Registration open for SEALG Conference and Annual General Meeting, Marseille, 15-16 June 2023

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The SEALG Conference and Annual General Meeting taking place in Marseille on 15-16 June 2023 is approaching fast. Attendance of the event is free, but registration is required and can be completed in a few quick steps online on the SEALG website.

Provisional Program of the Conference and Annual General Meeting

Venue: Maison Asie Pacifique, Aix-Marseille Université, 3, place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseille Cedex
8:30 Welcoming participants
9:00 Round table: Recent information and libraries activities 2022-2023
10:00 Coffee break
10:15 Annual General Meeting
12:00 Lunch
14:00 Paper presentations and discussion
15:30 Coffee break
17:00 End of day 1

FRIDAY, 16 June
Venue: Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer 29, Chemin du Moulin de Testas, CS 50062, 13182 AIX-EN- PROVENCE Cedex 5
8:45 Bus transfer from Marseille to Aix-en-Provence
9:30 Visiting the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer (Aix-en-Provence), Southeast Asian Collections
11:00 Bus and train to the Blue Coast for lunch at a meridional restaurant
14:00 Round table discussion: SEA librarianship in the digital age
16:00 Opportunity for a walk in the Calanques at the Blue Coast

“We Published in Prison” – Unique Material on Newspapers Published by Male Civilian Internees in Wartime Singapore

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By Gautam Hazarika, Singapore

Background – a largely untold story

When Britain surrendered Singapore to Japan on February 15, 1942, besides the 90,000 POWs, 1,3791 civilians were also interned. They were mainly colonial bureaucrats, businessmen, doctors etc, and included 182 women and children. Their numbers rose to 2,822 as recorded on June 3, 19422 and over 3,000 later during the war. Their experience was very different from that of the POWs – the POWs were young and healthy, the civilians were not. The POWs knew they could become prisoners, the civilians did not expect this. The POWs continued to live as before, split into officers and other ranks, while the civilians were thrown together – senior colonial officials and civilians, junior civilians and young merchant seaman closely packed into an overcrowded prison. Many also endured the agony of having wives and children just around the corner, but were segregated and therefore could not meet.

Many of the more numerous POWs published memoirs in the mainstream press, but only a handful of civilians did, many through non-mainstream press and most are out of print (Annexure 1).  Also, historians focussed more on the POWs, perhaps as the focus on the military was more appealing3. Hence very little is known about the civilians.

NEWS! Cartoon from KL 1949 edition, perhaps portraying an editor at work

An amazing archive in Cambridge about this untold story

The male civilians published an almost daily newspaper (310 issues over 18 months) from Feb 1942 to Oct 1943. The newspapers were called Karikal Chronicles, from Karikal Mahal where some were first interned, and Changi Guardian once they all moved there. They also published the Changi Chimes on Sundays for a few months. It is difficult to find a complete run of anything even recent, but The Royal Commonwealth Society has a complete run of these newspapers, as incredible wartime survival. They are available online at Cambridge. The papers are an astonishing record of their daily life and can also be used to imagine the life of the POWs for the many aspects that they shared – lack of food and news, how they entertained themselves etc. They also contain unique historical accounts (Personal Recollections) of the war so far, written by people who did not survive, or did not publish when liberated. There are 26 such recollections, covering the War in Pahang, Kelantan, etc. and various aspects of the War in Singapore. The authors include former residents and other civil servants. There appears to be no book / article on the men’s newspapers and even the Cambridge archive seems little known outside academic circles.

Unique original material in the author’s possession adding more to this untold story

The editors of these papers were mainly Harry Miller and Gus Harold Wade of the Straits Times4. There are references to three volume collections of the newspapers with Mr Miller and the IWM5. The impression is that these were collections of the actual newspapers. However, the collection I acquired in 2022 show that besides publishing the papers, the editors retyped the content (perhaps to ensure their survival) while in Changi prison, in 1942, adding title pages with a summary history, that are not in the original newspapers. This retyped collection by the editors is called “We Published in Prison”. The Changi 1942 editions in my collection only has the Karikal Chronicles and First 100 Changi Guardians, interspersed with the Sunday Changi Chimes as they were issued. This covers the newspapers till August 2, 1942. Whether more newspapers were retyped into such volumes in Changi is not known. As the war progressed, paper became even more scarce and the frequency of publishing reduced. Certainly, after Double Tenth, no such collections could have been made, as even the newspapers were stopped (see below). Also, while they could, how many such editions were made is unknown – at best there would have been a handful, and in fact the one I have acquired may be the only one.

Title page of “We Published in Prison”, 1942

A second edition of “We Published in Prison” was “Retyped Kuala Lumpur March 1949”. This was a 3-volume set covering the entire run of newspapers and included original cartoons and sketches. The 3-volume sets referred to above are probably this 3-volume edition. How many of these were made is not clear. The auction listing says my set probably belonged to one of the publishers. However, the seller of the collection said he had bought it over 40 years ago6, so perhaps in the early 1980s. Since Mr Miller had his set with him when he came to Singapore in 1993, my collection could not have been his. Perhaps Mr Miller’s set was donated to the IWM after his death, or the two sets could be different. Therefore, this 2nd edition had a run of at least 2 copies – Miller’s and mine.

“HUDSON’S BAY” Changi Prison, D.J. Kibby, Aug 42

The collection consists of four books titled “We Published in Prison” (see image below).

  • Book 1 produced in Changi 1942 has the Karikal Chronicles, stating it was the 1st volume of newspapers published. This uses thick official paper with the British crest embossed on top. It is slightly smaller than A4 size and the pages were stapled together, as seen by the three staple holes at the top of each page.  It is bound in burgundy coloured buckram, that must have been added later as both stapling and binding would not have been done together.
  • Book 2 was also produced in Changi 1942. It contains Volume 2 of the newspapers (in continuation with Volume 1 above) and contains the first 50 Changi Guardians. It also has Volume 3, with Nos 51-100. They also contain the Sunday Changi Chimes interspersed date-wise. This book uses thin paper like the old cyclostyles, of varying width and length. It is slightly taller than A4 size, bound in beige board with a dark brown leather strip on the left. There are no staples here and as it encloses two volumes, it was probably bound later.
  • Books 3 and 4 are Volumes 2 and 3 of what is stated as a 3-volume KL edition. As the missing first KL volume exactly coincides with the two books produced in Changi 1942, taken together the collection is a complete set of all the newspapers (barring one issue on which there is an interesting story, see note 7) plus the title pages/ sketch/ map/ cartoons not held in Cambridge. These are uniformly bound in grey buckram and on the inner front covers have the label “Bound by CAXTON PRESS LTD, Printers, Stationers and Book-Binders, Kuala Lumpur”
Four bound volumes of “We Published in Prison” in reasonably good condition

Here is a photograph featuring Mr Miller, Mr Wade, Mr Wilson (co-publisher for just 2 issues), Mr Peet (author of one of 20 books by internees) and Dorothy Miller (Mrs Harry Miller).

