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Vintage Postcards Show Life in Vietnam in the Early 20th Century

Ha Long Bay is now a famous tourism destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1900 - 1909.

Ha Long Bay is now a famous tourism destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1900 – 1909.

On January 6, 2016, the New York Public Library announced that more than 180,000 digitized items are now part of its public domain collection. This means online readers can access and download a treasure trove of rare, archived materials for free. Aside from this, the library is encouraging the public to explore the digital collection and remix the materials in order to create and share new content.

Part of the digital archive are old postcards from the Asia-Pacific region of the world showing how people lived in the then-colonized countries. Some of these postcards featured Vietnam during the French colonial rule in the early 1900s. The postcards provide a rare glimpse of Vietnamese landscapes, indigenous traditions, commerce, and life in colonial city centers. Take a look.

Hanoi Théâtre, Rue Paul-Bert. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Hanoi Théâtre, Rue Paul-Bert. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Tiger caught and killed in a trap. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1909

Tiger caught and killed in a trap. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1909

A wagon in a Saigon road. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1908

A wagon in a Saigon road. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1908

A Cantilever bridge in Hanoi. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

A Cantilever bridge in Hanoi. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Saigon Opera House. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1910

Saigon Opera House. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1910

The silver chariot of the Chetties. A religious procession in Vietnam. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

The silver chariot of the Chetties. A religious procession in Vietnam. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

A houseboat in a river in Nam Dinh province. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

A houseboat in a river in Nam Dinh province. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Vietnamese children in Saigon. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Vietnamese children in Saigon. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections

Nam-Dinh Pier. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1911

Nam-Dinh Pier. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1911

Log rafts in Tuyen-Quang province. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1900 - 1909.

Log rafts in Tuyen-Quang province. Photo from The New York Public Library Digital Collections, 1900 – 1909.

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