By Gregory Green, Curator of the John M. Echols Collection on Southeast Asia, Cornell University Library
The Gale Archives Unbound collection titled Western Books on Southeast Asia brings together nearly three hundred years of writings by travellers from Europe to Southeast Asia. These publications range from official reports of government sponsored expeditions to personal journals of people travelling through the region on business or pleasure. With that variety, one can expect to find a wide range of observations in the collection. Much of the information is quite accurate, while a large amount is based on misunderstandings of what people were seeing, or in other ways, simply incorrect. Whether accurate or not, the collection provides a clear view of how Southeast Asia was seen during this period of time by Western eyes.