Hidden American Collections of Tibetan Materials


The extensive Tibetan literature in American collections was collected over the past century and a half by explorers, missionaries, diplomats, and scholars. Because Tibetan literature was largely copied and published in woodblock prints and loose-leaf collections, many of the texts in a collection are incomplete. Pages of a single manuscript volume may be distributed across several libraries, for example at Yale and the Newark Museum. By cataloging these collections, TBRC hopes to recompile these collections through the facilities of the web, making them available for the first time to scholars and Tibetans worldwide. The Works at the Library of Congress, comprising more than 3,000 volumes, came to the library from the consul William Woodville Rockhill, Berthold Laufer, Joseph Rock, Matthew Kapstein, and Tshering Thar during the period 1899-1996. Due to their relative obscurity inside the Library of Congress, the exact contents of these texts are little known, but the subjects covered include philosophy, medicine, art, psychology, alchemy, astrology, poetics, and history. They include rare and important examples that should ideally be incorporated into the larger digital library TBRC is developing. Apart from their intrinsic value to the Tibetan literary heritage, the extensive writing of Tibetan masters has significance to a much wider historical, literary and philosophical audience and will benefit scholarship in a wide variety of discplines.


Cataloging Hidden Collections

Amount Awarded

Year Added





  • Jeffrey Wallman

Collection Size

1868 linear feet, 3000 objects

Date Range

1200 - 1959

Geographic Scope

Collection materials originate in Tibet, India, China and Mongolia.