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Compendium of Open Access Resources on Southeast Asia

International Studies

Leiden University Libraries

In the light of the Netherlands’ long and stormy engagement with Indonesia, dating from the founding of the VOC in 1602, it may come as no surprise that some of the world’s oldest and most important collections on Indonesia can be found in Dutch libraries. A case in point is Leiden University Libraries. Leiden's Digital Collections feature a wide array of digital resources of relevance to the study of Indonesia, including:


  • Aceh Books - This digital collection, formerly housed at KITLV, offers full-text access to more than 1,200 publications on Aceh, the province located at the northern end of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia.


  • Balinese Narrative Drawings - This collection of Balinese narrative drawings and gouaches was commissioned by Van der Tuuk to illustrate his Old Javanese-Balinese-Dutch dictionary (Kawi-Balineesch-Nederlandsch woordenboek ). The Balinese dictionary was posthumously published in Batavia between 1897 and 1912, without illustrations.


  • Dutch East Indies Literature - This collection features Dutch-language literature of colonial and post-colonial Indonesia from the seventeenth century to the present day. It includes Dutch, Indo-European and Indonesian authors. Its subject matter thematically revolves around the VOC and Dutch East Indies eras, but also includes postcolonial discourse.


  • Dutch Colonial Maps - This  collection comprises cartographic material of the former Dutch colonies of present-day Indonesia, Surinam and the Netherlands Antilles and the regions of the Dutch East- and West-India companies (VOC and WIC).


  • Kong Koan Papers (吧城公館) - This archival collection contains the administrative documents of the Chinese Council (the Kong Koan, 吧城公館) of Batavia (Jakarta). The Chinese Council of Batavia arose as a representative body of Chinese autonomy under Dutch authority in the second half of the seventeenth century. 


  • Oral History Archive Indonesia (SMGI) - The Oral History Archive Indonesia (SMGI) is a voluminous database with audio files and summaries of interviews with 724 persons about their experiences while living in the Netherlands East Indies/Indonesia during the last period of the Dutch colonial presence (roughly between 1935–1962). Please note that permission is required to access this archive. Contact


  • Snouck Hurgronje Papers -  Collection of printed books, manuscripts, private papers, photographs and early sound recordings of Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), the Netherlands’ most prominent Orientalist of the late 19th and early 20th century. 


  • Southeast Asian Pop Music - This is the single largest digital collection of popular Indonesian music in the world. Several thousand original analogue vinyl records have been digitized. They include recordings from the nostalgic Keroncong songs of the Dutch East Indies, like 'Bengawan Solo' sung by Rudi van Dalm, to the old-fashioned folk music modernized by adding electric guitars, keyboards and drums as in the so-called 'Pop Keroncong' sung by Koes Plus.

Indonesian Pop Music.1Indonesian Pop Music.2

Nationaal Archief

The Nationaal Archief of the Netherlands is arguably the largest archival collection on Indonesia in the world. The archive features documents, photographs, and an impressive map collection. The strength of the Nationaal Archief is the late colonial period. The two largest collections are Afscheid van Indië; Archiefbestanden Buitenland  (Farewell to the Indies, Overseas Archive Files), and Netherland Forces Intelligence Service [NEFIS] en Centrale Militaire Inlichtingendienst [CMI] in Nederlands-Indië (Netherland Forces Intelligence Service [NEFIS] and Central Military Intelligence Service [CMI] in the Dutch East Indies). Combined, these two collections amount to more than 200,000 scans.

British Library

As part of the ambitious Endangered Archives Programme, the British Library has digitized an impressive collection of thousands of rare manuscripts, imprints, and correspondence, and photographed nearly 1,500 artefacts from Indonesia and the broader Malay world.  

University of Washington

Documenting Chinese-Indonesian History 

The University of Washington Libraries collaborated with Anthropology Ph.D. student, Evi Sutrisno, who was conducting her dissertation field research on Chinese Indonesian Confucianism, to digitize the rare and fragile Sino-Malay literature owned by two temple libraries in Java. The first project was conducted in Boen Bio (Wen Miao) - a Confucian temple of Surabaya, East Java - in 2010-2011. The temple was founded in 1907 and had a collection of religious books and magazines in Chinese and Malay languages in its abandoned library. The second project was conducted in the Hok An Kiong temple, Muntilan, Central Java in 2014-2016. The temple was founded in 1898 and had served as a religious, social and learning space for the Chinese in the area. As in the case of Boen Bio, the Hok An Kiong also has an abandoned library, where popular Sino-Malay novels and magazines were collected. To date, the University of Washington has digitized over 17,000 pages from the temple libraries at Boen Bio and Hok An Kiong. The digital scans can be downloaded in PDF format. 

Cornell Modern Indonesia Project

The Cornell Modern Indonesia Project (CMIP) was initiated in the 1950s by faculty members in Cornell's Southeast Asia Program who were committed to making contemporary analyses of Indonesia and translations of its important documents available to scholars and students. The 75 titles in this series are divided into four categories: Interim Reports, Translations, Monographs, and Bibliographies. These works capture the drama of Indonesia's political and social evolution through the twentieth century: its struggle for independence from the Dutch under the leadership of Sukarno, reactions to the Japanese Occupation, the development of its civil government, its civil insurgencies, and the conditions that prevailed throughout the long dictatorship of General Suharto. A few other works in this series, such as Benedict Anderson's Mythology and the Tolerance of the Javanese, reflect on earlier Indonesian history relevant to the modern nation. The entire collection is searchable through the Hathi Trust.

Indonesian Music Archive

The Indonesian Music Archive consists of approximately 193 hours of audio recordings made in Indonesia. The collection began its life as the “Archive of Field Recordings,” a project initiated by then-graduate student John Pemberton (PhD 1989, now in the anthropology department at Columbia University) that brought together and documented reel-to-reel recordings of Central Javanese gamelan and vocal music, most of them made in the 1970s in the court cities of Surakarta and Yogyakarta. The archive also includes recordings of the music and rituals of the Sasak people of the island of Lombok, made by Judith Ecklund (PhD 1977) as part of her dissertation research, and recordings of sung verse from Aceh, made by Emeritus Professor James Siegel in 1968.

Wilson Center Digital Archive

The Wilson Center Digital Archives features an extraordinary digital collection of de-classified primary sources of relevance to Indonesia and Southeast Asia as a whole, particularly on the topic of the Cold War, and Chinese foreign policy vis-a’-vis Southeast Asia.


After the Independence of Indonesia in 1945, the Indonesian National Archives or Arsip Nasional Republik Indonesia (ANRI) inherited an enormous number of documents dating from the seventeenth to the mid- twentieth centuries from the Dutch East India Company or Verenigde Oost-Indische Companie (VOC) and the former colonial state known as the Netherlands East Indies (1818-1942). Since Independence in 1945, the government of the Republic of Indonesia has kept the VOC records with particular care and attention. In recent years, the Indonesian government has undertaken the Herculean task of digitizing a substantial part of the Dutch East India Company archives. 

Cornell University Library Digital Collections

In addition to the Southeast Asia Visions project, Cornell University is home to a large Indonesian Music Library. In addition, the  Kroch Asia Rare Materials Archive includes thousands of images and other archival resources on Indonesia.