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The Southeast Asia Collection

image of puppet Southeast Asia Collection

Yale University Library

130 Wall Street, Box 208240

New Haven CT 06520-8240


Phone: (203) 432-1859

Fax: (203) 432-7231

Rich Richie, Curator


Collection History

Yale University Library began collecting material on Southeast Asia in 1899, when Clive Day was appointed to its faculty and a teaching program concerning Southeast Asia was initiated.  It was due to this early start that the library was able to acquire many of the now out-of-print serials, especially from the Dutch East Indies. Historical developments after the Second World War provided a further impetus to the program, and in 1947 Yale established its Southeast Asia Studies Program, the first area studies program in the United States to embark on the study of Southeast Asia in all disciplines.  The library added special staff to work in this area and to assure continuous acquisition of this material, now designated as the Southeast Asia Collection.  

Our Mission

The mission of the Southeast Asia Collection is to support teaching and research on the ten countries of Southeast Asia -- Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and the Philippines. The collection emphasizes primarily social sciences and humanities. Countries of primary focus are Insular Southeast Asia, i.e., Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. Materials in the Southeast Asia Collection are in both western and vernacular languages of the countries covered. The books are integrated in the Sterling Memorial Library stacks.

Collection Strengths

Yale has participated in the PL-480 Program for acquisitions of Indonesian materials since its inception. The program is now called the Library of Congress Southeast Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program and has expanded to include Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. We have agents in the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand. For a number of years we received Cambodian materials from a friend of the Library who was stationed in Phnom Penh.

Two distinctive collections that came to the library were the Maurice Durand Collection, which is particularly strong in literature, history, and civilization of Indo-China and the Yeh Hua Fen Collection, which consists mainly of books on Malaysia and Singapore. We have old serial runs from Thailand as well as Dutch materials on the Dutch East Indies which are unique in the country.

Substantial collections on Southeast Asia can also be found in the Social Science Library, Forestry Library, Law Library, and Divinity Library. The Economic Growth Center Collection, located in the Social Science Library, contains economic surveys, statistical publications, development plans and censuses from over 100 developing countries, including those of Southeast Asia.

A special program at Yale, the Cambodian Genocide Program, studies the tragedy during the Khmer Rouge revolution between 1975 and 1979, and compiles information on the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime. This information is made accessible to Cambodians, international scholars, and legal professionals. There are four searchable databases: bibliographic, biographic, photographic and geographic.

The Council on Southeast Asia Studies at Yale promotes research and teaching on all aspects of the cultures, politics and economies of Southeast Asia. The Council publishes a Monograph Series covering historical, political, economic and anthropological subjects relating to Southeast Asia, and two additional series focusing on Vietnamese culture, literature, history and folklore. The Council organizes periodic conferences and sponsors a lunchtime seminar series.

A web site by Ann Okerson, Associate Yale University Librarian for Collections Development and Management, offers an interesting trip narrative and beautiful photos of Cambodia taken in 1996 and 1999.


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