Skip to Main Content

Compendium of Open Access Resources on Southeast Asia

International Studies

The British Library


Temple Mural, Wat Phra Sing, photograph by the author


The British Library is without question one of the finest libraries in the world, and as such, it is no small wonder that the BL is at the forefront in digitizing and preserving important collections from Thailand. Under the auspices of the Endangered Archives Program (EAP), the BL has undertaken a vast number of digitization projects with a special focus on Thailand, including:

Apart from the EAP, the British Library has digitized several other important sources, such as the Chakrabongse Collection of Thai Royal Letters, and rare illustrated manuscripts, including the Phra Malai

Thammasat University Libraries

Founded in 1934, Thammasat University is a public research university in Bangkok, Thailand, and home to one of the largest digital collections in Southeast Asia, including:

  • Wat Bowonniwet Vihara Cremation Volume Collection - Features well over 11,000 cremation volumes,  A substantial number of the cremation volumes found here may also be accessed via the Internet Archive, which offers faster download times. 
  • Puey Ungphakorn Archives - Recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as Thailand’s “outstanding statesman,” Dr. Puey was a leader of the underground Free Thai Movement during the Japanese occupation period, a brilliant economist and educator, and a beloved rector of Thammasat University from 1971 to 1976. 
  • Rare Books Collection - This collection contains nearly 2,000 rare books in Thai and English on a wide range of subjects, including history, Buddhism, politics, and the arts. 
  • Thammasat University Theses Collection - Contains over 30,000 theses submitted between 1982-2007, all of which can be downloaded for free in PDF format. Most theses at Thammasat are submitted in English. 

The École française d'Extrême-Orient ( EFEO)

Palm leaf Manuscript at EFEO

Since its establishment in 1900, the EFEO has made notable contributions to the preservation and study of the cultural heritage of Thailand. The Lanna Manuscripts project is a case in point. This open access database  contains several hundred digitized manuscripts reproduced from forty-one monastic libraries in Northern Thailand and one public library in Bangkok (the Siam Society). 

Library of Congress

Thai Elections Web Archive 

Almost 10  years ago, the staff at the Library of Congress field office in Jakarta, Indonesia launched an ambitious web archiving program. One such project involved capturing and archiving Thai website content (in Thai, with some English) on the Thai general elections of 2011, 2014, and 2019. The archive is fully searchable. 

The Library of Congress field office in Jakarta also captured and archived Thai web content on the Royal Cremation Ceremony for H.M. King Bhumipol Adulyadej

David K. Wyatt Collection

Thanks in large part to funds provided by the United States Department of Education TICFIA (Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access) grant, Ohio University Libraries, in collaboration with Digital Initiatives, Lyrasis, the Internet Archive, the Southeast Asia Digital Library and Northern Illinois University, was able to digitize a selection of rare Thai-language materials from the David K. Wyatt Collection. The digital collection consists of King Chulalongkorn’s 24-volume diary, spanning the years 1876 to 1887, and more than thirty volumes of travel writings, which chronicle the King’s royal visits to India, Malaya, Singapore, Java, Western Europe, Russia, and the remote corners of Siam. The entire digital collection is freely available on the Internet Archive and the Southeast Asia Digital Library.

Chiang Mai University Library

Chiang Mai University Library has digitized many unique collections, including hundreds of rare books. Chiang Mai University Special Collections houses several digital collections of note, including : the Digital Heritage Collection, featuring several hundred rare Thai books, Lanna Food, with a special focus on the history of Northern Thai cuisine, and Lanna Thai Songs, which explores the history and culture of Northern Thai music, complete with several digital audio files highlighting the range of Northern Thai music.   

Chester Beatty Digital Collections

Chester Beatty Digital Collections houses a small, but rich and vivid collection of early Thai manuscripts. 

Manuscript from the Chester Beatty Museum