Bottom row: Dorothy Miller, George Peet, Middle W.A.Wilson, Top Row Harry Miller and Guy Wade

Double Tenth and the last Changi Guardian

Changi Guardian No 262 came out on Tuesday October 12, 1943. It is very innocuous and the only reference to something going on was to thank the kitchen staff for providing late meals on Sunday (hence October 10) after the end of the sudden, day-long interrogation that was Double Tenth. As is well known, after Operation Jaywick blew up merchant ships in Singapore harbour on September 27, 1943, the Japanese suspected that the civilians were the ringleaders. Their life changed abruptly from October 10, 1943. Besides numerous others in Singapore, 58 of the civilian internees were taken by the Kempetai for interrogation of whom 14 died. Another consequence was that there were no more Changi Guardians. In May 1944, the civilians were moved to the former RAF Camp at Sime Road to make place for returning POWs from the Burma railway. They remained there till the end of the war.

Researching the Civilians and the newspapers – giving their story a fresh look

  1. The biggest source are the newspapers themselves, approximately over one thousand A4 typewritten pages. Topics like food (or the lack of it), overcrowding, sports, Changi University, plays and concerts, the lack of war and family news, Personal Recollections, the editors and/or the publishing process could fill a research article or book chapter each.
  2. For further research, Mr Peng Han Lim’s article on primary sources on Civilian internees in Singapore is a key starting point. Besides published books, it includes partial lists of unpublished diaries, oral histories in Singapore and the UK. There are additional sources in the Singapore National Archive (online) and at the IWM and other UK institutions.
  3. So far, I have come across only twenty books by the internees (ANNEXURE 1). Just three were published soon after the war, a fourth in 1969, a fifth in 1979 and 15 more thereafter, the last in 2009. Perhaps they did not want to dwell on the past and many were published after their death, edited by relatives. Each of the books fortunately tells us a different part of the story – Kitching’s diary was written while in the camp and he died of cancer, so what is published is exactly what he wrote at that time. Peet’s memoirs written while at Sime Road has an analysis of the internees situation and basically says the Japanese treated them quite fairly. Thompson’s book gives us details of the Feb 17, 1942 march from the Padang, the organisation of the camps. Another difference in the books is the point of view – Hayter and McNamara tell the story as priests, Mary Thomas as a nurse from the UK not steeped in the colonial way of life, Sheila Allan as a rare Eurasian internee, Ann Dally as a doctor, Rudy Mosbergen and Thomas Ryan as teenagers, Ethel Mulvaney as a person who suffered mental ill-health, Freddy Bloom is of interest as the publisher of POW-WOW, the women’s newspaper.
  4. Books by historians Dr Archer3, Joseph Kennedy and an article on POW-WOW, the newspaper of the women’s camp8, contain various additional references.
  5. The newspapers name over 100 people – author and historian Jonanthan Moffat has a vast archive of biographical information on most of the internees, so these named people can be profiled and studied. Besides this, there are online references (for example Straits Times) to many of these persons, including interviews, significant news, obituaries etc.
  6. Mapping a) the original camps at Joo Chiat Police Stations/ Women in two houses in Katong/ Karikal Mahal and the adjacent Roman Catholic Convent1, and b) Analysis of the three maps mentioned by Mr Peng Han Lim and the fourth map and a courtyard sketch in my collection to draw a composite picture of Changi.
  7. A few internees are still alive – if they are willing and able, an attempt could be made to meet them.

Author’s note: I am a just a collector interested in the historical context of my collection, not a professional historian or researcher. I would welcome any guidance, introductions and references to other sources to assist in doing my research better, so the civilians’ story can be told afresh and with new sources.


1 Changi Guardian No 71, June 3, 1942

2 Ibid.

    3 Why less on civilians: The Internment of Western Civilians under the Japanese 1941-1945 by Bernice Archer, p.8

    4 Gus and not Guy Wade: Archer p.105, Dateline Singapore :  150 years of The Straits Times by C.M.Turnbull, p.72, identify the co-publisher as Guy Wade. The author/ historian Jonathan Moffat provided me with a Red Cross card that not only confirmed he was Gus, but that there was a Guy Wade, but he was someone else (when Gus’s family was queried about another Guy Wade, they confirmed this Guy Wade was not their Gus) https://gallery.its.unimelb.edu.au/imu/imu.php?request=multimedia&irn=82089

    5 References to a 3-volume set of these newspapers – Straits Times 1993 article (ref. 8 below), Dateline Singapore:  150 years of The Straits Times by C.M. Turnbull, p. 121 note 6, email from Dr Bernice Archer October 2, 2022

    6 Auction Seller email dated 27 January, 2023

    7 The Karikal Chronicles were published in Feb-March 1942 and the retypes in my collection were made just a few weeks/months later in 1942. My collection ends at Karikal No 13, however there are references to 14 Karikal Chronicles in Dateline Singapore. Since my collection was retyped a few weeks later in 1942 by the editors, surely they could not have left the 14th out? Also, Karikal 13 was published on March 5, 1942 and they all moved to Changi on March 6 morning, so would not have had time to issue one that day. Hence, I thought there were only 13 issues. However, the Cambridge archive showed that there was a 14th. What happened was this – Karikal 13 came out on March 5 (probably in the morning). Later that day they were told they were moving to Changi the next morning, so later that day they brought out a short half page newspaper with instructions for the move to Changi. Handwritten on top is “Special Edition” and Karikal Chronicles 14”. Why it was left out in the “We Published in Prison” remains a mystery.

    8 New perspectives on the Japanese occupation in Malaya and Singapore, 1941-1945 / edited by Akashi Yoji and Yoshimura Mako, 2008; The civilian women’s internment camp in Singapore: the world of POW WOW by Michiko Nakahara.

