The Southeast Asia Visions Collection offers a robust and well-organized archive of historical texts and images of the region. This online collection is an excellent resource for undergraduate projects on Southeast Asia as it offers over 350 written works in English and French as well as a rich collection of images from these works and locales, including photographs, drawings, prints, and maps. The time-frame for these texts is also broad, running from the 1550s to the 1920s.
The website is well framed with a multi-page section (titled “Collection”) that provides valuable detail on its online holdings and the region that it covers. Here one can find brief but helpful detail on “Historical Context” as well as “Geographic Context.” The first provides information about the history of Southeast Asia and its peoples’ experience of colonization by the Portuguese, Spanish, United States, British, Dutch, and French. It also offers an overview of the histories found within the collection, which offers a broad range of primary accounts by “missionaries, travelers, officials, military officers, captains, naturalists, scholars, children, and even a dog.” The “Geographic Context” page offers modern maps of the region and a link to Cornell University’s own Map & Geospatial Information Collection for further exploration.
Students can also find a useful analysis of the significance of the foreign accounts and, importantly, the selection criteria for their inclusion, as well as downloadable bibliographies of works in the collection at the site.
The search engine for the site is flexible. It allows standard search categories and helpful limit-settings which allow for precise searching. A search for “children” in the “all fields” category brings up a significant number of hits (indeed, results number in the thousands) which then can be profitably sorted through date, format (e.g. photographs, drawings, portraits, tables, etc.), geographic data, and keywords. The viewer engine itself allows for close examination of both images as well as text.
This well-designed collection is very useful for childhood studies. It offers a wealth of material for research on the ways European and American writers framed the child in their own colonialist discourses, both visual and textual, as well as information on state policy, family, health, education, and more. The range of sources and their ready accessibility also provides valuable material for work on diverse Southeast Asia topics related to local, regional, and global history.

Reviewed by Susan Fernsebner, University of Mary Washington
How to Cite This Source
Susan Fernsebner, Southeast Asia Visions Collection in World History Commons,