UC Berkeley Library Web
Southeast Asian Design Image Southeast Asia Resources

Collections and New Acquisitions

Electronic Resources

Bibliographic Guides

Southeast Asia Studies at Berkeley
History of Southeast Asia Studies at University of California, Berkeley

The Academic Programs

Historical development after World War II provided an impetus to the introduction of teaching and research programs focusing on Southeast Asia region in American higher education. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the Southeast Asian studies program was inaugurated since 1954 to meet a national need and extensive interest in Southeast Asia at the University of California, Berkeley. Chaired by Professor Woodbridge Bingham, a Southeast Asia Studies Committee composed of Professors Thomas C. Blaisdell, Jr., C.M. Li, Robert A. Scalapino, Mary R. Haas and Denzel R.Carr were the founding members of the program with the support of Chancellor Clark Kerr at the time. Academic courses were offered at the Departments of Anthropology, Geography, Linguistics, Oriental Languages and Political Science. Language training was especially emphasized in Indonesian (Malay), Malayo-Polynesian linguistics, Thai and Vietnamese. Professor Mary R. Haas undertook the monumental Thai-English dictionary project which was operated through the Institute of East Asiatic Studies. Her Thai-English Student's Dictionary first published in 1964 is still the definitive work for Thai language studies today. Professor David Prescott Barrows, the 9th President of the University of California from 1919 to 1923, lived in the Philippines from March 1900 until 1906. During part of this time he served as Secretary of Education for the Philippines government. While in the Philippines he studied the country's history and did anthropological field work. He taught Philippine History at Cal. Among his many books is History of the Philippines. Barrows Hall was named after him when the building was opened in 1963 on campus.

Berkeley offers undergraduate and graduate courses with a Southeast Asian specialization in anthropology, Asian American Studies, Group in Asian Studies, business, city and regional planning, economics, English, environmental science policy and management, law, geography, history, linguistics, music, political science, women's studies, etc. The Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies established in 1972 offers a variety of courses in South and Southeast Asian civilizations, languages, literature and religious studies. The Department confers the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy in South and Southeast Asian studies and as are the Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Philosophy with a Southeast Asian specialization in a number of schools and departments.

The Center for Southeast Asia Studies

The Center for Southeast Asia Studies was established on July 1, 1960, under the chairmanship of Professor Guy Pauker for the development of research, teaching and training facilities on Southeast Asia. It sponsors annual Southeast Asian studies conferences, lectures, workshops during the academic year and provides numerous opportunities to visiting faculty and scholars from Southeast Asia and other parts of the world to work with Berkeley faculty to promote interdisciplinary research and interaction in the region of Southeast Asian studies.

The South/Southeast Asia Library

Berkeley's South/Southeast Asia Library (S/SEAL), formerly known as the Reading Room of the joint Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, was integrated into 438 Doe Library in September 1970. S/SEAL functions as the designated reference and bibliographical collection. It has been relocated to 120 Doe Library since summer of 1998. It contains an extensive reference collection of over 3,500 items including national, general and specialized bibliographies, indexes, printed library catalogs, dictionaries, directories, other reference and bibliographical works, and full access to the library information system including local, regional and international online catalogs, CD-ROM databases, and gateway to worldwide web resources. The bulk of the South and Southeast Asia collections over 600,000 holdings is housed in the Gardner Stacks and various specialized service points on the Berkeley campus. S/SEALS also maintains a non-circulating collection of monographs of current general interests, high-use newspapers and journals to support research reference and information needs. S/SEAL offers 56 public services hours a week during regular semesters and about 20 hours during intersessions and summer sessions not only to the Berkeley primary clientele but also to the Bay Area communities throughout California and the western United States.

The Southeast Asia Collections

Historically, the Southeast Asia Collections at the University of California, Berkeley were known as one of the finest collections in the United States among the Yale University Library, Cornell University Library, and the Library of Congress. They were the strongest research collections in the West coast, with the emphasis on social sciences and humanities in western and regional languages, covering both prewar and postwar periods on Southeast Asia. The collections are quite influential in earlier western language publications on Burma, the Philippines, and Indochina since the pre-second World War period. The Library has an excellent run on annual reports of the colonial administrators in Southeast Asia, including departmental and other agency reports on Burma. Dutch colonial literature on Indonesia is well represented, including all the major journals. In particular, the Indonesia collection is one of the most comprehensive Southeast Asia collections in this country. Berkeley participated in the Library of Congress Southeast Asia Cooperative Acquisitions Program, formerly known as Public Law 480 Program since its inception in 1964, under which it has received more than 20,000 items including monographs, government documents, serials and audio-visual resources. Since 1970, the collections on Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei have also been strengthened by The Library's full participation in the Library of Congress Program for these countries.

The Southeast Asia Collections received a myriad of special collections resulting from bequests and gifts. The Asia Foundation donated a large number of works in Indonesian, Pali tripitaka in Burmese script, and other rare items. The Bancroft Library holds an extraordinary collection of Professor David P. Barrows including monographs, diaries, manuscripts, photographs, maps and papers, and numerous materials on the Philippines (1900-1909) dating from the period of his post as Secretary of Education for the Philippines government there. Lawrence P. Briggs, former U.S. Consul donated a substantial collection of items on Indonesia, Indochina, and the Malay Peninsula. The McFarland Family, one of the earliest and most important American missionary families in Thailand, bestowed a preeminent archive of materials related to Thailand between 1860 and 1950, including a valuable collection of photographs taken at Angkor and other archaeological sites in Cambodia and Thailand, dating back to 1878. The Swift Family contributed a priceless collection of Buddhist palm leaf manuscripts from Thailand. The Library also holds the invaluable photographs and artifacts of material culture collected by early American scholars such as David P. Barrows, R. F. Barton, Alfred Kroeber, and Bernard Moses. Located off campus and directed by former U.S. foreign service officer Douglas Pike is the Indochina Archive which includes over 300,000 items on the history of the Vietnam War and contemporary Indochina and has been heavily used by scholars all over the world. In addition, the Earth Sciences / Map Library holds over 7,000 maps, atlases, gazetteers, and nautical charts on Southeast Asia.

Go to top

Copyright (C) 2013 by the Library,
University of California, Berkeley.
All rights reserved. Data owner: ssea@library.berkeley.edu 
Designed by Rebecca Darby-Williams
Last update 2/2/2013.