    ANNEXURE 1 – Books by Civilian Internees – divided into those by men/women as done by Mr Peng Han Lim, with some additions by Gautam Hazarika

    Books by men interned

    1. EP HODKIN: If this Could Be Farewell. Freemantle Arts Centre Press, 2003
    2. GEORGE PEET: Within Changis Walls. Marshall Cavendish International Asia, 2001
    3. THOMAS KITCHING: Life and Death in Changi. Bretchin Tales Shop Ltd, 1998; republished Landmark Books Pte Ltd, 2018
    4. ANTHONY McNAMARA: I was in prison. Self-published, 1994
    5. G.E.D. LEWIN: Out East in the Malay Peninsula. Penerbit Fajar Bakti, Malaysia, 1991; Oxford, 1992
    6. JOHN HAYTER: Priest in Prison. Churchman, 1989; Thornhil, 1991; Graham Brash Pte Ltd, 1991
    7. TYLER THOMPSON: Freedom in Internment Under Japanese Rule in Singapore 1942-1945. Kelford Press Pte Ltd (Singapore), 1990?
    8. T.P.M. LEWIS: Changi, the lost years : a Malayan diary, 1941-1945. Malaysian Historical Society, 1989
    9. VAN CUYLENBERG: Singapore: through sunshine and shadow. Heineman Asia, 1982
    10. EJH CORNER: The Marquis, a tale of Syonan-to. Heineman Asia, 1981
    11. TAN SRI DATO MUBIN SHEPPARD: Taman budiman:  memoirs of an unorthodox civil servant. Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Educational Books (Asia), 1979
    12. C.C. BROWN: Mural ditties and Sime Road soliloquies; illustrated by R.W.E. Harper. Singapore: Kelly and Walsh, [1948]
    13. HOBART B. AMSTUTZ: Prison camp ministries :  the personal narrative of Hobart B. Amstutz, 17 February 1942 to 7 September, 1945. Singapore :  Wesley Manse,  1945

    Books by women/girls interned

    1. MARY THOMAS: In the Shadow of the Rising Sun. Singapore Marshall Cavendish, 2009
    2. RUDY MOSBERGEN: In the Grip of a Crisis: The Experiences of a Teenager during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, 1942-45. Singapore Seng City, 2007
    3. SHEILA ALLAN: Diary of a Girl in Changi. Simon and Schuster (Australia), 1994 (a rare account of a Eurasian internee)
    4. LAVINIA WARNER and JOHN SANDILANDS: Women beyond the wire :  a story of prisoners of the Japanese, 1942-1945. Michael Joseph, 1982
    5. FREDDY BLOOM: Dear Philip. Bodley Head, 1980 (in addition to a book on her husband, a POW: Destined Meeting by Leslie Bell, published by Odhams Press ,1958)
    6. ANN DALLY: Cicely: The Story of a Doctor. Published Gollancz, 1968
    7. IRIS PARFITT: Jailbird Jottings. Kuala Lumpur, 1947

    Books on women/children by others

    1. THOMAS RYAN: A Child Prisoner of War – An account by his son Christopher. Hakawati Press (Scotland), 2021
    2. SUZANNE EVANS: Taste of Longing, The Ethel Mulvany and her Starving Prisoners of War Cookbook. Between the Lines, 2020
    3. No Longer Silent, World-Wide Memories of the Children of World War II. Pictorial Histories Publication Co., 1995

    SEALG Annual Meeting 2023 in Marseille

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    This year’s Annual Meeting of SEALG will take place at Maison Asie-Pacifique in the sunny city of Marseille, France, on Thursday 15 June and Friday 16 June 2023.
    The two-day event will begin with a round table on recent library activities and the annual general meeting on Thursday morning, followed by a panel session for the presentation of selected papers on library and archive related topics and collections in the afternoon.

    On Friday morning we will visit the Archives d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence to see a selection of their materials related to Southeast Asia. In the afternoon, we are planning a thematic round table to allow time for follow-up discussions on the topics of the panel session. After the round table, we will have time for networking while going for a walk along the stunning blue bays of Marseille’s Calanques national park. For those who wish to extend their stay: the region offers ample opportunity for various kinds of activities and outings.
    All members of SEALG and guests are most welcome to attend this in-person event and participation will not be restricted to library or archive staff.

    In preparation of the panel session on 15 June 2023 SEALG invites proposals for papers on three themes to choose from:

    • collections, archives and library work as well as recent developments in the field of
      South East Asian Studies
    • acquisition, storage and access of born digital material
    • contested heritage and providing access to heritage communities

    A paper presentation should not exceed 30 minutes (including time for questions/discussion). Paper abstracts should be no more than 200 words and must include a title, author’s name and affiliation, as well as contact details. We encourage submissions from library and archive staff as well as from scholars and graduate students. The deadline for paper proposals is 31 May 2023. Publication of a paper will be possible in the SEALG Newsletter. For submission of your paper proposal / abstract, registration and further information please contact Christophe Caudron (christophe.caudronATuniv-amu.fr) or Marije Plomp (m.plompATlibrary.leidenuniv.nl).

    Photo impressions from a former SEALG annual meeting in Marseille

    Recently completed ‘Endangered Archives Programme’ projects in Southeast Asia

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    Since 2004, the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) has helped to preserve cultural heritage and to make it available globally to as wide an audience as possible. To achieve this, grants are provided to digitise and document archives that are at risk of loss or decay, and which are located in countries where resources and opportunities to preserve such material are lacking or limited. ‘Archives’ refers to materials in written, pictorial or audio formats, including manuscripts, rare printed books, documents, newspapers, periodicals, photographs and sound recordings. The material can date from any time before the middle of the twentieth century, though archives that cross over to some extent into the second half of the twentieth century may be accepted if the majority of the material is earlier. One of the key principles is that the original material remains in the country in which it is located. EAP projects create digital material in a format that facilitates long-term preservation, and at least two copies of these are stored: a primary copy that remains at an appropriate repository in the country of origin, and a secondary copy held at the British Library and made available freely on the EAP website. Thanks to generous funding from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, EAP has provided grants to several hundred projects in over ninety countries worldwide, in more than a hundred languages and scripts. In this blog post, we introduce six recently completed EAP projects in Southeast Asian countries that provide access to manuscripts and archival materials relevant to research in the field of Southeast Asian Studies.

    Identifying and Digitising Eastern Salient Manuscripts of Java (EAP1334)

    The project identified and digitised 97 Eastern Salient manuscripts of Java, in 24 collections located in Banyuwangi, Jember, Bondowoso, Situbondo, and Lumajang. They are written in Arabic, Perso-Arabic, Carakan, and Javanese scripts. Data on the contents, subjects, custodial history and original location of the manuscripts were recorded. In many cases, also biographical data of the manuscripts collectors or owners were added to the item descriptions. The contents of these manuscripts cover aspects of pesantren (Islamic boarding schools), religion, history, culture, metaphysics, etc. Due to the vulnerability of the manuscripts, they were digitised by being photographed on location. This project was carried out by Mrs Wiwin Indiarti in collaboration with Universitas PGRI Banyuwangi and Library of Universitas PGRI Banyuwangi. For this pilot project, a grant of £12,795 was awarded in 2021. The digitised manuscripts and a short promotional film can be accessed on the EAP1334 project page.

