Malaysia Projects

Early Imprints from Southeast Asia

Western-style printing was introduced to most of Southeast Asia only about two centuries ago. These printed works were produced initially by Western missionaries and subsequently by locals as well. Most early printed works were therefore related to Christian religious teachings and activities, before spreading to other areas. In Burma the imprints included Buddhist texts. Some of the books include detailed illustrations, which add to their appeal.
The British Library holds unique collections of these early imprints from the region. In 2007 TICFIA demonstrated its willingness to give a grant to digitize these early printed works, but it was not until February 2009 that a contract to digitize parts of this valuable collection was signed between Northern Illinois University, as the representative of TICFIA, and the British Library. This collaboration has made possible wider public access to these historic and unique documents.

Materials digitized under this project:


Jawi Transliteration Project

Welcome to the Jawi Transliteration Project, a Jawi printed text newspaper archive consisting of 2,000 Jawi-script newspaper and magazine articles published between 1930-1941 in the Straits Settlements and the Malay Peninsula, transliterated into romanised Malay, and presented in a fully searchable format.

During the period from 1930-41, there were at least 110 Malay language newspapers published throughout the Straits Settlements and the Malay Peninsula. The Jawi Transliteration Project focuses on four newspapers: Warta Malaya (published in Singapore), Majlis (Kuala Lumpur), Saudara (Penang) and Majalah Guru (Negri Sembilan). These publications had a strong readership among the Malays that makes them ideal for studying Malay aspirations and intellectual thought. They also represented different geographic centres of Malay intellectual thought, being staffed by the leading Malay ideologues of the day whose vision for Malay society would become the basis for post-colonial societies in British Malaya and the formation of an epistemic community that actively participated in contesting and negotiating different visions of the Malay future.

The selection of Malay newspaper editorials and Letters to the Editor will provide scholars a prism to better understand the complex and dynamic changes taking place in Malay society, and more significantly, challenge the current historiography of an elite-driven nationalism and an elite-formulated nationalism. While the elite view is manifested in the Malay editorials, we contend that the ordinary Malay participated in shaping and transforming some of the views put into the public domain by the elites through the Letters to the Editor. There was constant contestation, negotiation and re-negotiation of elite discourses in the public sphere to form a common vision or, more often than not, a compromise vision of the Malay future.

This project mined raw texts for historical content to provide scholars with a large amount of new data using postmodern methodologies to extract more from these sources.

The four periodicals selected for this transliteration project are:

  • Majalah Guru, a monthly magazine for teachers. It was published in Negri Sembilan between 1924-1932, in Kuala Lumpur between 1932-1938, and in Penang between 1939-1941. The transliterated articles in this database span the period November 1930 to December 1935. See the list of articles in the repository.
  • Majlis, a newspaper based in Kuala Lumpur, was published twice weekly from January 1932 to January 1935, and the frequency increased to thrice weekly from January 1935 to 1939. From 1939 to December 1941, Majlis was a daily newspaper. The transliterated articles in this database span the period January 1932 to December 1940. See the list of articles in the repository.
  • Saudara was a weekly newspaper based in Penang from September 1928 to January 1932. Thereafter it was published twice weekly from Jan 1932 to 1941. The transliterated articles in this database span the period1930-1940. See the list of articles in the repository.
  • Warta Malaya was published in Singapore as a daily newspaper between November 1930 to December 1941. The transliterated articles in this database span the period 1930-1941. See the list of articles in the repository.

National University of Singapore Library, National Library of Singapore, National Archives of Malaysia (Arkib Negara), National Library of Australia, Australian National University and Monash University Library.

Principal Investigators:
Mark Emmanuel, National University of Singapore
Timothy P. Barnard, National University of Singapore

Project Team:
Maryam Abdul Malek
Hoe Yu Ying
Guay Ee Ling
Yeap Mei Yi
Hurul Ain Muhammad Reni
Fairus Jasmin
Muhamad Yusri Mohamed Supiyan
Nuriahtu Farhati Mohamed Ali
Raimy Che Ros (Transliterator)
Yon Machmudi (Transliterator)

Note on Transliterations
Modern spellings of Malay words are used throughout this work even though the spellings varied in the originals. The Jawi-texts have been transliterated according to this modern spelling. For instance, Majalah Guru is used rather than the original Majallah Guru. Arabic names and word that appear in these Jawi texts have been reproduced here without the diacritical markings. The exception has been the spelling of names of authors. They appear as listed in the sources to avoid any confusion during bibliographic searches. Hence, some authors may be listed as Mohd or Mohammad rather than Muhammad, which is the more commonly used form today in Malaysia.

If there are any errors in the transliteration, please let us know and we will fix it. You can contact Mark Emmanuel at

Materials digitized under this project:


National University of Malaysia

Materials digitized under this project: