This issue of Focus highlights efforts under the organizational umbrella of the Center for Research Libraries to preserve and make available critical historical evidence and cultural production from Southeast Asia. These efforts rely upon the talent and energy of Southeast Asia historians and specialists at several North American universities, in particular the University of Washington, Cornell University, and Yale University. Working with the Southeast Asia Microform Project (SEAM) based at the Center, these specialists, identify the at-risk archives and critical documents of the turbulent recent histories of Cambodia, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, Java, the Philippines, and other nations in the region. They then lead efforts to preserve those materials. The Khmer Rouge Archives and thousands of Viet Namese newspapers from the late colonial and revolutionary periods are being preserved in this way.
The Center also acquires important archives of documentary materials that shed light on the region. Recently the Center acquired microfilm of the Viet Nam-era files of Great Britain's Foreign Office. These disclose the U.S. political and diplomatic activities that had such a great impact on the course of Viet Nam's history during the 1960s and 70s.
The Center ensures the broad availability of the archived materials to an international constituency of scholars. With the impending trials of the leaders of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, we are reminded that there are often many communities that have a stake in the survival of these kinds of historical evidence. They are indebted to individuals like Judith Henchy at the University of Washington and Richard Richie at Yale, and to the university members of the Center for Research Libraries and Area Microform Projects for ensuring the long-term availability of valuable evidence.