    EAP1334 Digitisation training, November 2021

    Personal Manuscripts on the Periphery of Javanese Literature: A Survey and Digitisation of Private Collections from the Javanese North Coast, its Sundanese Hinterlands and the Fringes of Court (EAP1268)

    In this project 399 items in 22 collections were digitised. These materials highlight the periphery of Javanese and Sundanese literature and provide insights into the more personal sides of Javanese and Sundanese writing. They cover tales written by scribes residing near shrines, administrative handbooks, notebooks and recipe books scribbled by commoners and works produced by courtiers on their own behalf without apparent patronage from nobles or sovereigns. Their vernacular provenance increases their obscurity and simultaneously limits their preservation due to a lack of patrons. This project was carried out by Mr Simon Carlos Kemper in cooperation with University Gadjah Mada and MAIS archival systems Indonesia. For this pilot project, a grant of £15,057 was awarded in 2019. The digitised manuscripts can be accessed on the EAP1268 project page.

    Survey, Preservation and Digitisation of Palm-leaf Manuscripts (lontar) in Private Collections of Bali and Lombok. (EAP1241)

    The main outcome of this project has been the digitisation and cataloguing of about 100 lontar manuscripts of the private collection of Balinese man of letters Ida Dewa Gede Catra, which until 2021 were stored in the premises of the Museum Pustaka Lontar Dukuh Penaban (Karangasem, East Bali, Indonesia). The project has also surveyed nine private collections of manuscripts in Bali and five collections in Lombok, gathering information about the extent, history, and state of the material, and putting into effect basic conservation interventions on the manuscripts. 29 manuscripts from the Balinese collections and seven manuscripts from the collections in Lombok were digitised and catalogued. A significant achievement of the project has been in the domain of knowledge-transfer, through the training of a team in Bali that is now able to work independently on the identification, preservation, cataloguing, digitisation and permanent digital storage and retrieval of palm-leaf lontar manuscripts. Equally importantly, this project has contributed to raise the awareness among the owners of manuscripts as well as the general population in Bali and Lombok about the importance of this fragile heritage that forms an important part of the literary and cultural life of Bali and Lombok, and about the need to not only preserve it, but also make it more accessible to interested parties both locally, nationally, and worldwide. This project was carried out by Dr Andrea Acri together with the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), PSL University and National Library of Indonesia. For this pilot project, a grant of £14,000 was awarded in 2019. The digitised manuscripts can be accessed on the EAP1241 project page.

    EAP1241 Inspecting manuscripts in Karangasem

    Survey of Lao Manuscripts in Vientiane and two neighbouring provinces (EAP1319)

    The project surveyed the manuscript holdings of 166 temples within Vientiane using data from previous surveys as a baseline to investigate changes. As anticipated based on prior isolated inspections, the project confirmed that significant manuscript losses had taken place over the past 20-35 years (depending upon the date of the previous surveys). The overall findings show that out of total of 21,383 manuscripts based on previous survey records, only 12,457 remain in 2022, i.e. the number of manuscripts lost is 9,179 or 42.93% of the expected total. The overarching reason for this very significant loss are lack of care, compounded by termites, rain damage, fire, etc. This project highlighted the need to reconsider existing policies and practices for manuscript preservation in Laos. In addition to a detailed comparison of previous records with current holdings, the project also built on the basic manuscript catalogue data to include information at the repository level, conservation data, records of microfilming or digitisation, contact details of resource persons for the production and use of manuscripts, a photographic record of conditions before and after preservation work, and causes of manuscript loss. The resulting database provides the foundation for a comprehensive ‘national database of Lao manuscript cultures’ to be used as a tool for future preservation, digitisation, and research efforts. A sample of 28 manuscripts from four locations were digitised during the survey project, with dates from 1770 to 1973. This project was carried out by Dr David Wharton in collaboration with the National Library of Laos. For this major project, a grant of £55,070 was awarded in 2021. The surveys and 28 digitised manuscripts can be accessed on the EAP1319 project page.

    EAP1319 Manuscript survey in Vat That Khao temple, Vientiane, Laos

    Digital Library of the Lanten Textual Heritage – Phase II (EAP1126)

    This project continued the digital preservation of manuscripts of the Lanten ethnic group in North Laos that began in a previous EAP project (EAP791). The follow-up project identified a larger number of manuscripts than the ones initially listed to be preserved; it also discovered seriously threatening conditions. The targeted manuscripts contain the information enabling shamans and priests to engage Daoist Deities in the rituals that ensure the continuity of the Lanten society’s socio-cosmological order. The depletion of this corpus following the political and economic turmoil after the Indochina War and the establishment of the centralised socialist Lao State have been affecting the social foundations of this society. This project, which was carried out by Dr Helene Basu in cooperation with Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster and the National Library of Laos, catalogued and digitised 1352 manuscripts in 44 collections. For this phase-II project, a grant of £27,500 was awarded in 2018, and the digitised manuscripts are accessible via EAP1126 project page.

    EAP1126 Manuscript owner in Luang Namtha, Laos

    Recalling a Translocal Past: Digitising Thai-Mon palm-leaf manuscripts (EAP1123)

    The Mon people of Thailand and Burma were regional cultural and religious intermediaries and supported a palm leaf manuscript tradition into the 1920s. Although there are important collections of such manuscripts in Thailand, no official Thai body has ever digitised these manuscripts. Among them are texts unknown in Burma, which are key to understanding recent history and the Mon role in intellectual history. The collections have been exposed to various hazards, like vermin and flooding. Disinterest has also led to damage and loss. Today, young Thai people with Mon ancestry are interested in their heritage and the need to preserve these collections became urgent. Over the course of two months (January to March 2019), the research team gathered the names of some 28 Mon temples/collections in and around Bangkok. This was done by word of mouth from the initial temples visited and through conversations with local experts. Of the 28 temples, a total of 25 were visited; the remaining three were far away from Bangkok in places like Chiang Mai, some 400 miles north. Six temples did not have, or no longer had, Mon-language manuscripts. A survey was produced and 48 manuscripts in six collections were digitised. This project was carried out by Dr Patrick McCormick in collaboration with SEA Junction (Southeast Asia Junction) and Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Centre. For this pilot project, a grant of £11,463 was awarded in 2018. The catalogued records and digitised manuscripts can be accessed on the EAP1123 project page. A major follow-up project “Recalling a trans-local past: digitising Mon palm-leaf manuscripts of Thailand. Part 2 (EAP1432)” is currently underway.

