The Tharchin Collection
Columbia University Libraries is pleased to establish the Tharchin Collection, dedicated to the memory of Gegen Dorje Tharchin (1890-1976), also known as “Tharchin Babu.” As founder of the Tibet Mirror Press in Kalimpong, India, Gegen Dorje Tharchin was the renowned editor of the Tibet Mirror and many other Tibetan-language publications which circulated among Tibetan readers on both sides of the Himalayas, and as far as New York, from the early 1920s through the late 1960s. For more information on this important and inspiring intellectual, as well as his contributions to Tibetan thought and publishing, please see the introductory article by Dr. Paul G. Hackett and other Related Resources listed below.
The Tibet Mirror
The Tibet Mirror (Tib. Yul phyogs so so'i gsar 'gyur me long) was published from 1925 to 1963 in Kalimpong, and chronicles the most dramatic social and political transformation to have occurred in Tibet during a time when vernacular writing was relatively scarce, and a Tibetan media practically non-existent. The paper also relayed information about World War II, the independence of India, and other global news to Tibetan readers in Lhasa, Gyantse, Kham, etc., and to traders and aristocrats who frequently traveled from Lhasa via the Chumbi Valley to Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Calcutta.
In 2007, Paul G. Hackett (Ph.D., Religious Studies, Columbia University) and Christina Harris (Ph.D., Cultural Anthropology, City University of New York) donated to the C. V. Starr East Asian Library a total of 97 unique issues of the Tibet Mirror on behalf of the Tharchin Family. These issues, representing nearly 30% of the paper's full run, were microfilmed and digitally scanned for online public access by the Columbia University Libraries' Preservation Department and Digital Programs Division.
With subsequent and generous contributions by the Beineicke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, as well as the Institute of Tibetan Studies at the Collège de France and the Musée Guimet, 70% of the newspaper's full run is now available online via the Libraries' Digital Collections. Drawing on extensive research by Paul Hackett who earlier determined the location worldwide of all extant issues of the paper, the Starr Library has subsequently reached out to library counterparts in India with the hope of providing a comprehensive run in the next couple of years.
The cornerstone of the Tharchin Collection is comprised of the newspaper holdings and their digital presentation. We are deeply grateful to the editor’s late grandson, Mr. David Tharchin, who offered these papers and granted permission to Columbia University to make this valuable resource available for public access on behalf of the Tharchin Family. It is hoped that other individuals or institutions with complementary holdings of the Tibet Mirror would consider providing these on loan for the purpose of one day providing a complete online digital library.
In September 2008, with the added acquisition of papers, publications, artifacts, subscription lists, and other materials once belonging to Gegen Dorje Tharchin, the C. V. Starr East Asian Library decided to launch the Tharchin Collection, comprising the newspaper holdings and this unique archival material. The Library is especially grateful to the Tharchin Family of Kalimpong, India for making these research materials available. We are also grateful to Dr. Paul Hackett whose initial contact with the Tharchin Family and contribution inspired this archive; Dr. Isrun Engelhardt (see her article below) for her expertise and for hand-delivering many items at her own expense; and to Herbert Fader who contributed many of his own research papers, and several original materials.
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