Education About Asia: Online Archives

Facts About Asia: EAA Archival Recommendations: Asia in World History (Part 2), and Comparative Asia and the World Websites

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EAA Archival Recommendations: Asia in World History (Part 2), and Comparative Asia and the World Websites

In order to provide recommended, highly-utilized teaching resources that directly relate to this special section, the first part of this column includes (arranged, roughly chronologically, from the latter part of the sixteenth century to the present), annotations of a variety of EAA feature articles, teaching resources essays, and in some cases, book reviews. Annotated entries in this portion of the column include resources that are applicable not only to world and Asian history, but US History as well since the large majority of EAA readers reside in the US or North America. The commonalities the recommended resources share are that large numbers of instructors and students have digitally accessed them, and all recommended resources are currently available in the EAA archives at

In the second portion of the column three websites of organizations are highlighted. Although two of the three are US-based organizations, people throughout the world including many educators and students use these regularly updated sites for a variety of reasons; the ease of doing world comparisons, the accurate information that can be accessed on the sites, and in one case, the well-organized, innovative and high-quality teaching modules on a variety of Asia and world topics.

EAA Archival Recommendations: Asia in World History (Part 2)

“The Philippines: An Overview of the Colonial Era” by Dana Herrera (vol. 20, no. 1, spring 2015)

The histories and cultures of multiple Asian nations have been dramatically affected by colonialism and imperialism, in some cases by both Western and Asian overlords. In “The Philippines: An Overview of the Colonial Era,” anthropologist and historian Dana Herrera authors a superb introduction to the Filipino experience including descriptions of numerous armed conflicts in the archipelago, as well as enduring cultural influences both the conquerors and the conquered exerted on each other. Since the latest version of the EAA archives launched in 2020, Professor Herrera’s article is the single most accessed archived article.

“The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States” by Dave Wang (vol. 16, no. 2, fall 2011)

In the US, middle and high school teachers often have responsibility for American as well as world history. Dave Wang’s “The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States” works for both courses. The author evidentially demonstrates that Imperial China influenced the thought and actions of Franklin, Washington, and Jefferson, as well as other US Founders. Especially interested readers can find a review of Wang’s recently published book, China and the Founding of the United States: The Influence of Traditional Chinese Civilization elsewhere in this issue.

“The Saga of Manjirō” by Junji Kitadai (vol. 19, no. 2, fall 2014)

Junji Kitadai’s “The Saga of Manjirō” most certainly has the correct title. By all means read how in the Tokugawa era, a poor teenage castaway ended up being the first Japanese to live in the US.

“Ambassadors of Exchange: the Japanese Mission to the US” by Benita Stambler (vol. 16, no. 2, fall 2011)

The formal purpose of the 1860 seventy-seven-member ambassadorial mission to the US was to ratify a recently-concluded Japan-US commercial treaty but the first major group of Japanese on US shores had extensive media coverage, were honored through a parade down Broadway in New York City and met members of Congress and President Buchanan. The author does a good job of including several teaching resources.

“Digital Archives: Teaching Indian Colonial History Through Photographs” by Rachel Ball-Phillips (vol. 20, no. 3, winter 2015)

Rachel Ball-Phillips’ “Digital Archives: Teaching Indian Colonial History Through Photographs” is a short, but useful teaching resources essay whose narrative and photographs assist instructors in understanding mid-nineteenth century colonial India through analyzing both British perceptions of India during this period and viewing a unique historical record compiled at the dawn of photography on the subcontinent. Readers particularly interested in the topic can digitally access a link in the article for many more photographs from the William Johnson Collection archived at Southern Methodist University’s DeGolyer Special Collections Library. Readers interested in comparative cultural content that transcends East Asia can also access the online supplement for the article and examine a course syllabus. Professor Ball-Phillips and her colleague Neil Foley taught a course at SMU that included Mexico and the American Southwest, as well as India.

“American Visitors to Meiji Japan” by Dan Métraux (vol. 19, no. 3, winter 2014)

Dan Métraux in “American Visitors to Meiji Japan” provides biographical vignettes of thirteen American men and women who came to Japan, including missionaries, artists, politicians, educators, and writers. His profiles range from the nationally and internationally famous to individuals about who most readers will be unfamiliar. Almost all helped to change Japan and in a number of cases were profoundly influenced themselves by their experiences as visitors, or as residents of much longer duration in Japan’s Meiji Era (1868-1912).

“The Russo-Japanese War and World History” by John Steinberg (vol. 13, no. 2, fall 2008)

For many readers, historian John Steinberg’s “The Russo-Japanese War and World History” might seem esoteric compared to the twentieth century world wars. The author does an excellent job of disabusing instructors and students of this notion: the war ushered in social, political, economic, and technological changes—including global cross-cultural perceptions the war helped alter. The rise of a now familiar pop-art form coincided with the Russo-Japanese War and left a fascinating primary source treasure trove.