    The Endangered Archives Programme continues to offer approximately 30 grants each year to enable researchers to identify and preserve culturally important archives through digitisation. Applications open usually in September every year. The website also offers free access to useful resources and guides to assist with applications and the methodology of successfully carrying out digitisation projects. An immersive yet informative video (14 min) on the important work carried out in projects of the Endangered Archives Programme is available on the EAP blog.

    New issue of SEALG Newsletter published

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    A new issue of the SEALG Newsletter (December 2022) has been published and is now available online.

    Included in the Newsletter is the report of our group’s Annual Meeting that took place in Paris on 1 July 2022, in collaboration with the 12th EuroSEAS Conference. In addition to this detailed report by Marije Plomp and Jana Igunma, the latest issue of the Newsletter contains the following articles:

    • Laos Cultural Vignettes in the British Library’s Philatelic Collections by Richard Scott Morel (The British Library)
    • Talipot and Ceremonial Fans in Thai Manuscript Art by Jana Igunma (The British Library)
    • The Current Status of Cataloging Southeast Asian Language Materials at CORMOSEA Consortium of Research Libraries in the Unites States by Virginia Shih (South/Southeast Asia Library, University of California, Berkeley) and Zoë McLaughlin (South/Southeast Asia Librarian, Michigan State University)
    • Malay Comic Books from the 1950s and 1960s in the British Library by Annabel Teh Gallop (The British Library)

    Finally, included is also a report of a Laboratory on “Lao Collections in the Digital Age: Libraries, Archives, Museums” held at the 7th International Conference on Lao Studies, 15-18 November 2022.

    Previous issues of the Newsletter in electronic format are also available on the SEALG homepage.

    SEALG Annual Meeting and Panel at the EuroSEAS Conference, Paris 2022

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    The SEALG Annual Meeting 2022 took place in Paris in collaboration with the 12th EuroSEAS Conference, 28 June to 1 July 2022. On this occasion, our group organised a conference panel with the title Southeast Asia Libraries between Open Science, heritage collections and ethical standards of custodianship, which was held on 1 July as part of the EuroSEAS Conference. The Annual General Meeting took place on the same day, following the panel presentations, at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), on the new Campus Condorcet, Paris-Aubervilliers.

    The program on 1 July started with the SEALG panel which was chaired by Marije Plomp (Leiden University Libraries) and Jana Igunma (British Library). The theme of the panel was inspired by the fact that the foundations of European libraries holding Southeast Asian heritage collections are rooted mainly in the colonial enterprise. Both the collections and the accumulated knowledge about them bear the stamp of the values and beliefs of the European, nineteenth and early twentieth century collectors and scholars, whose assignments were inextricably bound up with the mission of the colonial state. Post-colonial voices from both academia and the broader society have exposed how some of these values have continued to influence the way European libraries manage, describe and present heritage material. As a result, some of these institutions have begun to critically investigate the make-up and provenance of their colonial collections, as well as the manner in which the collections are being managed. These endeavors have given rise foremost to policies directed at bridging the physical distance between heritage collections and the various stakeholders in Southeast Asia. Most libraries have begun taking measures to facilitate access to the collections and academic output through, for example, digitisation and digital collections, Open Access institutional repositories, research scholarships and facilities, and online catalogue tutorials, seminars and Open Access e-publications promoting the collections.

    The panel explored these and other practices that can be taken up by libraries aimed at reducing inequalities related to access to heritage collections and knowledge production, next to other topics related to ethical custodianship. Topics for discussion included aspects of supporting Open Science and Open Access; opening up the collections for everyone, not just academia; providing free access to primary and secondary sources, independently from language/script, place of publication, peer-review, and format of publication; improving discoverability of material in non-European languages; critical re-evaluation of the language, scripts and standards used for cataloguing; heritage collection crowd sourcing projects; (re)discovery of collections; provenance research and acquisition transparency in the context of data protection and privacy legislation; optimization of the digitization process and projects; ethical issues arising from digitisation.

    During two sessions, which were attended not only by librarians but also scholars and researchers, six papers were presented.

    The first session was opened by Marije Plomp (Asian Library, Leiden University Libraries) with her presentation on “Bridging the gap: Managing colonial heritage collections, best practices and opportunities at the Asian Library”. With the transfer of the KIT and KITLV collections related to the former Dutch East Indies/Indonesia to Leiden University Libraries in 2013-14, the library’s Indonesia collection became the second largest in the world. A notable part consists of heritage material that was collected during the colonial period. In the last five years in particular, post-colonial voices from both academia and the broader society have called upon institutions holding colonial collections to critically assess their collections and the manner in which they manage them. Leiden University Libraries reacted with measures directed at bridging the physical gap between heritage collections and the various stakeholders in Indonesia. Marije discussed these measures in her presentation, as well as other actions directed more generally at accommodating Indonesian user groups and stakeholders in the library. Besides this, she looked into the best practices of other institutions that could perhaps be implemented at Leiden University Libraries.

    The second presenter was Awang Azman Awang Pawi from the Academy of Malay Studies, University of Malaya Kuala Lumpur, with his paper “From Malay to Malaysiana: Collection between Access and Preservation”. Since the establishment of University of   Malaya (UML) of Kuala Lumpur’s campus in 1959, UML has been developing a collection of publications known as Malaysiana, which are technically defined as material about Malaysia published locally or overseas. The nucleus of the collection itself was inherited from a British colonial who initiated the field of Malay Studies at the UML in Singapore 1953. UML possesses a unique Malaysiana collection with research potential, however, in general the information about it is still superficial. Awang Azman Awang Pawi discussed the accessibility of the Malaysiana collection, as well as the preservation of the collection in the context of the Open Science concept. UML has started several digital initiatives to improve access to the collection for its users, alongside the library’s obligation to preserve this heritage collection. There is also a need for metadata and information enhancements of the materials in the collection to promote research and to encourage researchers from around the world to use this unique source.

