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A Hundred Harvests: The History of Asian Studies at Berkeley

Southeast Asian Studies

Historical development after World War II provided an impetus to the introduction of teaching and research programs focusing on the Southeast Asia region in American higher education. Funded by the Ford Foundation, the Southeast Asian studies program was inaugurated in 1954 to meet a national need and the 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. ScalapinoMary R. Haas, and Denzel R. Carr, founded the program at that time with the support of Chancellor Clark Kerr. 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.

Berkeley offers undergraduate and graduate courses with a Southeast Asian specialization in anthropology, Asian American Studies, the 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.

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, and 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 Service

Berkeley's South/Southeast Asia Library Service (S/SEALS), 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/SEALS functions as the designated reference and bibliographical center for research on a total of 18 South and Southeast Asian countries. 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 provides full access to the library information system including local, regional, and international online catalogs, CD-ROM databases, and a gateway to worldwide web resources. The bulk of the South and Southeast Asia collections, over 400,000 titles, is housed in the Main Stacks and various specialized service points on the Berkeley campus. S/SEALS also maintains a non-circulating collection of monographs of current general interest, high-use newspapers, and journals to support research reference and information needs. S/SEALS offers 56 public service 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 visitors coming from communities throughout California and the western United States. 

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 along with the Yale University Library, Cornell University Library, and the Library of Congress. They were the strongest research collections on the West coast, with the emphasis on social sciences and humanities in western and regional languages, covering both prewar and postwar periods of Southeast Asia. The collections are quite influential in earlier western language publications on Burma, the Philippines, and Indochina since the pre-World War II 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 the 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, the 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. 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. The Archive has been heavily used by scholars from all over the world. In addition, the Map Collection holds over 7,000 maps, atlases, gazetteers, and nautical charts on Southeast Asia.