PRIO's historical archive on it's way to the National archive. August 2022. Photo: Cathrine Bye / PRIO
PRIO's historical archive on it's way to the National archive. August 2022. Photo: Cathrine Bye / PRIO

The PRIO Archive (about 1500 physical boxes) is now deposited at the National Archives of Norway. Most of the material is accessible to all users.

The Vietnam research example

In late 1946, full -scale war broke out in Indochina between the French colonial power and the young self-declared Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV). For the next 45 years, Indochina was the battleground in three consecutive wars: The French War (1946–54), the American War (1964–75), known in the West as 'the Vietnam War', and the Third Indochina War for Cambodia (1978–91), which included a Sino-Vietnamese border war (1979–87). The end result was the Paris peace agreement on Cambodia in 1991, which led to the demise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and paved the way for the three Indochinese states Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to become independent members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). PRIO historian Stein Tønnesson has spent a lifetime studying these wars, with main focus on the establishment of the DRV in the August Revolution of 1945 and the outbreak of the Franco-Vietnamese war in 1946.

In 1980–82, Tønnesson did research at PRIO for his MA thesis on the outbreak of war in 1946. During 1986–91, he wrote his doctoral thesis on the international history of the Vietnamese August Revolution in 1945 (later published in book form by SAGE). He built his work on extensive studies in the French colonial archives, as well as British and US archives and also archives and interviews in Vietnam. His supervisor at the University of Oslo was professor Helge Ø Pharo and at PRIO, Dr Marek Thee. In later publications, he expanded both the geographical scope and the time-frame and led a research project in 1998-2000 on the history and international politics of conflict in the South China Sea. In 2023, Tønnesson is engaged in writing a short introduction in Norwegian to the Vietnam War.

The files from Tønnesson's historical studies have recently been made available to other scholars and the general public as part of the PRIO Archive deposited at the National Archives of Norway. Some files, notably a collection of Vietnamese sources (with English translations), are also available on his website

Access to the archive

The index to the PRIO Archive is found here. Those interested in the Indochina wars will find 47 boxes filed under archive code Fbg, including 30 boxes chronologically ordered for the period 1927–2004 and 17 boxes ordered thematically.

This is just one of a multitude of PRIO research projects documented in the PRIO Archive. The Archive also includes extensive correspondance files as well as records of PRIO's governance over the years since the institute's foundation in 1959, including minutes from the Board and from the staff meeting which for several years was the key decision-making unit at PRIO.

Altogether, the PRIO Archive comprises over 1500 boxes. Most of them are accessible to all users. Less than one-third are placed under some restriction on access, mostly related to privacy. Access may still be possible, but under certain conditions.