Guide to the Richard A. Melville papers, 1953-2003, n.d. | MC059

Summary Information

Repository
Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library
Creator
Melville, Richard A., 1932-2005
Title
Richard A. Melville papers
ID
MC059
Date
1953-2003, undated
Extent
4.0 Linear feet
Language
English
Abstract
Richard A. Melville (1932-2005) served in Laos and Cambodia from 1959-1963 as a U.S State Department Foreign Service officer. He later pursued a career in international banking and finance, serving as President and CEO of Allied Bank International in New York and consulting with the United Nations Development Programme in China. He was the principal author of the International Banking Act (1978) and from 1979 to 1998, served as the personal financial advisor to Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. The collection is comprised of correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, press clippings, publications, and typescripts related to his work, as well as his efforts to preserve Cambodian antiquities and his research about the Khting Vor, a mythical bovine thought to inhabit Cambodia and Vietnam which he helped to debunk as a hoax. Of particular interest are several albums of photographs Melville took while a Foreign Service officer of Cambodian hill tribes and hunts and material documenting his long relationship with Norodum Sihanouk as both friend and advisor.

Preferred Citation

Richard A. Melville papers, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College.

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Historical Note

Richard A. Melville was born in September 15, 1932 in Massachusetts. He graduated from Bates College in 1954 and received an M.A. from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University. He married Maria-Angela Garcia-Martinez and had three children, Thomas, Andrew, and Charles.

From 1959 to 1963 Melville served as a U.S State Department Foreign Service officer in Laos and Cambodia. Melville then began a career in international banking, working first for Irving Trust Company and later becoming the President and CEO of Allied Bank International in New York. He was the principal author and a major advocate of the International Banking Act which was passed by Congress in 1978. From 1979 to 1998, he served as the personal financial advisor to Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia. In 1991 to 1998, he operated an investment consulting firm in Hong Kong. He also served as an advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Trade of the People's Republic of China and helped to bring "capitalism with a socialist face" to mainland China.

Many years after living in Cambodia, Melville published "Northeast Forest: Field Notes on the Hilltribes and Fauna of Cambodia, 1959-1962." He was also interested in cryptozoology, the study of legendary, sometimes mythical, animal species, and used his first hand knowledge of Cambodian wildlife to demystify the "khting vor," a purported snake-eating cow residing in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Melville was active in many organizations. As a volunteer with the Asia Society, he fought to protect Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple complex from U.S. bombs during the Vietnam War. From 1976 to 1989, he served as a Trustee of Bates College. At Johns Hopkins, he was a trustee of both the University and the hospital, and served on the advisory council of the School of Advanced International Studies. He also was a trustee of the Tuxedo Park School, president of the board of Round Top Center for the Arts, and president of the Friends of Pemaquid Light. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Economic Club of New York, and the Newcomen Society. He died January 1, 2005 in Bristol, Maine.

Scope and Content Note

The collection is comprised of correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, press clippings, publications, and typescripts related to Melville's work in international relations and finance, his long and multifaceted relationship with Cambodia, and his interest in the Khting Vor, a mythical bovine thought to inhabit Cambodia and Vietnam which he helped to debunk as a hoax. There is material related to Melville's time in the Foreign Service, including several photo albums of his work with the hill tribes and of his hunting trips; many of these images were published by Melville in his 2000 book "A Northeast Forest." The collection also includes material documenting his long relationship with Norodum Sihanouk as both friend and advisor, and material on Melville's work to protect Cambodian antiquities.

The Personal series includes correspondence with family and friends, including many letters about Agora, a proposed literary magazine that never came to fruition. Melville, working with two partners, William Watt and Boylston Adams Hinds, secured the backing of such literary luminaries as Ezra Pound, Louis Mumford, Wallace Fowlie, and Caresse Crosby to serve on the editorial board and contribute articles to this venture. This series also contains documentation of Melville's philanthropic and volunteer endeavors, including his work on the board of Bates College and of The Johns Hopkins University.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is divided into four series: I. Cambodia; II. International relations and finance; III. "Khting Vor"; and IV. Personal papers.

