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Tibet Oral History Project

URGENT: Please Support Extraordinary Tibetan Lamas' Interviews

We just received permission to record the life stories of three highly revered Tibetan masters living in the Northwest, and two of them are women! In addition, the Tibetan community in Seattle is arranging for us to interview the oldest Tibetans living in the area.

At the Sakya Monastery in Seattle, we will have the honor of interviewing His Holiness Jigdal Dagchen Sakya Rinpoche, 85 years of age. His noble lineage extends back for over a thousand years. His immigration in 1960 makes him one of the first Tibetans-in-exile in North America.

Dagchen Rinpoche is married to Jamyang Dagmo Kusho, who is considered one of the few authentic female Lamas trained in Tibet and has a fascinating story of her own. We have been asked to interview this noble couple together so it will be quite a first for TOHP!

Then traveling north to British Columbia, we will videotape the oral history of Her Eminence Sakya Jetsun Chimey, the highest and most thoroughly trained female Buddhist teacher in the West. Born 76 years ago in Tibet, she began her dharma studies at age 5 and began teaching nomads at age 12. Her story will be quite an unusual given the unique experiences she has had among Tibetan women.

We would really welcome your help by November 1st to do this amazing documentation.


TOHP's team returned to the Bylakuppe Tibetan Settlement in India in late December 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.


"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 218 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 169 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



It was very exciting and a great honor for us to meet with Dr. Lobsang Sangay, Prime Minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, on August 23, 2013 during his visit to California. The Prime Minister thanked us for the work we are doing and expressed his appreciation for what we have accomplished. He then spoke of the value of the Tibetan elders' accounts to the younger generation of Tibetans, especially for those living as refugees in North America or Europe.



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.

TOHP Founder, Marcella Adamski, presents
interviews to His Holiness the Dalai Lama


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 already has sent a copy of the first set of 67 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'études himalayennes (Paris), Columbia University, Emory University, Harvard University, Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library, Northwest Tibetan Cultural Association, Oxford University, Rice University, Stanford University , Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, Tibetan Association of Northern California, Tibetan Canadian Cultural Center, Tibetan Community in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Tibetan Settlement of Bylakuppe (India), UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara

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

Sue Gershenson with Bylakuppe interviewee,
Dickey, and videographer, Tsewang Dorjee


The Tibet Oral History Project wishes to honor the memory of Sue Gershenson who passed away on October 25, 2011. We are deeply grateful to Sue for her contributions to TOHP as a member of the Board of Directors, coordinator for our first mission to Bylakuppe, interviewer of the Tibetan elders, and generous donor. Sue was proud and pleased to know her interviews will be preserved in the U.S. Library of Congress. We shall miss her indomitable spirit and always cherish her contributions to our work.

Read Sue's interviews: Dickey, Dawa Dolma