Fonds RBSC-ARC-1554 - Trans-Himalayan Aid Society fonds

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Trans-Himalayan Aid Society fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the provenance of the fonds.

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Physical description area

Physical description

4.78 m of textual and other material.
ca. 463 photographs.
1 film reel.

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Archival description area

Name of creator

Administrative history

The Trans-Himalayan Aid Society (TRAS), formerly the Tibetan Refugee Aid Society, is a not-for-profit international development organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia. TRAS was founded by author George Woodcock and his wife and Inge after they visited India and met His Holiness, the Dalai Lama in the 1960s. TRAS became an official Society of British Columbia in 1962.
Originally, TRAS operated under the following administrative structure. The position of Chairman was a honourary appointment. The Vice-Chairman was responsible for administration including the general running of the entire operation. There was also a Board of Directors which conferred with the Vice-Chairman on all aspects of the running of the Society. All of these persons were volunteers. Professor George Woodcock was the Vice-Chairman of TRAS from 1962-1970. Professor John Conway was then Vice-Chairman from 1971-1981. When Professor Conway resigned from the position of Vice-Chairman, the Society decided that the office work was too much for volunteers and a professional secretary was hired to run the office. The name of the Society was officially changed on May 14, 1990 to the Trans-Himalayan Aid Society. The original acronym, TRAS, remained the same.
In 1970, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) agreed to provide the organization with matching funds. Realizing that Tibetan refugees would not be leaving India anytime soon, TRAS expanded its scope of activities to help adults and children cope on a longer-term basis. As Tibetan settlements reached self-sufficiency the organization extended its reach into the trans-Himalayan region. TRAS works with partner agencies and individuals in India, Nepal, and Tibet to identify communities in need. Proposals come from partner organizations to TRAS’ Board of Directors. The Board of Directors decides which projects to raise and distribute funds for; funds are raised through individual donations and fundraising events. Partners are responsible for implementing their own projects. Areas of work include: education campaigns; building settlements, schools and homes for children and elderly; vocational training; environmental, agricultural and health programs; and the preservation of arts and culture.
Trans-Himalayan Aid Society. (accessed March 13, 2010).

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records generated by TRAS in the course of raising funds for, and administering funds to, overseas partners. The fonds is organized into the following series: administrative records (1962-1990) and project records (1964-1997). The film “Initiation of a Dalai Lama” was brought to UBC by John Conway in May 1988 to be deposited with the records of TRAS. Documentation from 1970 with the film suggests the film was borrowed from UBC Audio-Visual Services Extension Department by Dr. Shotaro Iida for use by the Dalai Lama.

Notes area

Physical condition

Majority of early records remain in original file folders. Paper clips have been removed however staples and other fasteners are still affixed to most records. Wherever possible, photographs were transferred into photo-safe envelopes. Some photographs are glued to paper and/or affixed with staples.

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were transferred to the University of British Columbia Library’s Special Collections Division once a year (more or less) between 1971-1981 by then Vice-Chairman J. Conway on behalf of the Society. In June 1989, six boxes were received by Special Collections, presumably from the Society’s office administrator at that time. In 1992 a further transfer was made by office administrator Carolyn J. Mungall.


According to documentation from the original finding aid, records accessioned in June 1989 that fit the pattern of the earlier accessions of 1974-1981 were physically ordered following that pattern. The order of the material from the June 1989 accession which did not fit the file-system of those early accessions was physically left according to the order in which it arrived at Special Collections.

Language of material

  • English

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Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Publication of the material is permitted according to copyright rules. Any photocopying is to be done by Rare Books and Special Collections staff. See sub-series descriptions for further content restrictions.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Finding aids

Inventory available.
Photographs from original accession and accruals prior to 2018 accrual are interfiled with textual records. Photographs that are part of the April 2018 accrual have been assigned the following identifiers: RBSC-ARC-1554-PH-01 to PH-76.
Ca. 334 photographs from original accession and accruals prior to 2018 accrual.
Negatives processed as part of the July 2018 accrual assigned identifiers: RBSC-ARC-1554-PH-77 to PH-130.

Associated materials

See also Alan Twigg fonds at Rare Books and Special Collections, and the John Conway fonds at University Archives.

Related materials


Further accruals are expected.

General note

Original 1991 finding aid is available for consultation upon request.

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Description extended by Georg Gaenser in April 2018.
Accrual from Alan Twigg processed by Stuart Hill, July 2018.
Finding aid updated by Ashlynn Prasad in July 2019.

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