All series are in alphabetical order.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

 Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston, Maine, 04240
207-786-6354
muskie@bates.edu

Access Restrictions

Material in the Personal series may only be consulted with the permission of Carlos Melville. Please contact the Director for additional information.

Confidential memos and resumes in Melville's files on the United Nations Development Programme in China are restricted. Please contact the Director for additional information.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of Richard A. Melville, 2003. Accession No.: 058-03-01.

Processing Information

Initial arrangement by Chris Beam.

Final arrangement and description by Kat Stefko, 2006.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Allied Bank International
  • United Nations Development Programme (China)
  • United States. Foreign Service

Geographic Name(s)

  • Cambodia--Antiquities

Personal Name(s)

  • Melville, Richard A., 1932-2005--Archives
  • Norodom Sihanouk, Prince, 1922-

Subject(s)

  • Banks and banking, International
  • Diplomatic and consular service, American
  • International finance
  • International relations

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Collection Inventory

 MC059/01 Cambodia 1958-1962, 1971-2002, n.d.   1.0 linear foot

Scope and Content Note

Material in this series documents Melville's enduring and multifaceted devotion to Cambodia, particularly his work as a Foreign Service officer of the U. S. State Department, his work with the Asia Society to preserve Angkor Wat and other Cambodian antiquities, and his role as friend and financial advisor to Norodom Sihanouk. The journal Melville kept while living in Cambodia was severely damaged in a house fire and is restricted until 2015.

Organization and Arrangement

Organized into three subseries.

Access Restrictions

The journal Melville kept while living in Cambodia is restricted until 2015.

 MC059/01.01 Foreign Service 1958-1962, n.d.   0.5 Linear feet

Scope and Content Note

This subseries documents Melville's work as an advisor to the U.S. government on the tribes of Cambodia and Laos as a Foreign Service officer of the State Department. Melville was stationed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 1959 to 1963 and spent approximately one year of that period in Laos. His job required frequent travel in northeast Cambodia and northern Laos where he lived among the mountain tribes. He also took numerous hunting trips, typically on elephant-back in these regions. The subseries includes photo albums of the people, places, flora, and animals that he encountered on these trips, as well as State Department correspondence, and social invitations. Some of his photographs and field notes were published in "A Northeast Forest" (2000).

Organization and Arrangement

Alphabetical.

Access Restrictions

The journal Melville kept while living in Cambodia is restricted until 2015.

 MC059/01.02 Sihanouk 1971-2002, n.d.   0.25 Linear feet

Scope and Content Note

This subseries of correspondence, photographs, ephemera, and other material documents Melville's long professional and personal relationship with Norodom Sihanouk. Shihanouk served as the first king of decolonized Cambodia until 1955, when he abdicated to his father in order to run in the independent country's first elections. From 1955 to 1970, he served as prime minister until he was ousted in a coup lead by General Lon Nol. Sihanouk was then recruited by the Khmer Rouge as its titular head. In 1975, after living in exile for 5 years, he returned to Phnom Penh, where Pol Pot, the actual leader of the Khmer Rouge, placed him under house arrest in the Royal Palace. Following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in December 1978 and subsequent ousting of the Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk headed one of three major resistance groups to the Vietnamese-backed Phnom Penh government. When these three groups merged in 1981, Sihanouk became president of the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia. Sihanouk's coalition was recognized by much of the international community as the rightful government of Cambodia and, as such, occupied a seat at the United Nations. However, the Phnom Penh government effectively controlled the country. Sihanouk began peace talks with this government in 1987, and a formal ceasefire followed in 1991 with the Paris Peace Agreements. Sihanouk was then named chairman of the Supreme National Council which served as an interim government until official elections were held in May 1993. Sihanouk was then reinstated as King of Cambodia.

Melville, on behalf of the Asia Society, was instrumental in bringing Cambodian Prime Minister Sirik Matak to the United States in 1971. This visit was widely publicized in the Cambodian press, and brought Melville's name to the attention of Sihanouk. When Sihanouk came to the United States for the first time in February 1980 to plead for international assistance for Cambodia, he insisted on meeting Melville. There began a long relationship as friend and advisor to Sihanouk. The collection includes extensive correspondence between Melville and Sihanouk, much of which is in French. The subseries also contains many photographs, including several of Melville and his wife being received as the first foreign guests at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh upon Sihanouk's return in 1991.

