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Tibet Oral History Project


The Tibet Oral History Project's team travelled to Nepal in April to record the life stories of some of the most aged Tibetans still with us. Our team followed a rigorous schedule in order to complete 52 interviews of Tibetan elders residing in Nepal.

We were very saddened to receive the news about the tragic earthquake in Nepal that occurred on April 25th just a few days after we recorded these stories for posterity. All of our team members are safe and we believe that the 52 elders whom we interviewed in Kathmandu and Pokhara are also well.

During their interviews, many of the exiled Tibetan elders living in Nepal gave detailed descriptions of what one nomad called “an extremely happy life.” The majority of the elders had been nomads, semi-nomads and farmers in Tibet. One elder noted, that “nomadic life was hard, but we had freedom.” The elders bravely recalled painful and frightening experiences of how the Chinese shelled and invaded their nomadic lands. These accounts provide an indisputable historical record of what happened to them and their families in Tibet. 

Thank you to everyone who contributed to make this crucial work possible while there is still time to preserve the elders' stories! Additional support is still needed for us to distribute these 52 new oral histories worldwide.


"Tibet Oral History Project: Tibet
Remembered" [Length: 6min 50sec]

"With My Own Eyes: Eyewitness Accounts
from Tibet's Elders" [Length: 30min 35sec]


TOHP has videotaped the oral histories of 278 Tibetan elders living in exile. This oral history collection is invaluable. It provides intimate portraits of the elders - the last generation to live in a free, unoccupied Tibet - and preserves for future generations the memories of their homeland.

The oral histories of 184 Tibetan elders are posted on the Interviews pages and 45 short videos with interview excerpts are available on TOHP's YouTube Channel. The elders provide eyewitness accounts of early life in Tibet, and of the devastation that followed the Chinese invasion and occupation. They also recount memories of their flight from Tibet to escape oppression and to follow their spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, into exile.

"The cause of Tibet is helped by every individual story and together they paint the true history of Tibet."
- Marcella Adamski, TOHP's founder



TOHP's team returned to the Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement in India in December of 2013 and conducted 25 additional interviews. The oral histories we videotaped included Venerable Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, the former Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile and several other senior monastic leaders. We also presented to His Holiness the Dalai Lama 53 interview transcripts and DVDs from our collection. His Holiness expressed warm appreciation and took one of the volumes of interviews to hold while posing for a group photo. It was a powerful visual endorsement.



On November 13, 2012 President of TOHP's Board of Directors, Faye Straus, hand delivered the first set of TOHP's oral history collection to the largest library in the world, the U.S. Library of Congress. This milestone event for the Project enabled TOHP to permanently archive 67 interviews with Tibetan elders in the Library's Asian Division. In 2014 we submitted an additional 102 interviews to the archive.

TOHP Founder, Marcella Adamski, met with
Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister of the
Tibetan government-in-exile during
his visit to California in 2013.


The Tibet Oral History Project (TOHP) is honored to have received letters of endorsement from the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Speaker of Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, and the Kashag (Cabinet). The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote:

His Holiness is pleased that the Tibet Oral History Project is making good progress. Your recording the life stories of elder Tibetans has much importance in preserving the reality of the situation in Tibet as experienced by these Tibetans.
Penpa Tsering, Speaker, Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile:
The Tibet Oral History Project is a very significant undertaking to record actual historical events of Tibet from an individual's perspective at the worst period of Tibetan history. The project needs to be intensified as the older generations are fast disappearing....
Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister):
I am particularly impressed with [TOHP's] efforts of translating these interviews in Chinese language so that Chinese citizens who are deprived of correct information can understand the true stories of Tibetan people and appreciate their culture and the cause the Tibetan people are fighting for. Similarly it will also bring benefits to the younger generation of Tibetans, primarily who are born and brought up in exile. Therefore, I welcome and support this project.

TOHP Director, Marcella Adamski,
and Outreach Director, Tenzin Yangchen,
give a set of interviews to the Private Office of His
Holiness, which were received by his Secretary

Marcella Adamski presents the interview collection
to Venerable Geshe Lhakdor, Director of the
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives
in Dharamsala, India




TOHP sent a copy of the first two sets of 67 and 102 interviews to the following communities and archives:

US Library of Congress, Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (India), Bibliothèque universitaire des langues et civilisations (Paris), Centre d'etudes himalayennes (France), Chushi Gangdrug office (Delhi, India), Columbia University, C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Emory University - Woodruff Library, Harvard University, Western-Languages Collection, Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library, Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association (Portland, OR), Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (Dharamsala, India), Oxford University - Bodleian Tibetan Collection, Rice University – Fondren Library, Stanford University – East Asia Library, Tibetan Alliance of Chicago, Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, Tibetan Association of Northern California, Tibetan Canadian Cultural Center/ Canadian Tibetan Assoc. of Ontario, Tibetan Children's Village (Bylakuppe, India), Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Tibetan Government Dept. of Information and International Relations (Dharamsala, India), UC Berkeley – East Asian Library, UC Santa Barbara - Davidson Library, University of Virginia – Tibetan Collection, Alderman Library, Tibet Religious Foundation of H.H. the Dalai Lama, Taiwan

Each location receives a set of video DVDs and English transcripts. Please contact us if you would like to recommend other organizations to receive our interview collection or if you can help with the cost of printing and distributing to libraries and Tibetan communities.


The following are some of the organizations endorsing the work of TOHP. Read their statements of support on the About Us page.
Library of Tibetan Works and Archives * Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama * International Campaign for Tibet * International Tibet Support Network * Tibet Justice Center * Committee of 100 for Tibet * Canada Tibet Committee Ottawa * Tibetan Nuns Project * Tibetan Dickey Larsoe Settlement * Tibetan Youth Congress Bylakuppe * The Tibetan Co-operative Society Ltd., Bylakuppe * Lugsam Samdupling Tibetan Settlement * Doeguling Tibetan Settlement * Regional Tibetan Women's Association Bylakuppe * The Tibetan Service Co-Op Bank, Ltd., Mundgod * Gyuto Vajrayana Center, San Jose