Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Finding Aid to the Theos Bernard Papers, 1884-1998, bulk 1935-1947
BANC MSS 2005/161 z  
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (146.39 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Theos Bernard papers
    Date (inclusive): 1884-1998,
    Date (bulk): , bulk 1935-1947
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 2005/161 z
    Creator: Bernard, Theos, 1908-
    Extent: Number of containers: 10 cartons, 11 boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 3 volumes, 4 oversize folders Linear feet: Approximately 18
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: The Theos Bernard papers, 1884-1998 (bulk 1935-1947), document Bernard's interest in yoga and Tibetan tantric philosophy. Contains photographs, personal and professional correspondence, writings, lectures and interviews, research materials, notes, newspaper clippings, and family materials.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Hindi and Bengali
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research, with the following exceptions:
    Volume 3 is restricted because of fragility.
    Box 4: Restricted due to handling and transportation hazards. UNAVAILABLE FOR USE.
    Box 3: Available by appointment only. Advance notice required for use. Direct inquiries in writing, to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or reproduce must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Theos Bernard Papers, BANC MSS 2005/161 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Separated Material

    Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Bernard, Theos, 1908--Archives
    Tantric Buddhism--China--Tibet--History
    Tibet (China)--History--20th century
    Theos C. Bernard-G. Eleanore Murray collection and archive

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Theos Bernard Papers were transferred to The Bancroft Library from the East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley, in 2003. Photographs were transferred from the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology to The Bancroft Library in April 2006.


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Paul G. Hackett.

    Biographical Information

    Theos Casimir Bernard (1908-1947)
    Explorer and Scholar of Religion
    MA 1936, PhD 1943
    Prior to the existence of a religion department, Theos Bernard pioneered Indian and Tibetan studies at Columbia University. As an explorer, Bernard was only the third American to ever set foot in Lhasa, Tibet, returning from his first expedition in 1937 with hundreds of volumes of books, film footage, and still photographs. The first American to be initiated into the rites of Tibetan Buddhism, Bernard published several accounts of the theory and practice of the religions of India and Tibet, including his PhD dissertation on hatha yoga. The founder of the first Tibetan Buddhist research institute in America, Bernard compiled a Tibetan grammar and plan for the systematic translation of Indian and Tibetan literature into English.
    Born on December 10, 1908, in Los Angeles, Theos Bernard graduated from the University of Arizona first in 1931 with a LLB (Bachelor of Law) degree and again in 1934 with a BA degree prior to entering Columbia University in that same year. Receiving an MA in philosophy in 1936, Bernard embarked on an expedition first to India and then to Tibet. Over the course of 16 months Bernard studied and learned both literary and spoken Tibetan, negotiated the acquisition of a complete set of the Tibetan Buddhist canon and other books, participated in some of the highest religious rituals in Tibet, and met with senior Tibetan lamas and officials, all the while documenting his experiences on paper, in photographs, and on film. Upon returning to New York in 1937, Bernard wrote and published several books both chronicling his experiences and setting forth the fundamental principles of Indian and Tibetan philosophies. In 1942, he entered Columbia University for a second time to pursue his PhD. Completed less than a year later, his dissertation Hatha Yoga: The Report of a Personal Experience, was subsequently published and served to introduce the practices of yoga to an American audience. He went on to found the short-lived Tibetan Text Society in Santa Barbara, California, prior to returning to the Indian subcontinent in search of additional resources. In 1947, Bernard launched a second expedition into the Himalayas, this time to Spiti, and entered the Punjab in 1947. He was never seen again.
    (Excerpted from a forthcoming article by Paul G. Hackett, http://c250.columbia.edu/c250_celebrates/remarkable_columbians/theos_casimir_bernard.html)

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Theos Bernard papers, 1884-1998 (bulk 1935-1947), document Bernard's interest in yoga and Tibetan tantric philosophy. Contains photographs, personal and professional correspondence, writings, lectures and interviews, research materials, notes, newspaper clippings, and family materials.