Organization and Arrangement

Alphabetical.

 MC059/01.03 Cultural preservation efforts 1970-2002, n.d.   0.25 Linear feet

Scope and Content Note

This series includes correspondence, typescripts, photographs, and ephemera documenting Richard Melville's varied efforts to preserve and protect Cambodian antiquities during the country's complex existence in the late 20th century. Melville played a particularly important role in protecting the Angkor Wat temple complex from U.S. bombing during the Vietnam War. The subseries includes a final version and various drafts of Melville's "Angkor: A Progress Report," published in 1971 by the Asia Society and based upon his firsthand observations during a trip to Cambodia, which called attention to this need. Also included is extensive correspondence with the Asia Society.

Organization and Arrangement

Alphabetical.

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 MC059/02 International relations and finance 1964-1999, n.d.   2.0 Linear feet

Scope and Content Note

This series documents Melville's work in international relations and finance as both a banking executive and consultant. There is significant information about Melville's 13-year career at Allied Bank International, from his appointment as a Vice President in 1970 to his departure as President and Chief Executive Officer in 1983 following the collapse of several large loans to Latin American countries. Of significant note is material, including correspondence and photographs, related to the first visit to the United States by the Chairman of the Bank of China, Pu Ming, in 1980. At this time, the Bank of China was the only authorized bank to do foreign business with the United States, and Allied Bank International its only United States correspondent bank. The visit is significant because it marked the opening of US-China trade relations on a large scale. There is also material related to Melville's participation as an Allied Bank delegate to China in 1972 and 1980, which preceded Pu Ming's visit.

The series includes material documenting Melville's work at Melville Associates. Most notably are several files, including correspondence, reports, clippings and other material, documenting Melville's role as Senior International Advisor to the United Nation Development Programme's $6 million dollar project to help large and medium-sized Chinese state-owned businesses transition from a command to a free-market economy. The series also includes a small amount of material related to Melville's work at Irving Trust Company, Philadelphia International Bank, and Train, Smith Counsel. Also included is material related to Melville's work on and advocacy for the International Banking Act of 1978, including the transcript of his testimony before Congress. This act greatly expanded the capability of foreign banks to do business in the United States.

Organization and Arrangement

Alphabetical.

Access Restrictions

The confidential memos and resumes found in Melville's files on the United Nations Development Programme are restricted. Please consult the Director for additional information.

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 MC059/03 "Khting Vor" 1966-2003, n.d.   0.5 Linear feet

Scope and Content Note

This series documents Melville's research and writing about the Khting Vor, a snake-eating bovine purported to inhabit Cambodia and Vietnam, which Melville helped to debunk as a hoax. The series includes correspondence with many prominent wildlife experts including Arnoult Seveau, Robert Timm, Hunter Weiler, and Colin Poole; typescripts of Melville's article on the Khting Vor which was published in the Journal of Zoology of London; and Melville's research notes, including many related to his extensive study of the work of Harold Jefferson Coolidge, Jr. conducted at Harvard.

Organization and Arrangement

Alphabetical.

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 MC059/04 Personal papers 1953-2003   1.0 linear foot

Scope and Content Note

This series documents Melville's philanthropic and volunteer work, as well as aspects of his personal life. There is documentation about his membership on the board of Bates College and of The Johns Hopkins University and his role as donor to and Advisory Council member of the School for Advanced International Studies. The series also includes personal correspondence with family and friends, including a significant number of letters with June Allan and William Watt about Agora, a proposed literary magazine that never came to fruition. Watt, along with Melville and Boylston Adams Hinds, had convinced Ezra Pound, Louis Mumford, Wallace Fowlie, and Caresse Crosby to serve on the editorial board and contribute articles.

Personal correspondence related to Agora magazine and family letters from the 1950s were severely damaged in a house fire and are restricted until 2015. For material related to Melville's volunteer work with the Asia Society, See the Cultural Preservation subseries of the Cambodia series.

Organization and Arrangement

Alphabetical.

Access Restrictions

Material in this series may only be consulted with the permission of Carlos Melville. For more information, please consult the Director.

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