“China 1905–1908: Harrison Sacket Elliott’s Letters and Photographs” by Jean Elliott Johnson (vol. 11, no. 3, winter 2006)

The late Jean Elliott Johnson’s “China 1905–1908: Harrison Sacket Elliott’s Letters and Photographs” is probably the best article in the entire EAA archives that combines rare photographs of the last days of the Qing dynasty and masterful integration of primary source excerpts from letters the man who would become her father wrote to his family about his experiences in China. Presuming high school and beginning university students are familiar with rudimentary content on early twentieth century China, this is a superb student reading. Students can read and see a twenty-one-year-old American’s impressions of Chinese culture including commentary on daily life as well as a chronicle of major events like the Boxer Rebellion, and the 1905–1906 government transition from Confucian-based civil service examinations to a more “modern” assessment process. Elliott served for three years as stenographer and aide for the American Methodist Bishop to China.

“What’s So Bad About The Good Earth? “by Charles W. Hayford (vol. 13, no. 2, winter 1998)

This historian of China’s reflective case for use, with caveats, of Pearl Buck’s world-famous novel of rural China make this an enduringly popular article for educators.

“Americans and the Development of Civil Society in Modern Korea” by Donald Clark (vol. 19, no. 1, spring 2014)

Historian Donald Clark focuses upon the role of Americans in helping create civil society in Korea from the latter nineteenth century until the early 1980s, and especially missionary efforts shortly before and after the beginning of the twentieth century that helped empower women and the poor. This selection is also highly recommended as a student reading in several courses because of the author’s accessible prose and balanced treatment of various issues involving civil society before South Korea’s democratic transition. Instructors and students who struggle to understand the relative popularity of Christianity in South Korea in contrast to other East Asian democracies will find some of the answers in this reading but learn much more as well about American–Korean relations.

“‘Give Me Blood, and I Will Give You Freedom’: Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose, and the Uses of Violence in India’s Independence Movement” by Thomas Lamont (vol. 19, no. 1, spring 2014)

Secondary school instructor Tommy Lamont authored one of the most utilized EAA archived articles through helping teachers and students understand that India’s independence struggle was much more complex than the commonly-held stereotype that independence was solely the product of peaceful protests.

“Using Victory in the Pacific in High School and College History Survey Courses” by Aaron Pickering (vol. 26, no. 2, fall 2021)

Any basic understanding of twentieth century Asia should include World War II in the Pacific. This PBS and ABC news two-hour documentary, narrated by Dan Rather and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf features ample primary source footage as well as interviews with both Americans and Japanese who survived the war.

“Learning from Truman’s Decision: The Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Surrender” by George P. Brown (vol. 11, no. 1, spring 2006) and “Thank God for the Atom Bomb?” by Richard Rice (vol. 11, no. 1, spring 2006)

The US decision to use atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is controversial among scholars and the most appropriate way to teach about the topic is to have students read and reflect upon creditable cases for and against the decision.

“Story of Hiroshima: Life of an Atomic Bomb Survivor” by Masaya Nemoto (vol. 20, no. 2, fall 2015)

There are many stories about Hibakusha (Japanese atomic bomb survivors), but this story epitomizes their experiences on August 6th, 1945 and long after that day.

“Framing Japan’s Constitution: An Interview with Colonel Charles L. Kades” Interview by Peter Frost ( vol. 1, no. 2, fall 1996) “Serving in the Occupation: An Interview with Wilton Dillon” Interview by Daniel A. Métraux ( vol. 17, no. 3, winter 2012)

The American Occupation of Japan resulted in intended and unintended consequences that still impact both nations today. These two primary source interviews feature the American lawyer most responsible for leading a small team that drafted what remains Japan’s post-war constitution, and a then-young man who worked as a civilian informational specialist in the Press, Publications, Civil Information, and Education Section of Supreme Commander (SCAP), General Douglas MacArthur.

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee. Reviewed by Mary Connor (vol. 26, no. 1, spring 2021)

Inspired by her mother’s escape from North Korea during the Korean War, the author tells the story of a twelve-year old girl and her eight-year old brother who escape North Korea. Brother’s Keeper was the winner in the 2020 Freeman Book Awards “Young Adult/Middle School” Category and is an outstanding resource for teachers and students in grades 6-9.

“China’s Great Leap Forward” by Clayton D. Brown (vol. 17, no. 3, winter 2012)

“China’s Great Leap Forward” by Clayton D. Brown remains the best introductory article on the background and consequences of Mao’s social and economic experiment that was a major reason for the man-made famine that resulted in approximately thirty million deaths. The author also created an online supplement that includes some excellent additional teaching resources on the Great Leap Forward.

“The History of Economic Development since Independence” by Nimish Adhia (vol. 20, no. 3, winter 2015)

A superb, basic introduction to India’s post-1949 economic evolution since independence. The author is an excellent economist and economic historian who uses lucid prose to help teachers and students understand economic policies and their intended and unintended consequences.

“The National Humiliation Narrative: Dealing with the Present by Fixating on the Past” by Mark Metcalf (vol. 25, no. 2, fall 2020)

The author helps instructors and students understand how a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government-enforced historical narrative that was established early in the Mao years continues to influence anti-colonialism rhetoric that CCP leaders use in attempting to shape Chinese public opinion about the contemporary West and Japan.

The 2015 Franklin R. Buchanan Award-winning My Cambodia and My Cambodian America (vol. 20, no. 3, winter 2015)

Curriculum Specialist Rylan Sekiguchi of the Stanford University Program on Intercultural and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) and independent filmmaker Risa Morimoto won the Franklin R. Buchanan Award in 2015, in part, for an 18-minute documentary, My Cambodia. Narrated by University of California Berkeley Professor Khatharya Um who escaped Cambodia when she was a middle school student, My Cambodia is a compelling introduction to the horrors of the Pol Pot regime. The online resource and a companion video My Cambodian America are available online with teacher’s guides for no charge.

“Leaving North Korea: My Story” by Anonymous (vol. 23, no. 2, fall 2018)

The author’s true account of her escape is an excellent, concise reading guaranteed to spark questions and discussions among all high school and beginning college and university students. The author recounts her desperate attempts to escape one of the most tyrannical, freedom-hating regimes in the world that took her to China, Việt Nam, Cambodia, and ultimately, with dramatic trials and tribulations, to South Korea. Her story, beginning when she was about twenty years old, makes the escape especially meaningful to high school students and undergraduates.

“Asia’s Missing Millions: How Policy and Social Pressure Made Millions of Women Disappear” by Lisa Jane de Gara (vol. 22, no. 3, winter 2017)

This factually-based, but riveting teaching resources essay begins with these two sentences: “In 1990, Nobel Prize-winning Indian economist Amartya Sen noticed something remarkable. By his count, there were approximately 100 “missing women” in Asia.”

“The Xinjiang Documentation Project” by Jakub Mscichowski and Remy Hellstern (vol. 26, no. 2, fall 2021)

The Chinese government action that has garnered the most world attention as a human rights issue is the forced internment of over one million Uyghurs in Xinjiang Province. This teaching resources project, emanating from collaborations of two Canadian universities offers excellent teaching resources on the forced internment.

Comparative Asia and the World Websites

Freedom House Annual Reports

Freedom House is a nonpartisan watchdog organization that researches and reports on a number of core thematic issues related to democracy, political rights and civil liberties. Freedom House assesses the condition of political rights and civil liberties around the world in its annual report Freedom in the World, on internet freedom in Freedom on the Net, and freedom of digital and print journalists and commentators in Freedom and the Media. Countries are rated from a 0-100 score in each of these reports in which a score of 0-39 is “Not Free,” 40-69 “Partly Free,” and 70-100 “Free.” Clicking any country on the map instantaneously provides its ranking and a succinct freedom report. Accessing “Countries and Territories” in the tool bar provides complete individual ranking and further information for 210 nations and polities.

The CIA World Factbook

The CIA’s World Factbook, produced for US policymakers and coordinated throughout the US Intelligence Community, presents the basic realities about the world in which we live and is widely utilized world-wide. A one-stop reference site, the World Factbook is updated continuously and is one of the US Government’s most visited sites with the most accurate known information for over 260 countries. Instructors and students can access written overviews and data on geography, people, and society (population, spoken languages, ethnic groups, religions, etc.), the environment, government, and economies, as well as military, security, and transnational issues.

The Council on Foreign Relations’ World 101

“East Asia and the Pacific”:
“South Asia and Central Asia”:

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for various individuals including educators and students in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the US and other countries. World 101, published by CFR, are teaching modules that include a library of free multimedia resources that are applicable to classrooms. In addition to the “East Asia and the Pacific” and “South and Central Asia” modules discussed here, World101 contains modules for the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Each World101 module includes a link to an interactive presentation on the region at the top of the page. Teachers and students should first watch the succinct overview video on the presentation pages before using the interactive. Supplemental PDF resources for classroom use are present on the module page including suggested lesson plans.

“East Asia and the Pacific” is a comparative resource comprising multiple lesson plans and multimedia resources. Users first visit a detailed interactive website with an introductory video to explore the modern history, people and society, politics, economics, geopolitics, and US foreign policy for multiple Northeast and Southeast Asia countries. Of note is the “Comparing and Contrasting” PDF lesson plan requiring students compare and contrast the similarities and differences between Northeast Asia and Southeast Asia after exploring the interactive on the World101 website.

Educators may also access “South and Central Asia.” This module contains a succinct overview video with a similar interactive on South and Central Asia along with a number of suggested PDF lesson plans. For example, in “Founding Speeches,” students analyze and compare speeches by Jawaharlal Nehru and Muhammad Ali Jinnah at the founding of independent India and Pakistan using reading questions. In “Policy Briefs,” students assume the role of advisors to the leader of a South or Central Asian country, read a scenario, and make a policy recommendation, and in “Population Density,” students compare and contrast the populations of South Asia and other countries using infographics.