    The next speaker was Taufiq Hanafi, a researcher at the Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) and the Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden University, with his presentation “The Irony of Abundance: Open Science, Copious Resources, and yet Low Research Output”. According to recent research, with relatively low per-capita GDP, underdeveloped electronic text markets, and rapidly growing student population, Indonesia belongs to top users and largest downloaders of shadow libraries. It ranks second in the use of Library Genesis via the B mirror – after Russia – and becomes a major traffic source for data transactions. In addition, other channels for Open Science and data dissemination, such as the official mailing list group for Indonesia’s largest scholarship program LPDP and accompanying social media accounts, have a strong archival function and consistently address the lack of access to digital copies. In this regard, despite the seemingly-illegal nature of this mode of sharing, to date, Indonesia does not only have the ability to access knowledge but also to collect or even hoard. Nonetheless, Indonesia accounted for only 0.65% of academic publications in the ASEAN region and just over 0.2% of global publications, indicative of narrow engagement in science and a weak knowledge sector of the country. Taufiq Hanafi emphasized that his paper did not aim at negating the noble aim of libraries in the European setting at reducing inequalities related to access and opening up their collections for everyone, but rather questioned what can be done to address the issue of insularity in knowledge production.

    Taufiq Hanafi presenting his paper during the first session of the SEALG panel

    After a lively discussion of the first three presentations, the second session of this panel was opened by Jotika Khur-Yearn, SOAS Library, London, with his talk on “Digital Collections of Shan Manuscripts: Access, Discovery and Evaluation”. His paper discussed the digital collections of Shan manuscripts that have been made available for Open Access through digitisation projects with the support of generous funding from various organisations and institutions in the last few years. Through both Jotika Khur-Yearn’s participation in some of the digitisation projects and his own research interest in the Shan manuscript literature, these digital collections of Shan manuscripts have become treasure troves for exploration and discovery of rare literary material and information resources on various areas in the fields of humanities and social sciences as he illustrated with some examples in his talk. In addition to the digital collections of Shan manuscripts, he was also involved in a few projects to catalogue Shan manuscripts, and as a result he became aware of many more collections of Shan manuscripts that are still awaiting digitisation and preservation.

    Jana Igunma from the British Library, London, followed next with her presentation on “The Thai tradition of manuscript copying and related curatorial challenges”. Until the introduction of printing technology in Thailand (then Siam) in the 1830s, the tradition and art of manuscript copying was one of the two main methods to preserve texts, the other being oral transmission by way of memorising texts. While some scribes and artists aimed to perfect their copying skills to produce luxurious manuscripts for the royal family, others explored ways to integrate their individual creativity and innovation with the process of copying, and yet others worked mainly for patrons who ordered custom-made manuscript copies for Buddhist ceremonies, rites of passage or personal use. For the curator or librarian working with Thai manuscripts certain aspects of the manuscript copying tradition pose challenges – especially in the context of establishing the provenance of manuscripts whose creators remain mostly anonymous – namely creation date/period of undated manuscripts, possible place of origin or art school, patron and purpose of manuscripts. Jana Igunma asked what the term “copy” means in the Thai cultural context, discussed problems that arise with the copying of colophons and art styles, and considered what constitutes the fine line between copy and forgery in the light of a revival of the tradition of manuscript copying in Thailand in the 21st century. 

    The final talk in this panel was given by Wahyu Widodo, Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS), Leiden University and Fakultas Ilmu Budaya (FIB), Universitas  Brawijaya, Malang, on the topic “Whose Manuscripts are These? The Problems of Authorized Custodianships of the Exiled Clerics Manuscripts in the Nineteenth Century of Colonial Java”. In February 1886, accused of raising a rebellion against the Dutch colonial government, Mas Malangjoeda, a charismatic religious leader of the Banyumas-based Akmaliyyah Sufi order in Central Java, together with seventy-two of his loyal followers, was apprehended and sent to imprisonment in Buitenzorg, West Java.  Shortly afterwards, he was tried in colonial court under the colony’s criminal law and exiled to Buru Island. To add insult to injury, the manuscripts on Islamic mystical teachings that he had authored were seized and brought to Batavia. With interference from Snouck Hurgronje, these manuscripts are now kept in Leiden University Library, coded as “notes of Malangjoeda” with Cod. Or. 7577-7588. Wahyu Widodo’s presentation aimed to investigate the detailed processes of the manuscripts’ acquisition by asking: Whose sinful hands were used to expropriate these manuscripts from their rightful owner? This aim is further problematized by the fact that the European library has treated these colonial loots with high regard, which suggest legitimate custodianship. Should these manuscripts find their way home through restitution, would they be treated with equally high regard and used to contribute to the knowledge production in the postcolonial country?

    Q&A and discussion following Wahyu Widodo’s presentation during the second session of the SEALG panel

    After the lunch break, the Annual General Meeting of the SEALG was opened by the group’s secretary, Marije Plomp. Members from France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the US attended the meeting. Jana Igunma gave a short summary of the minutes of the last AGM 2019 in Leiden, which are also available on the SEALG website. Treasurer Margaret Nicholson informed the group in advance that, unfortunately, the financial report had to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. There had been no expenses the previous two years.

    The secretary received notifications from the group’s Chair, Doris Jedamski, and Treasurer, Margaret Nicholson, that they both wished to step down from their roles. This year, the election of the committee that had to be postponed twice due to the Covid-19 pandemic finally took place. Christophe Caudron was elected as the new Chair of SEALG, and the attendants of the meeting congratulated him to his new role. Jotika Khur-Yearn agreed to be interim co-treasurer to assist Margaret Nicholson until a new Treasurer can be found.

    Jana Igunma presented the usage statistics of the SEALG blog which saw very good results in the previous year 2021, with 10,562 views in total. However, views for the current year were below average due to the fact that only four blog posts had been published so far. Generally, newly published posts, especially those with a topic related to heritage collections, trigger higher viewing numbers also for previously published blog posts.

    Usage statistics of the SEALG blog for the past decade by 30 June 2022

    For example, the top five posts with the highest views during the past 12 months (as of 30 June 2022) were: An illuminated Malay Qur’an, A Treatise on Siamese Cats, Two early 19th-century Malay documents, Remembering the Black African Heroes of WWII in Burma, Buddhist manuscript textiles: Southeast Asia. The top ten countries from where the blog was accessed (all time) were the US, Thailand, the UK, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Myanmar, Singapore, Germany, Philippines which shows that the blog is reaching audiences in Southeast Asian countries.

    The next points of discussion were General Data Protection Regulations which affect how we publish information on the SEALG website and blog. The challenge is to follow the regulations, while at the same time we have to fulfil the requirements of transparency and accountability in terms of leadership and how SEALG is run. Another issue that was raised was the cost of the SEALG website (domain name and file storage) which have increased recently, so that the group has to look at possible alternatives.

