Southeast Asia Visions Collection
While many students may have an interest in Southeast Asia, locating primary sources on the region's history can often seem a challenging task. This online collection contributes nicely to projects on the region as it offers over 350 written works in English and French that provide first-hand accounts of travel in Southeast Asia, as well as roughly 1,000 images of the region, including photographs, drawings, prints, and maps. The time-frame for these texts is also rich in its breadth as the collection includes works composed between 1550 and the 1920s.
The website is well framed with a multi-page section ("About the Collection") that provides valuable detail on its online holdings and the region that it covers. Useful information on the area's history, geography, on the significance of the travel accounts (and, importantly, the selection criteria for their inclusion), as well as downloadable bibliographies of works in the collection already sorted by the country or author's name are all available here.
The search engine for the site is quite flexible. Users can search for terms in full-text, author, and title fields along with related options for limiting and focusing the search (a subject-heading search would, of course, improve this even further.) A search for "child" in the full-text field results in 297 records, with each providing the number of text matches found for the term within each source. These textual matches can be seen by clicking a "Results Details" link that provides a textual excerpt in which the search term has been located and a link to the digital scan of the exact page itself. Links to the each of the related works' own table of contents and first page are also provided.
Another profitable way to explore the resource is also via the "Browse" page for images and their related keywords, which, with some digging, provide a good number of images related to children. Key topics and themes for exploration here might include costume, dwellings, religion, class and gender, among others.
This collection can be nicely utilized in a study of the ways in which images of the child figure within (and help to convey) the broader themes of European and American writings on a colonized space. For example, one can find a good number of works written on the Philippines via the "Browse" page for images, which include listings under letter "C" for children. A student might explore both the images and the texts in which they are situated, comparing the visual compositions associated with children to the language and meanings conveyed by the written account itself.
In sum, the strengths of this site lie in its depth as a primary source collection, particularly in the temporal range of its assembled works and in its rich assembly of accompanying images as well as their ready availability as a digital resource.
How to Cite This Source
Susan Fernsebner, "Southeast Asia Visions Collection," in Children and Youth in History, Item #378, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/website-reviews/378 (accessed April 17, 2014).