East Asia Library launches Tibet Oral History Project online exhibit

October 4, 2021
Joshua Capitanio

The East Asia Library has launched an online exhibit for the Tibet Oral History Project, a collection of over three hundred video interviews with Tibetan refugees.

The Tibet Oral History Project was created by Dr. Marcella Adamski in 2003 with the goal of documenting the accounts of elder Tibetans living in exile who had experienced life in Tibet before, during, and after the imposition of Communist rule by the People's Republic of China in 1951. The project was inspired by a suggestion from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who believed that it was important to preserve these elders' stories of their experiences in pre-Communist Tibet and their subsequent lives under Chinese governance. Dr. Adamski and her team of volunteers conducted over three hundred interviews between 2007 and 2017. Subjects were interviewed in various locations within North America such as the San Francisco Bay Area; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Santa Fe, NM; and British Columbia, Canada; and in Tibetan refugee communities in the Indian cities of Bir, Bylakuppe, Clement Town, Dharamsala, Hunsur, Manduwala, Mundgod, Puruwala, Rajpur, Sahastradhara, and Tashi Jong, and the cities of Kathmandu, Pokhara, and Tanahun in Nepal. All interviews were conducted with English interpreters present, and were subsequently transcribed into English. These PDF transcripts are also included within the collection.

This online exhibit was built with Spotlight, a platform developed at Stanford Libraries for showcasing digital content. It allows users to browse the videos in the Tibet Oral History Project collection by topic and region, and to filter the videos according to the over seventy keywords that the Tibet Oral History Project team used to tag the videos. 

The interviews that comprise the Tibet Oral History Project were conducted, produced, translated, and transcribed by a team of volunteers. The following individuals contributed their efforts to this project:

Interviewers: Marcella Adamski, Rebecca Novick, Martin Newman, Sue Gershenson, Hilary Kaiser, Katharine Davies Samway

Videographers: Jeff Lodas, Ronny Novick, Tsewang Dorjee, Kerry Rose, Pema Tashi, Jeddadiah Emanual, Tony Sondag, Tomas Haywood, Dhiraj Kafle, Henry Tenenbaum, Tenzin Choenyi

Interpreters: Tenzin Yangchen, Tsering Dorjee, Lhakpa Tsering, Tashi Chodron, Namgyal Tsering, Thupten Kelsang Dakpa, Tashi Wangchuk, Nyima Tsam, Tenzin Tsedup Wangdu, Kalden Norbu, Sonam Ngodup, Tashi Juchungtsan, Tenzin Sherab, Jamyang D. Sakya, Khenrab Palden, Palden Tsering, Kunga Choeden

Metadata: Jennifer O'Boyle

The collection was donated to Stanford Libraries in 2018. Joshua Capitanio from the East Asia Library worked with the Tibet Oral History Project administrators to facilitate the receipt and processing of the collection. Members of the Stanford Libraries' Digital Library Systems and Services group were instrumental in the processing efforts, which were supervised by Digitization Services Manager Dinah Handel. Geoff Willard, Media Production Coordinator, and Michael Angeletti, Moving Image Digitization Specialist, assisted with the processing and accession of the video files at the Stanford Media Preservation Lab. Metadata Management Librarian Jessica Cebra and Metadata Coordinator Arcadia Falcone worked on the descriptive metadata. Catherine Aster, Services Manager for the Spotlight exhibits platform, provided training and assistance in the creation of this exhibit.