About the Exhibition

Documents, publications and photographs from Singapore's early days reveal fascinating insights into our history and culture. For instance, an 1819 document on the establishment of Malay College reveals how Raffles envisioned Singapore not just as a commercial hub but also as a centre for learning, culture and the arts.

Early literary works, religious tracts and dictionaries point to a thriving publishing industry in Singapore with printing presses run by English missionaries, Chinese literati and Muslim publishers. Cross-cultural exchanges, which have always been an element of Singapore society, gave rise to the first 'fusion' recipes in early cookbooks such as The Mem's Own Cookery Book, published in 1929. As Singapore came into its own, discussions and debates about the Singapore identity are reflected in early 20th century magazines and 1950s poetry.

Discover early Singapore from a fresh perspective through over 100 highlights from the National Library's collection of rare publications, manuscripts, documents, maps, photographs and more.

Exhibition Highlights

  • Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh
  • Foto Album Singapur
  • Cermin Mata Bagi Segala Orang Yang Menuntut
  • Munajathu Thirattu
  • Haji's Book of Malayan Nursery Rhymes
  • The Mem's Own Cookery Book

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Exhibition Guide
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Activity Booklet
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Size: 6.8 MB Download