Restoring Classic Films from Asia
Besides restoring made-in-Singapore films, the Asian Film Archive is also involved in the preservation of other seminal Asian works.
The Curious Visit of Qing Ambassadors to Singapore
The visit by Qing officials to Singapore in 1876 led to the establishment of the first Chinese consulate here a year later.
Interview with Rachel Heng, Author of The Great Reclamation
What does it take to write an internationally acclaimed historical novel set in Singapore?
The Early History of Printing in Singapore
Printing in Singapore dates back 200 years with the establishment of a press by Christian missionaries.
What’s Become of the Seafaring Orang Seletar?
The Orang Seletar used to live on boats that plied the Johor Strait. They were here when Raffles landed in 1819.
New Books on Singapore History (Oct 2023)
Introducing five new books available in the National Library’s collection.
Revisiting the Mystery of the Missing Gold Coins
Two ancient gold coins, probably from Aceh, were discovered in Singapore in the middle of the 19th century. Unfortunately, they disappeared a few decades later.
Coach Choo Seng Quee, A Giant of Singapore Football
Uncle Choo masterminded Singapore’s famous Malaysia Cup victory in 1977. Four decades after his death, we remember his many contributions to the sport.
Lest We Forget: Kranji War Cemetery
Librarian Janice Loo profiles those buried or memorialised at the Kranji War Cemetery, such as Lt Adnan of the Malay Regiment and civilian fighter Sim Chin Foo.
Forgotten Heroes of the Malaya Cup
We remember some legendary players of the interwar years who left an indelible mark on the local football scene.
The Famous Whale Skeleton at the Raffles Museum
A blue whale skeleton took centre stage at the former Raffles Museum for more than 60 years before it was gifted to the National Museum of Malaysia in 1974.
The Recording Industry in Singapore, 1903-1985
Singapore used to be a major recording centre in Southeast Asia, with over 10,000 local recordings made before 1960.
A Grand Piano's Chequered History
A grand piano that was to be the pride of Singapore failed to silence its critics. The odds, however, were always against it.
The Stories Behind the Shrines on Kusu Island
Researcher William L. Gibson undertakes a pilgrimage into the archives to uncover the history of the keramat on Kusu Island.
Panton Malaijoe dan Portugees: A Rediscovered Manuscript
A forgotten manuscript found in a Portuguese museum offers insights into the languages and traditions of a unique community in the Dutch East Indies.
The Mystery of Sarong Island
Librarian Lim Tin Seng rediscovers Singapore’s first island resort getaway and solves various mysteries surrounding it, including where Sarong Island is now.
The Bumpy Ride to Making Crash Helmets Mandatory
Crash helmets might save lives but getting people to wear them was an uphill task.
There’s more to firewalking than the public display of religious devotion.
Going Against the Grain: The “Eat More Wheat” Campaign
The call for Singaporeans to switch from eating rice to eating wheat in 1967 did not take root despite best efforts by the government.
Recreating a Recipe from the "Eat More Wheat" Campaign
What does a 1969 Chinese recipe for noodles have to do with a murukku press?
Stone Tools in Singapore
Stone tools have been found in and around Singapore since the late 19th century, but much about them remains a mystery.
From Singapore Dance Theatre to Singapore Ballet
As the history of the company shows, its new name is less about breaking away from the past as it is about leaping confidently into the future.
Malaya's Prewar Tennis Greats
Two tennis greats won 9 Malaya Cups and 12 Singapore Championships between them before the war. Who were they?
Collection Focus: A Comic Book Version of Operation Jaywick
The story of Operation Jaywick, a daring attack on Japanese ships at Keppel Harbour in September 1943, is retold in a comic aimed at boys.
Belacan: Caviar or Vile?
A beloved condiment in Southeast Asia, belacan has been called rank and disgusting. Learn about its long history.
32 Binjai Park: The Modernist Home of an Architect
The house that Lee Kip Lin built has stood the test of time, reflecting its simple yet modern and clean design.
The Forgotten Murals of Paya Lebar Airport
Three large murals used to grace the walls of Paya Lebar Airport, depicting scenes from Singapore and Malaysia. Only one is left.
New Books on Singapore History (Jul 2023)
Introducing five new books available in the National Library’s collection.
Taoist Folk Goddesses of Singapore
Award-winning writer Ng Yi-Sheng tells us about the legends and worship of local goddesses Maiden Lin, Maiden Lei and Maiden Huang.
Remembering Punggol’s Kampong Wak Sumang
Kampong Wak Sumang, one of Singapore’s earliest fishing villages, was purportedly founded by a warrior-diplomat whose musical abilities landed him in trouble.
Tok Sumang: A Translation
A story about Wak Sumang, a man of great wisdom and many talents, and the founder of Kampong Punggol.
My Grandfather Was a Rōmusha
During World War II, the Imperial Japanese Army used forced civilian labourers, known as rōmusha, to build the infamous Thai-Burma Railway.
Bridging Past and Present in Pasir Ris
Once dotted with plantations and mangrove swamps, Pasir Ris is today a bustling residential town with modern facilities and amenities.
The Singapore Record Industry in the 1960s
In this extract from the book From Keroncong to Xinyao, the author looks at why the record industry in Singapore took off in the 1960s.
Golden Mile Complex: Five Decades of an Architectural Icon
The collective sale and conservation of Golden Mile Complex will restore a visionary building designed for a “new look Singapore” 50 years ago.
Restoring Classic Singaporean Films
Money No Enough, Forever Fever and The Teenage Textbook Movie are prime candidates for restoration.
Muhammad Ariff Ahmad’s Hari Raya Puasa Greeting Cards
Unique greeting cards collected by a giant in the Malay literary scene. (From the National Library’s Blog on Medium).
New Books on Singapore History (Apr 2023)
A quick look at five new books available in the National Library’s collection.
A History of The Padang
Kevin Tan looks at what makes the 4.3-hectare patch of green in front of the former City Hall building so special.
Belacan: Caviar? Or Vile and Disgusting?
Fermented shrimp is a staple in many cuisines of Southeast Asia, though it takes some getting used to.
Which Was Singapore's First Courthouse?
Singapore’s former Parliament building, known today as The Arts House, was used as a courthouse from 1828 to 1939.
Terraces on Tagore: The Curious Origins of Teachers' Estate
The Singapore Teachers’ Union wanted a clubhouse. They ended up building a housing estate.
Portugal's Linguistic Legacy in Southeast Asia
While Portugal may not have had a large presence in this region, remnants of the Portuguese language continue to linger on, in some places more than others.
Neo Tiew: The Man Who Built Lim Chu Kang
The opening up of Lim Chu Kang owes much to the efforts of Neo Tiew, who helped clear the land and later became the headman of the area.
Singapore’s Public Bathhouses of the 1880s
Three public bathhouses at Ellenborough Market, Canton Street and Clyde Terrace were built by the Municipality in the late 19th century.
Women and the Typewriter in Singapore’s Herstories
The humble typewriter helped women become better educated, enter the workforce and contribute to society.
Khoo Hooi Hye, Lim Bong Soo and the Heyday of Malayan Tennis
Two remarkable athletes served up a storm to make Malaya a tennis power to contend with during the interwar years.
The Chinese Community During the Japanese Occupation
A showcase of items from the Chinese community relating to the Japanese Occupation. These are from the collection of the National Library of Singapore.
New Books on Singapore History
A quick look at four new books available in the National Library’s collection.
Singapore's Stone Tools
Stone tools have been found in and around Singapore since the late 19th century. Much about them remains a mystery.
In Their Own Voices: Preparing for War in Singapore
Before the fall of Singapore in 1942, people stocked up on food, built air raid shelters and volunteered in civil defence units.
