Western Books on Southeast Asia Collection

By Gregory Green, Curator of the John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia, Cornell University Library

The Gale Archives Unbound collection titled Western Books on Southeast Asia brings together nearly three hundred years of writings by travellers from Europe to Southeast Asia.  These publications range from official reports of government sponsored expeditions to personal journals of people travelling through the region on business or pleasure.  With that variety, one can expect to find a wide range of observations in the collection.  Much of the information is quite accurate, while a large amount is based on misunderstandings of what people were seeing, or in other ways, simply incorrect.  Whether accurate or not, the collection provides a clear view of how Southeast Asia was seen during this period of time by Western eyes.

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The George Macartney Mission to China, 1792–1794

The Earl George Macartney Collection launches this month in Archives Unbound. It is a new digitisation of a fascinating resource – letters, books, sketches and journals relating to the important Macartney mission from George III to the Chinese Emperor Qianlong in 1792–1794. The Charles Wason Collection at Cornell is the largest collection of material on this event held in one place, covering a period from 1784 to 1916. This valuable piece of Anglo-Chinese history is now available in Gale’s Archives Unbound programme, where it sits alongside collections such as Papers of the British Consulates and Legation in China (1722–1951), the Chinese Recorder and the Protestant Missionary Community in China, 1867–1941. Below Dr Liren Zheng, curator of the collection at Cornell University Library, explains the importance of both the eighteenth-century mission and the accumulation of this material into one holding.

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