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The Keesing collection on music and the Vietnam War

 Collection 0365-SCPA-VNM

The Keesing collection on music and the Vietnam War is one of several collections created by Hugo Keesing, a popular music scholar and former professor at the University of Maryland. This collection contains realia, photographs, books, magazines, clippings, sheet music, and thousands of audio recordings in a variety of formats such as LPs, 45s, cassette tapes, and compact discs. All items were collected by Keesing and his brothers both during the war (1955-1975) and in its aftermath. It also houses Dr. Keesing’s personal research materials and correspondences pertaining to his compilation of a comprehensive Vietnam War song discography and his published CD box set, …Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record, 1961-2008.


  • Majority of material found in 1966-1973 and 1988-2010
  • 1956-2018 and undated

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use, but due to personal information some materials are restricted. Please Contact the Curator for more details. Please note that all individual items are not reflected in this finding aid, in regards to sheet music and recordings. Contact the curator for more information.

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright was not transferred with the donation of the materials; all rights remain with the creators and rights holders.


42.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The Keesing collection on music and the Vietnam War consists of realia, photographs, books, magazines, news clippings, sheet music, thousands of audio recordings in a variety of formats such as LPs, 45s, cassette tapes, and compact discs, as well as Dr. Keesing’s personal research materials. The materials in this collection date from 1956 to 2018, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1966 to 1973 and 1988 to 2010. Items in this collection come from three distinct periods of time: during the Vietnam War, the years following the war with materials pertaining to memorials and organizations for veterans, and research materials collected or generated by Hugo Keesing pertaining to the compilation of a discography of Vietnam War songs and his published CD box-set (with accompanying book), …Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record, 1961-2008.

The majority of the magazines, newspapers, and various clippings are from major publications such as Life, Time, Newsweek, and the Washington Post, and date from during or shortly after the Vietnam War (1960s-1980s). This collection contains several books written about or inspired by the Vietnam War, both fictional and non-fictional works. The majority of the pieces of sheet music date from during the Vietnam War, whereas the recordings date from both during and after the war (refer to the Series 5 description for a detailed explanation as to what constitutes a “Vietnam War song” in terms of this collection). Many of the singles in the recordings series contain marginalia by Dr. Keesing about song themes, lyrics, genre, and vocals, all of which is compiled in a separate database. There are also several items pertaining to various support organizations, memorials, and benefit concerts for Vietnam veterans, especially the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. (also referred to as “The Wall”), the Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Vietnam Veterans History Project. Dr. Keesing’s research materials include auction listings of Vietnam song recordings (both contained in this collection and not yet acquired); drafts, edits, and notes for Next Stop is Vietnam; many versions of and correspondence about the ongoing Vietnam songs discography compilation; and several other items related to his research on music and the Vietnam War.

Biographical / Historical

[See finding aid for the Hugo Keesing collection on popular music and culture for information on Hugo Keesing]

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, lasted from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975. To date, it has been the longest armed conflict in which the United States has been involved. Unlike any other previous war, the Vietnam War saw an unprecedented divide on the home front in terms of support for or protest against U.S. participation. Due to the tension and controversy that spread throughout the country surrounding the war, its effects were still felt long after the U.S. military withdrew all personnel from Vietnam.

[For a comprehensive timeline of the Vietnam War, detailed analyses of Vietnam War songs in various contexts, and more, please visit our website that corresponds with this collection.]

Dr. Keesing taught U.S. soldiers in Vietnam in 1970-1971 as part of his employment at University of Maryland University College, and it was during this time that music and the Vietnam War became one of the focal points for his research and archival work. Many photographs, greeting cards, and other memorabilia from Dr. Keesing’s time in Vietnam are contained within this collection. It was also during this time that he collaborated with his brother Wouter who played a key role in discovering and acquiring several of this collection’s recordings. His brother Frans served a year’s tour in 1967 at Long Binh and several items related to his service, such as photographs and greeting cards, are part of this collection as well.

Subsequently, Keesing has spent the better part of three decades researching the Vietnam War, first as a professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and then as an independent scholar. The aim of his work has been to create as comprehensive of a picture as possible of the impact of the Vietnam War on U.S. soldiers and civilians over a span of fifty years (1961-2008), with music as the central narrator. Through his dedicated efforts, along with the collaborative support from his brothers, Wouter and Frans Keesing, and other scholars such as C. L. Yarbrough and Dr. Lydia Fish of the Vietnam Veterans Oral History and Folklore Project (see for a listing of research related to this collection), Hugo Keesing has compiled a vast collection of music, primary news sources, memorabilia, and more. These materials capture a dearth of perspectives and memorialize significant events that took place during and after the Vietnam War.


This collection has been arranged into six series

  1. Series 1: Realia
  2. Series 2: Print Publications
  3. Series 3: Sheet Music
  4. Series 4: Recordings
  5. Series 5: Research Materials - Discography
  6. Series 6: Research Materials - Next Stop is Vietnam

Custodial History

Gift of Hugo Keesing made on 18 April 2019, including materials acquired by his brother Frans Keesing during his service for the US military in 1967 in Vietnam.

Related Materials

In addition to this collection, the other Keesing materials at Special Collections in the Performing Arts (SCPA) are separated into eleven other collections (see the list below).

An additional finding aid exists to further describe the memorabilia contained within several of the Keesing collections.

The Keesing collection also contains thousands of catalogued books, available for use in the Lowens room. To view the available titles, visit the Libraries' catalog. Using the "type of search" drop-down menu, select "call number" and type "MKEESING" into the word search box. This brings up a multi-page, browse-able list of Keesing Collection books.

Additionally, the following books and CD collections by Dr. Keesing are available for use at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library:

Keesing, Hugo A. Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America's Forgotten War. Bear Family Productions, 2018. 4-CD boxed set and accompanying 159-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 19705.

Keesing, Hugo A. Next Stop is Vietnam: The War on Record. Bear Family Records, 2010. 13-CD boxed set and accompanying 304-page book. Call number: Paged Collections, MCD 12460.

Keesing, Hugo A. Incomplete Bibliography of Pop/Rock Music: Key Word Version. Call number: Reference, ML128.R6 K43 1989.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Semper Fi": An Annotated Index of World War II Era Songs about the United States Marine Corps. 1997. Call number: Paged Collections, ML128.W2 K43 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. Victory Girls: An Incomplete, Annotated Index of World War II Sheet Music Depicting Women in Non-Military Work. 1997. Call number: Reference, ML128.W2 K44 1997.

Keesing, Hugo A. "Youth in Transition: A Content Analysis of Two Decades of Popular Music." 1972. Call number: Lowens Special Collections Room, ML3477 .K44 1972.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

The Keesing collection on music and the Vietnam War
In Progress
Meghan Creek
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States