Book Collections at the ISEAS Library

Besides new publications, ISEAS Library has been fortunate to receive donations of personal libraries by researchers and prominent personalities, often as part of their larger private papers donations.

While some of these donated collections are of significant size, others were carefully curated by their donors to focus on niche topics. These donated collections supplement the Library’s regular acquisitions of new materials. Here is a small sampling of such collections available at the Library. 

The Wang Gungwu Collection

Professor Wang Gungwu is, among other things, a noted historian and scholar of China and Southeast Asia. He was also Chairman of the ISEAS Yusof – Ishak Institute Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2019. Over the past 15 years, Prof Wang has donated thousands of books, journals and articles from his personal library. In 2010, the Library set up the Wang Gungwu Corner, which holds a small selection of Prof Wang’s collection. For a list of publications in the Wang Gungwu Collection at the Library, click here.

The Wang Gungwu Corner at ISEAS Library

The S. Rajaratnam Collection

Mr S. Rajaratnam, Singapore’s first and longest-serving Foreign Minister, was a Distinguished Senior Fellow at ISEAS (then known as the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies) from 1988 to 1997. He was an avid reader and collector of books on a wide range of subjects, many of which were donated to the ISEAS Library in 2007 by his nephews Datuk Dr S. Vijayaratnam and Mr S. Jothiratnam.

The S. Rajaratnam Collection in the ISEAS Library, Singapore: a catalogue lists 4,315 titles available at the library. A companion volume, S. Rajaratnam: a bibliography, contains citations of speeches, articles and works by and on S. Rajaratnam.

A catalogue and bibliography of the S. Rajaratnam collection published by ISEAS Library

The Toshio Egawa Collection

In 2010, the ISEAS Library received 900 books and manuscripts from Mr Toshio Egawa, former Managing Director of Minebea Corporation and Konica Corporation, Japan. Mr Egawa’s association with Singapore spans more than half a century, beginning in the 1960s when he was tasked to establish the pioneer Minebea Corporation factory in Jurong.

Previously from 2016-2018, Mr Egawa had also donated his life-long private archives, as well an eclectic collection of more than 1,300 books that he had gathered or consulted as part of his personal research. The Toshio Egawa Collection is a gateway not only to the study of Japanese culture and history particularly in the Meiji period, but also to Mr Egawa’s personal insights into art, philosophy and history.

Toshio Egawa Collection in the ISEAS Library, Singapore: an enlarged catalogue presents the full extent of his donation, with Volume II of the catalogue focusing on books and publications. Mr Egawa’s collection of books at the ISEAS Library can be browsed on the Library’s catalogue through this link.

A two-volume catalogue of the Toshio Egawa Collection published by ISEAS Library

Other selected collections

Professor Harry J. Benda (1919-1971) was a specialist in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In 1968, he became the first and founding Director of this Institute, laying firm foundations for its development. After Professor Benda’s untimely death in 1971, Mrs Eva Benda generously donated to the Library his collection of about 1,000 off-prints and other publications, covering the fields of history, politics and Southeast Asian studies – fields that had been Professor Benda’s main academic interests. A list of these publications is available on the Sealion catalogue here.

Professor Ian C. Glover (1934-2018) was a pioneer of Southeast Asian archaeology. In 2018, Professor Glover gifted his collection of books and journals to ISEAS Library, the majority of which relate to archaeology in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Australia. A list of these publications is available on the Sealion catalogue here.

Professor Mary Somers Heidhues (1936- ) is known for her research on Indonesia, especially on the Chinese minority there. In 2017, Professor Heidhues deposited with ISEAS Library some of her research notes as well as publications from her years of researching Southeast Asia. These publications are available on the Sealion catalogue here.

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