    Last but not least, the attendees gave updates from their libraries, including new and ongoing projects, exhibitions, staff changes, significant new acquisitions, funding, fellowships, news from partner organisations in the US, the use of digital platforms etc. Details of the updates are included in the minutes of the meeting which were distributed to the members of SEALG. Various suggestions for locations to hold the AGM in 2023 were received, including Hamburg, Marseille and Venice.

    Apart from attending the SEALG panel and AGM, members had the opportunity to visit two exhibitions that took place during the EuroSEAS conference: Remembering 1965 and its Aftermath and Yadeya & the Coup: Taking Action in Myanmar’s Revolution. In addition, there was a rich cultural programme to accompany the conference, including film screenings, concerts, and book prize award ceremonies.

    The SEALG committee, on behalf of the SEALG members, would like to express their gratitude to the organizing team of the EuroSEAS Conference 2022 for their dedicated work and the excellent support given to our group, and especially for accommodating the SEALG panel and AGM!

    Performance of Khmu musicians from Northern Laos at the EuroSEAS Conference 2022

    Online tools for Southeast Asian librarianship

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    In the past decade, various online tools and Open Source software that can be useful in Southeast Asian librarianship have been developed. This article looks at a selection of online tools that are available to help in areas like cataloguing and creation of Romanised versions of Southeast Asian scripts, text recognition, text and image annotation, date conversion, presentation and creative usage of digitised material.

    Transliteration and Romanisation tools

    Aksharamukha is a free online tool that facilitates the conversion between various writing systems that descended from the third-century BCE Brahmi script. It can be used for Sanskrit- and Pali-based Romanisation of many Southeast Asian scripts. In addition to the simple mapping of characters, Aksharamukha attempts to implement various script/language-specific orthographic conventions such as vowel lengths, gemination and nasalisation. It also provides several customisation options to fine-tune and to apply the correct orthography. Aksharamukha currently supports 120 scripts, including 40 extinct scripts like Ariyaka, as well as 21 Romanisation methods. It is possible to upload images with printed text in any of the supported scripts, which the tool can process by way of automated text recognition and then can be Romanised or converted into any other of the supported scripts. A report on the conversion of Burmese script with Aksharamukha is available from the British Library. However, Aksharamukha is currently not yet suitable for the Romanisation of modern Thai and Lao scripts according to the ALA-LC Romanisation method. Aksharamukha was developed by Vinodh Rajan, a computer scientist and graduate in the field of Digital Paleography.

    Screenshot of Aksharamukha displaying some of the supported scripts.

    To assist with the Romanisation of modern Thai, the online transliteration tool Plangsarn offers a solution. This free tool, which is easy to use by inserting a Thai word or phrase into a mask and then convert it to the Romanised version according to the ALA-LC standard, was developed by Thammasat University Library, Bangkok, and the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), a statutory government organization under the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Ministry of Science and Technology of Thailand. Problems encountered with Plangsarn are word/syllable separation and capitalisation, which can result in incorrect spacing within words and erroneous capitalisation of names or parts of names. For example, the conversion of the name “มหาวิทยาลัยมหาจุฬาลงกรณราชวิทยาลัย” resulted in “mahāwitthayālai mahā čhulā long kō̜n Na rāt witthayālai”, which acccroding to OCLC should be “Mahāčhulālongkō̜n Rātchawitthayālai”.

    A free online tool for the Romanisation of modern Lao script is the Lao Romanisation converter, although it has its limitations since it does not support the ALA-LC Romanisation standard. The tool is based on the newly developed Romanisation system MoH 2020 which had been adopted by the Ministry of Health of Laos since 2020. In this system, each character corresponds to only one phonetic sound (with few exceptions). Diacritics (accents) and tone marks are not used, and short and long vowels are romanised the same. Geographic names are written in Roman script as a single word with only the first letter capitalised. The Romanisation is based on the Lao spelling reforms by the Lao government in 1975. The tool was initially developed for the Department of Planning and Cooperation, Ministry of Health of Laos, with the hope that it will be adopted as the national Romanisation system by the Lao government to mitigate the risks of the widespread “Karaoke” Romanisation of modern Lao script that is often used in social media.

    Text recognition and annotation tools

    Automated text recognition is becoming increasingly important in the work with manuscripts, not only among scholars and researchers, but also in the library world. Transkribus is a platform that uses machine learning technology to automate text recognition of handwritten and printed documents. By using a transcription editor to manually transcribe historical documents, members of the Transkribus community train specific text recognition models that are capable of recognising handwritten, typewritten or printed documents in any language. A pool of existing text recognition models is available for mainly European languages, which makes the process of training a specific model for an archive or manuscripts easier and faster. There are many models for non-western languages on Transkribus, but they are still mostly not available publicly. However, one can get in touch with the model creator/s and ask for them to be shared. Curators at the British Library have created a trained model on Arabic scientific manuscripts, for example. Transkribus was developed by the READ project. When the project ended, they have established a cooperative, the READ-COOP, a consortium of leading research groups from all over Europe headed by the University of Innsbruck, to continue the development and maintenance of the software and its community. Transkribus Lite is the web based instance of Transkribus. Users can upload documents, perform layout analysis, run text detection, and can experiment with their own digitised collection items.

    Recogito is an online platform for collaborative document annotation with the aim to foster better linkages between online resources documenting the past. Recogito provides a personal workspace where users can upload, collect and organise source materials – texts, images and tabular data – and collaborate in their annotation and interpretation. Recogito helps to make research more visible on the Web more easily, and to expose the results of research as Open Data. An online tutorial explains in simple steps how Recogito can be used. For Southeast Asian librarianship the function of identifying geographical names within annotations as references to places and plotting them on a map, as well as the possibility to tag persons and events are useful functions to make connections between different sources in different collections. Recogito is an initiative of the Pelagios Network, developed under the leadership of the Austrian Institute of Technology, Exeter University and The Open University, with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    Date conversion

    Southeast Asia librarians, cataloguers and curators are often confronted with various calendar or time recording systems that are used to date manuscripts, archival and early printed material as well as published books. There are numerous online tools to assist with date conversion, many of which are supported by adverts or religious contexts.

    The website Ancient Buddhist Texts offers a selection of Buddhist-Christian/Common Era converters specifically for Buddhist calendar systems used in Thailand/Laos/Cambodia and Sri Lanka/Myanmar/India. In addition, it also provides date conversion for the Cūḷasakarat (Chulasakkarat) calendar. The Ancient Buddhist Texts website is maintained by the Theravada monk Bhante Ānandajoti.