Repairing and Restoring Singapore's Reel Heritage
The Asian Film Archive has been restoring old classics since 2014.
Maiden Lim and Her Sisters: Taoist Folk Goddesses of S'pore
The local Taoist pantheon includes goddesses only found in Singapore, such as Lin Guniang, Lei Niangniang and Huang Guniang.
The Origin Stories of Keramat Kusu
Pilgrimages to the keramat on Kusu Island have been going on since the mid-19th century.
“Book City” in Two Streets: Postwar Chinese Bookstore Scene
Some Chinese bookstores in Singapore have managed to survive despite the challenges of the digital age and the decline in Chinese readers.
A Voice for the Wild
A gentle giant with a larger than life personality, Subaraj Rajathurai helped to save Singapore’s green spaces.
Rituals behind Firewalking
More than just the firewalking festival, Theemithi has a cycle of rituals that involves the re-enactment of events from the Mahabharatam over several months.
Cold War Rivalries in Singapore in the 1940s and 1950s
In the post-World War II period, Singapore was a battleground for ideological competition between the Soviet Union and China, and the US and UK.
Loke Wan Tho: The Man Who Built Cathay
While best known as a giant in the movie business in Malaya, Loke Wan Tho was also passionate about bird photography and the arts
The Divine Lance: Thaipusam and Murugan Worship in Singapore
Thaipusam speaks of a migratory community that carries its deep-rooted cultural tradition wherever its people go.
From Sarong Island with Love
Before there was Sentosa, there was Sarong Island.
The Making of the Monetary Authority of Singapore
While the Monetary Authority of Singapore was established in 1971, it only became a full-fledged central bank some 30 years later.
The Early Days of Family Planning in Singapore
Singapore’s family planning programme did not start with the “Stop at Two” policy in 1972, but goes back even earlier to 1949.
Union Book Stands Tall At 70
Located in Bras Basah Complex, the Chinese bookstore has played an important role in the development of the Chinese literary scene.
Flower Power: Singapore’s Orchid Diplomacy
When Queen Elizabeth II visited Singapore in 1972, the orchid Dendrobium Elizabeth was named in her honour.
A Royal Wedding Gone Wrong
Celebrations during a royal wedding in Tanjung Pinang in 1819 led to a terrible misunderstanding that would change the course of history in Riau and Singapore.
The 1970s saw communist bombings, assassination plots and covert information wars.
Johor at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair
The story of how Johor ended up at the Chicago World’s Fair is an unexpected twist in Malaya’s colonial past.
Key Milestones in the History of Cathay Cinema
The closing of Cathay cinema at Handy Road, one of Singapore’s oldest cinemas, marks the end of an era.
Chinese Vegetarian Restaurants
Chinese Buddhist women set up popular vegetarian restaurants in the 1940s and '50s that met the needs of local Buddhists and also helped promote vegetarianism.
The National Library's collection has items from the Chinese community relating to the Japanese Occupation of Singapore.
A Great Way to Fly
Established in 1972, Singapore Airlines is known for its impeccable service standards and luxurious in-flight experiences.
Manmade Tunnels and Caverns Underground in the City State
Singapore has been burrowing underground since the 19th century, but it was only after Independence that serious efforts were made to use subterranean space.
A History of Sennett Estate
It was once Singapore’s largest planned housing development and saw action during Konfrontasi in the 1960s.
Japanese and Chinese Photo Studios in Prewar Singapore
Chinese and Japanese photography studios had to negotiate the politics of race, class and clan in the early 20th century.
Into the Night
Cabaret dancers like Rose Chan were famous. But what were their lives really like?
The Story of Singapore’s Changing Wet Markets
Wet markets have existed in Singapore since 1825. Zoe Yeo looks at how these markets have changed over time.
The Poet and the Night Train
He writes Singapore’s first book-length poem, then vanishes from history. Discover how the mystery of the missing poet was solved.