Education About Asia: Online Archives

Web Gleanings: US, Asia, and the World: 1620–1914

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photo of a world map and chinese text
Image from the Library of Congress, A Wider World, II: How Rome Went to China web page at


East is East, West is West: the origin of medical missions to Asia
Richard V. Lee wrote this article in 2009 for the journal Asian Biomedicine. The article traces the history of Western medical missions beginning in the thirteenth century, but focuses on the centuries following the Renaissance in Europe and the colonization of America when there were great advances in the knowledge of anatomy and how to utilize a variety of drugs and medicines.

Decay or Defeat? An Inquiry into the Portuguese Decline in Asia 1580–1645
Although published in Holland by Leiden University, this thesis is in English. As noted in the title, the document deals with the years in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. In addition to the Portuguese role in Asia in those years, there are also extensive materials about the Dutch in Asia.

Asian Times Book Review: Of Chinese Pirate Kings and Dutch Traders
This is a review of just two books, but in the discussion of the virtues of these books, the reviewer describes the activities of the leaders of seventeenth-century China and the relationship of several Asian countries with the West.

A Short History of South East Asia
The Aerospace Computing Laboratory at Stanford University has “Short Histories” of several countries, ranging from Egypt to Wales. Chapters five through nine of this history cover the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries in Southeast Asia and the arrival of Europeans.

Americans in Eastern Asia
The focus of this book, published in 1922, is on the relations between the United States and Korea, China, and Japan in the nineteenth century. The author relies greatly on Consular correspondence, but also refers to books and articles written in the last half of the nineteenth century.

Trading Places
This is part of the British Library’s Learning Series. It explores the history of the East India Company, principally in India, but also trading with China and markets in Java and Sumatra. There is a timeline of the company’s history beginning in 1600, the year the company was founded, and ending in 1833, when its trading days ended.

The Dutch East Indies Company—The First 100 Years
The Dutch East Indies Company—The Second 100 Years
These two remarkable lectures of the history of the Dutch East India Company given at Gresham College in the UK are available in their entirety on the web. Not only did the Company bring wealth to the Netherlands, but due to its vast scope, one sees the relations with other European states and with many Asian nations from the present Indonesia to Malaya, China, and Japan. In addition to the videos for these lectures, one can listen to an audio version and download and print transcripts for both lectures.


Early American Trade with China
This is a teaching unit about the beginnings of international trade in the United States after the Revolutionary War. The establishment of trade with China is one of the primary topics of these lessons. Lesson plans, maps, graphs, and other resources for teachers are included.

America Views China
The short excerpts from this book, which is a compilation of essays by several authors, recount the way Americans have viewed China for more than two centuries, beginning with the voyage of the Empress of China in 1784. These excerpts may whet the appetite of some to read the entire book.

How Rome Went to China
The Library of Congress put together an exhibit of some of the holdings of the Vatican, including these that pertain to the missionaries to China. Most of the documents and maps are from the seventeenth century. At the bottom of the page is a link to an additional exhibit of similar documents titled “Jesuits in China.”

Documents on Anti-Chinese Immigration Policy
There are two documents here: the Chinese Exclusion Treaty of 1880 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of May 6, 1882. Congress passed these acts because “the coming of Chinese laborers to this country endangers the good order of certain localities within the territory.”


Digital South Asia Library: Oudh Punch. A Selection from the Illustrations that Have Appeared in the Oudh Punch from 1877 to 1881
This highly unusual site provides more information than appears at first glance. The introduction alone offers opinions from a Westerner on the Indian sense of humor, popular literature, and the vagaries of publishing a journal like Oudh Punch.

book cover for Raj: the making and understanding of british india by lawrence James

When East Fought West
This is a brief summary and analysis of the uprising against the British in India in the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. The reasons for the actions in 1857 are compared to the circumstances of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2007, when the article was written.

Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India
The history of the British in India beginning in 1740 is available in part in this Google Books format. The first chapter in particular gives specifics and details of the battles and sieges during the initial years of the British in India.


Nagasaki/Deshima after the Portuguese in Dutch Accounts of the 17th Century
This article from the Bulletin of Japanese/Portuguese Studies was published in 2003. It looks at the image of Japan as portrayed in seventeenth-century texts, written after the expulsion of the Portuguese.

Japanese-American Diplomacy—Treaty of Kanagawa
The Avalon Project at Ya le publishes original documents in law, history, and diplomacy. This document provides the twelve articles of the Treaty of Kanagawa of March 31, 1854, between the United States and Japan.

Commodore Perry’s Expedition to Japan
From Cornell’s Digital Library, we find the utterly fascinating account of Perry in Japan in two issues of Harper’s Magazine. It begins with the first visit and continues with descriptions of temples, furniture, architecture, clothing, the “monstrous” (like elephants) professional wrestlers, food and banquets, and Japan’s geography and vegetation, much of it accompanied by illustrations.