Area Studies: China and Southeast Asia

A varied array of records of traders, travellers, missionaries and diplomats, from the mid-seventeenth century to the late twentieth century, offering Western perspectives on all aspects of Chinese culture and society.

Modules include

Module Summary Date
China Through Western Eyes

Manuscript Records of Traders, Travellers and Missionaries and Diplomats, 1792-1942

This collection consists of the diaries, journals, letters, photographs and scrapbooks of a host of American and British businessmen, tourists, missionaries, journalists and diplomats from the first British mission to China to the thawing of East-West relations in the 1970s and 1980s. Included are the papers of John Backhouse, chief clerk at the British consulate in Hong Kong in the 1840s and 1850s, J A Thomas (1862-1940), American tobacco entrepreneur and Sinologist, and G E Morrison (1862-1920), Australian journalist in China. 

China Inland Mission

From the School of Oriental and African Studies, London

The China Inland Mission was founded in Brighton in 1865 by James Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) to evangelise China’s inland provinces. It sent its first missionaries to China in 1866 and was given major impetus by the famous ‘Lammermuir’ mission, headed by Taylor, which is often seen as a turning point in the history of missions to China.

This collection consists of J H Taylor’s correspondence, journals and other collected files, personal papers of other CIM missionaries, the organisational records of the CIM, the records of the Chefoo Schools Association, and CIM publications.

Asian Economic History: Series One

The Opium Trade and the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, 1945-1948

This collection brings together the UK Foreign Office files relating to the opium trade and the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs from the period 1945 to 1948. Included are documents as varied as surveys estimating world requirements of dangerous drugs, directives for the control of opium, texts of the various narcotics protocols, United Nations questionnaires and reports on methods of determining the origin of opium by chemical or physical means.

Asian Economic History: Series Two

Economic Development in Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, 1950-1980

This collection presents UK Government documents from the National Archives, Kew relating to the economic stresses of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan as rapidly emerging and newly industrialised economies by the late 1970s. It also covers economic developments in Malaysia following the granting of independence and the advances of the oil industry in Brunei.


Key data

Period covered


Source archives

  • School of Oriental and African Studies, London
  • William R Perkins Library, Duke University
  • Yale Divinity Library
  • The National Archives, London
  • State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
  • Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand
  • Western interactions with China and South East Asia from 1792 to the present
  • China culture and customs
  • Diplomacy, foreign policy and global politics
  • Missionaries and religion
  • Trade and economic development
  • Opium trade and narcotics
  • Personal papers
  • Correspondence
  • Journals, travel writing and diaries
  • Logbooks
  • Photographs
  • Ephemera
  • Artefacts
  • Periodicals
  • Business and Economics
  • East Asian Studies
  • South Asian Studies

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