, which shed some light on the frontier with China around the turn of the century, and on the railroads of Indochina. Similarly, the alphabetical classification of the Governor General's files has been made available to the public, along with the analytical classification. Several books offer comprehensive presentations of these sources, such as Descours-Gatin and Villiers ( 1983 ), Lieu and Cadier ( 1986 ) or Devos, Nicot and Schillinger ( 1990 ). Other monographs indicate accurately the references of archives' files used for research on particular issues, such as trade and tariff policy ( Marseille, 1986 ) or banking and monetary policy ( Gonjo, 1994 ), or other topics ( Brocheux and Hemery ( 1995 ); Murray ( 1980 ). Part of the resources to be found in French National Archives are presented in a catalogue ( sources de l' histoire de l' Asie...; 1981 ). The National Archives of Vietnam recently published a catalogue of Hanoi's collections from the colonial period ( Guide des sources du Vietnam moderne..., 1995 ), which presents a number of neglected collections, such as the archives of the Flotte Indochinoise ( Indochina Shipping Company ) or that of the Société Cotonnière du Tonkin ( Tonkin Spinning Company ). This catalogue is an example of collaborative work between Vietnamese and French librarians.
Despite these efforts, the researcher's work is hampered by the splitting of certain collections. Thus the archives of the Governor General of Indochina which ought to be grouped together in Aix - en - Provence ( France ), are in fact dispersed across several collections and several locations. A considerable number of files seem to have been left behind in Hanoi and without them it is impossible to correctly evaluate the realities of this period of Vietnam's history, particularly in terms of economic issues. In addition to this split between France and Vietnam, the collection is sometimes divided even within administrative jurisdictions : the archives of the Flotte Indochinoise stayed in Hanoi, despite the fact that the service was part of the Department of Douanes et Regies. Conversely, the archives of the Department of Economic Affairs, addressing a wide variety of topics, are in Aix - en - Provence. The researcher must keep this scattering of collections constantly in mind, because the archives which were kept in Vietnam are generally of great interest and their consultation can no longer be neglected, given that latterly the opening of Vietnam has made such consultation possible.
One should pay special attention to the papers of the Department of Finance, which remained in Hanoi. This sizable collection is in the process of being reclassified and seems thus far never to have been utilised by researchers, despite the obvious interest the files hold and the importance of the Department of Finance in the colonial system in situ in Indochina. In particular, one could look here for files on the piastre and monetary movements, on the Banque Industrielle de Chine - the Banque de l' Indochina's great rival from the 1920s - and on the establishment of Japanese organisations in Indochina during World War II. This collection would be very useful for the proposed study.
Complementary information could be found at different public libraries : in Vietnam, the National Library ( Hanoi ), the Library of Vietnam's Institute of Social and Human Sciences ( Hanoi ), Ho Chi Minh City University. In France, the main libraries on Vietnam are those of the Archives of former French colonies, of the University of Provence ( Aix en Provence ), especially the CADIST, of the IHCC Research Center ( also in Aix - en - Provence ), of the IRSEA - CNRS Research Center ( in Marseilles St Charles from autumn 1998 ), and of the Chamber of Commerce of Marseilles. One should also note the library of the ASEMI ( University of Nice ) and the National Library in Paris ( Bibliotheque Nationale ).
Apart from France and Vietnam, one should also mention the libraries of the University of Leiden ( Netherlands ), Berlin ( Universität Humbolt ) the United States ( the Library of Congress, the Library of Cornell University, inter alia ) and in Japan ( The Institute of Economic Research at Hitotsubashi University ; The University of Tokyo ; The Institute of Developing Economies ). Thus far in this research project, the library and archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Japan have not been consulted systematically. Theses sources, and more generally Japanese official reports, may well be essential to adequately compensate for the lack of information in the French archives on economic policy in Vietnam under the Japanese military occupation and indirect rule ( 1940 - 1945 ).