Early Java: an exhibition of material from the Rare Book Collection, Monash University Library, 9 June - 1 August 1993


Early Java: an exhibition of material from the Rare Book Collection, Monash University Library, 9 June - 1 August 1993



The exhibition was held in the Rare Books Exhibition space, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Monash University from 9 June - 1 August 1993. Since the foundation of Monash University in 1961, research on Indonesia has been a speciality of this University. Today, its contribution to Indonesian studies is recognized world-wide. With the growing interest in South-East Asia since World War II, major tertiary institutions in Australia began to assemble collections of material to support the academic study of the region's history. The early 1960s was a time when Australian scholars began to concentrate on Indonesian studies. This was in response to the need felt by many in the community to attempt to understand an Indonesia which seemed to be a mysterious, and even a threatening, neighbour. A team of young and enthusiastic Australians were attracted to teaching and researching Indonesia at the newly established Monash University. Scholars such as John Legge, Herbert Feith, J.A.C. Mackie, and many others, all played major roles in the establishment of courses of study in Indonesian politics, history, language, economics, anthropology and geography. Later, with the introduction of graduate studies and the founding of the Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, the Library began a systematic approach to building a collection to support both teaching and research. This must have been an exciting and rewarding project. Funds were readily available in the 1960s! With the inspired contribution of the late Mrs. Paulette (Bob) Muskens, Southeast Asian Studies Librarian between 1961 and 197 5, and guidance from a team of Indonesian specialists on campus, a large and comprehensive core collection was built-up. As well as this basic collection of English language material, a remarkable collection of Dutch East Indies publications, archival material, newspapers, journals, and books of early travel accounts in Southeast Asia were purchased. Some of this material is on display in this Exhibition. Over the years the collection has continued to develop with areas of special strength in history, language, literature, and politics. These strengths reflect the interests of those "Indonesianists" teaching and carrying out research at Monash. Today the Indonesian Collection is the only one of its kind in Victoria, and is one of the largest in Australia. Material is collected in many formats; books, manuscripts, pamphlets, serials, and microform. The collection attracts scholars from all over Australia; as well as from Indonesia and other parts of Asia. Since 1961 over seventy Masters and Ph.D. theses on Indonesia have been written at this University. While it is true that many academics have contributed towards establishing and maintaining the South-East Asian collection, with this Exhibition of Rare Books on Java, we would like to pay tribute to the contribution made by Professor Merle Ricklefs in guiding and encouraging the Library to build on the strengths of our Indonesian Collection. His special area of research is late seventeenth, early eighteenth century Java. Since coming to Monash in January 1980, he has been closely associated with the library staff in selecting new and antiquarian books on South-East Asia.








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Soemardjo, Helen et al., “Early Java: an exhibition of material from the Rare Book Collection, Monash University Library, 9 June - 1 August 1993,” Monash Collections Online, accessed June 17, 2024, https://repository.monash.edu/items/show/13215.

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