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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0402 EE
Held at: Royal Geographical Society
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Date(s): 1918-present day
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 150+ Boxes
Name of creator(s): Mount Everest Committee
Joint Himalayan Committee
Mount Everest Foundation


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1918 the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) put forward to the Secretary of State for India proposals for a preliminary expedition to Mount Everest. Initialy refused, the Tibetan Government finally gave permission for a British expedtion to proceed into Tibet in 1921. The RGS and the Alpine Club formed the Mount Everest Committee to co-ordinate and finance the 1921 British Reconnaissance Expedition to Mount Everest, this included raising funds, selecting expedition personnel, buying stores and equipment, carrying out surveys, arranging transport and communication and organising publicity, lectures and filming and photographing of the expedition. The Mount Everest Committee oversaw the 1921, 1922, 1924, 1933, 1935 and 1938 expeditions to Everest.

In 1947 the Mount Everest Committee was renamed the Joint Himalayan Committee, again composed of members of the Alpine Club and the RGS. The Joint Himalayan Committee was responsible for organising and financing expeditions to Everest in 1951 and 1952 and the first ascent in 1953.

The Mount Everest Foundation was founded after the successful ascent of Everest in 1953, again a joint initiative between the RGS and the Alpine Club, it was initially financed from surplus funds and subsequent royalties of the 1953 expedition, the Foundation was established to encourage 'exploration of the mountain regions of the earth'. Since inception the MEF has dispensed almost 840,000 in grants. The majority go to small expeditions organised by adventurous young men and women. However the Foundation has also supported expeditions to the Earth's highest peaks, fine examples of which were first ascents of and new routes on Everest, Kangchenjunga, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Xixabangma, Nuptse, Kongur and the Ogre. In fifty years over 1,500 expeditions have been helped in this way.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Mount Everest Committee and the Joint Himalayan Committee, 1918-1953, including correspondence, minute books, reports, lectures, publications, films, photographs, papers relating to stores and equipment, press cuttings, papers relating to personnel, financial papers relating to the 1921, 1922, 1924, 1933, 1935, 1938 and 1953 expeditions to Mount Everest.

Papers of the Mount Everest Foundation including correspondence and printed material relating to expeditions, minutes, annual reports, audit papers and applications for expeditions, 1953 onwards.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Original order.

Conditions governing access:

Open by appointment only, subject to completion of application form. More recent papers may require the permission of the Mount Everest Foundation for viewing, consult the Archivist for details. Non-Fellows require a letter of reference.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at Archivist's discretion, and subject to completion of 'application for copies' form. No reproduction or publication without permission of Cambridge University Library.

Finding aids:

Item level descriptions available for the 1920s expeditions, box list avaiable for 1930s-1980s.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The papers were at first kept among the Royal Geographical Society's records, then when instituted in 1953, the Mount Everest Foundation took over the papers.

Immediate source of acquisition:

In 1974, when the Mount Everest Foundation gave up its office in the Royal Geographical Society's house, the papers were returned to the care of the Royal Geographical Society. Since 1974 the RGS have received reglar deposits from the Mount Everest Foundation.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Mount Everest Expeditions (general) collection contains material relating to Everest expeditions deposited with the RGS from a number of external sources. (ref: REE).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
ISAD(G) ed.2.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Oct 2008

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