    A simple and advert-free tool for the conversion of Hijri A.H. (Islamic) dates and Christian (Common Era) dates is available from Islamic Philosophy Online, a website that was developed my members of the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies at the University of Zurich.

    A Javanese calendar (Saka era) online converter can be found on the front page of the website for Javanese literature, Sastra Jawa. This website is run by the non-profit organisation Sastra Lestari whose mission is to preserve and disseminate the literary works of the Indonesian archipelago.

    Librarians and researchers working with manuscripts from mainland Southeast Asia often find themselves confronted with colophons mentioning dates according to the luni-solar calendar, like for example “eighth day of the waxing moon of the seventh month”. The website timeanddate offers a tool to calculate moon phases at any given place anytime in the past or future (not ad-free, but advertisements can be switched off). This website has been developed by Time and Date AS, a team of almost 30 programmers, designers, journalists, and administrative staff from four different continents based in Norway.

    Screenshot of the timeanddate website displaying the moon phases of the year 1723 CE in Luang Prabang.

    Presentation and creative usage

    Digitisation projects of the past decade have resulted in huge collections of digital content that are accessible online via library websites. This has created the need to raise awareness, and to promote engagement and learning with these online collections. One useful free online tool is Exhibit, a user-friendly, fast, and responsive editor to create stories and quizzes with 3D models and IIIF-compatible high resolution images. Exhibit has a range of presentation modes including scrollytelling, slideshows, kiosks, and quizzes that can be embedded in websites or social media channels via an iframe. They can also be duplicated and remixed by users, which is perfect for online learning and classroom environments. Exhibit is supported by a group of the world’s leading libraries and museums and has a vibrant supportive community at its core. The tool was developed by Mnemoscene with the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund. Initiated to meet the online teaching needs of The University of St. Andrews, it is now used by major organisations in the UK including The British Library, Bodleian Libraries, University of Cambridge and Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust Brighton. An example of an exhibit of the Vessantara Jataka with illustrations from a Thai manuscript at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

    Compiled by Jana Igunma

    Chevening Fellowship: Shan Collections at the British Library

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    Applications for the Chevening Fellowship 2023-2024 “Shan Collections at the British Library” are still open until 1 November 2022 for individuals from Cambodia, China, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand who are fluent in Shan language and able to read a variety of Shan scripts, including Old Shan.

    This 12-month fellowship will be hosted by the Asian and African Collections department of the British Library in London, which holds about 3000 manuscripts from Southeast Asia, forming the largest and most significant collection of Southeast Asian manuscripts in the UK. Of these, approximately 100 manuscripts, divided between the Burmese and Thai collections, are written in Shan language and script, spanning from the 18th–19th centuries, and including some of the highlights of these collections. The Library also holds ca. 100 print publications in Shan, including early printed books from the 19th century and a complete set of the Tipitaka. This Chevening British Library Fellowship is an opportunity to work closely with curatorial staff in the Library’s Southeast Asia Collections on cataloguing and researching Shan language manuscripts and print publications.

    British Library Chevening Fellows are based at the Library’s St Pancras site in London and benefit from a unique research and professional development experience. They are embedded in their host department, but also in the Library’s wider postgraduate research community.

    For more detailed information and online application, please consult the Chevening website.

    Shan manuscript, front cover, dated 1893. British Library, Or 14572

    Asian Division Florence Tan Moeson Research Fellowship Program, Library of Congress

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    Applications are open for the Asian Division Florence Tan Moeson Research Fellowship Program at the Library of Congress, Washington DC.

    The Asian Division Florence Tan Moeson Research Fellowship Program is made possible by the generous donation of Florence Tan Moeson, who served as a cataloger at the Library of Congress for 43 years until she retired in 2001. Mrs. Moeson passed away on November 15, 2008.

    The purpose of the fellowship is to provide individuals with the opportunity to pursue research in the area of Asian studies, using the unparalleled collections of the Asian Division and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The fellowships are for a minimum of five business days of research at the Library of Congress. The grants may vary from $300 to $3,000 and are to be used to cover travel to and from Washington, overnight accommodations, as well as other research expenses. All research trips need to be completed before September 15, 2023. Graduate students, independent scholars, researchers, and librarians with a need for fellowship support are especially encouraged to apply.

    The fellowship application is accepted only via email submission of the completed acrobat application form and must be submitted by midnight Monday, January 16, 2023. For more details on the application process and contact information please consult the website of the Library of Congress.

    Main reading room, Library of Congress. Image source: Wikipedia

    Online access to historical newspapers from Southeast Asia

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    In the decades of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, much of Southeast Asia was under Western colonial dominance. Most of the region was divided among the British, French, Dutch, Spanish, and American powers, supplanted by a brief period of Japanese influence following the outbreak of World War II in Europe and the Pacific. The post-war era witnessed a series of revolutions as local leaders looked to regain independence from colonial powers. Decolonisation efforts and movements spread throughout the region, leaving the newly independent states in charge of their own political, economic, and social pathways for the first time in decades.

    The Southeast Asian Newspapers, an Open Access collection supported by the Center for Research Libraries and its member institutions, chronicles the changes that took place throughout the region during this period, and the challenges of early statehood. Covering several countries from the region, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, and featuring multiple languages such as Dutch, English, French, Javanese, Khmer, Spanish, Thai, and Vietnamese, the Southeast Asian Newspapers collection incorporates a wealth of coverage and perspectives on major regional and global events of the late nineteenth and twetieth centuries.

    To date, altogether 129 newspaper titles with a total of 67,762 issues dating from between 1839 to 1976 have been included: 57 from the Philippines, 37 from Vietnam, 24 from Indonesia, 5 from Thailand, 3 from Malaysia, 1 from Cambodia and 1 from Myanmar. Among the earliest printed newspapers in the collection are Tranh đ̂áu, a newspaper in Vietnamese language published in Saigon (33 issues from between 1839 to 1938, with gaps), and Nangsư̄ čhotmāihēt (หนังสือจดหมายเหตุ – Bangkok Recorder), a Thai newspaper published in Bangkok (11 issues from 1844 to 1845).

    The online collection provides free access to the fully digitised issues of the newspapers (altogether 463,246 pages). Search functions by newspaper title, free word search, date and map help locate information easily. One additional feature is “On this date in history”, which presents randomly selected articles from various newspapers published in different countries on the date in history of the visit of this collection.

    (This post contains information from the website of the Southeast Asian Newspapers collection)

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