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United Mission to Nepal records

Call Number: RG 212

Scope and Contents

This collection provides extensive documentation related to education, health services, industrial development, and rural development in Nepal from the mid 1950s to 2010. The operations and policies of The United Mission to Nepal are also well documented. This collection is complementary to three other collections that were originally housed with it at the University of Edinburgh and now are held by the Yale Divinity School Library: the archives of the Central Asia Fellowship (RG213), International Nepal Fellowship, Worldwide (RG 214), and Nepal Church History Project (RG 215).

The archives have been maintained as they were organized by Betty Young, UMN archivist. This finding aid provides an outline of available materials, listed in alphabetical order by topic, with the classification system used by Betty Young. Some description of the files is provided in the finding aid, but not every document is listed. A complete listing of documents is available in a notebook compiled by Betty Young, which is available in the repository. Also available in the respository is an Access database listing individual documents . Researchers who are interested in sections of the archive may contact the Yale Divinity Library Special Collections Librarian to obtain a more detailed listing of available documents. Some files are restricted, as indicated in the finding aid; these may be viewed only with written permission from UMN.

Additional materials were sent from Nepal in 2010. These were organized by Helen Parsons in Nepal and have been integrated into the original arrangement. Classification numbers for the added materials are less detailed and appear in parentheses, e.g. (A-01.02).

The last series represents material sent from Nepal since 2010.


  • 1949-2014


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research except for materials noted as "Restricted" in the finding aid.

Existence and Location of Copies

Portions of the archive are available in digital format, for example, Annual Reports and UMNews. Consult with the Special Collections Librarian regarding additional files available in digital format.

Conditions Governing Use

Rights are held by The United Mission to Nepal

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by The United Mission to Nepal, 2008 and 2010


The archives are arranged by the classification numbers supplied by UMN archivists, an arrangement that is largely alphabetical by topic, but not strictly so. There are some inconsistencies in the alphabetical classification system so it is recommended that the researcher use keyword searching in order to identify relevant materials. The last series is an addendum for 2015.


111 Linear Feet (265 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


This record group represents the official archives of The United Mission to Nepal, a Christian INGO working exclusively in Nepal since 1954 . The UMN has sought to bring medical services, education, skills training, engineering, industry, hydro power development, agriculture and rural development to Nepal, mainly in the central and western development regions of the country.

Biographical / Historical

New opportunities linked to the revolution and opening of Nepal in the early 1950s, led to the founding of the United Mission to Nepal as an international, interdenominational mission at a meeting in Nagpur, India on March 5, 1954. The decision was based on an invitation by His Majesty's Government of Nepal to Robert Fleming, an ornithologist and science teacher at Woodstock school, India to open a hospital in Tansen and to start Women's and Children's welfare clinics in the Kathmandu Valley.

The first maternity clinic had already opened in Bhaktapur on 7 January 1954 and the first UMN hospital was opened in Kathmandu a month later, housed in the government Cholera Hospital. This was to become the Shanta Bhawan Hospital, which later evolved into Patan Hospital, established as a partnership with HMGN and the local community. In September 1954, medical work began in Tansen in a rented house in the bazaar. Soon plans were made for building a larger Tansen Hospital, and work expanded to include community health, agriculture, and other activities.

Education activities were quickly added to UMN's work. From 1957 schools were opened in Amppipal and later in Luitel. A dispensary was set up, which later became Amppipal Hospital. Agricultural and animal health work was also initiated - the first seeds of UMN's involvement in rural development. Meanwhile, in Kathmandu, UMN opened the Mahendra Bhawan Girls' School. This was the country's first girls' high school, and it soon gained a reputation for its academic excellence. In Tansen, the building of the new hospital made progress, but the pace was slow because of the difficulty in finding skilled workers. Odd Hoftun, who led the construction work, had a vision for educating young Nepalis in technical skills and utilising the hydropower potential of Nepal's rivers to create opportunities for small businesses. He managed to raise support from his home country, and brought 176 tons of equipment from Norway to Butwal in 1964. This was the beginning of UMN's Engineering and Industrial Development work. Tinau Hydropower plant was built and the Butwal Technical Institute established. In 1966, Butwal Power Company was formed, the first of a series of companies founded by UMN.

In 1959, the Headquarters was established in its current location in Thapathali, Kathmandu. Work expanded quickly in terms of both personnel and activities. Okhaldhunga (initially a dispensary) was added to the UMN hospitals in the early 1960s. The hospitals reached out to the surrounding communities through Community Health programmes, providing primary care in health posts, but also seeking to promote good health practices and prevent illnesses through awareness raising and development activities. Training of health workers was a part of UMN's work from the very beginning. This was first institutionalized in 1959 through the establishment of the School of Nursing at Shanta Bhawan Hospital, known today as Lalitpur Nursing Campus.

A major new venture in the education sector was the establishment of Gandaki Boarding School (GBS) in Pokhara in 1966. GBS earned a reputation throughout Nepal for its high standards, and many GBS graduates today hold positions in government and civil society. Provision of scholarships, UMN ensured that talented boys and girls from disadvantaged and poor communities also had access to quality education through GBS. In 2000, tertiary education was added through the establishment of the Gandaki College of Engineering Science.

The early 80s saw a new wave of enthusiasm and initiative in UMN, including a growing interest in rural development. The Rural Development Centre was established in Pokhara in 1981. This centre provided consultancy and training in animal health and husbandry, and gradually added horticulture, forestry, drinking water systems, organisational development, and training of trainers. The hydropower project in Andhikhola, begun in 1982, was complemented by a significant element of community empowerment and development, and a new project was set up in Surkhet in the same year with the aim of meeting the needs of the local communities.

UMN's emphasis has shifted from input of external resources to facilitating access to and use of community resources. More weight has been given to community ownership of the development activities. This has resulted in empowered communities continuing development work themselves when UMN projects have been phased out.

A new venture in the education sector was the establishment in 1980 of Karnali Technical School, providing technical education in construction, health and agriculture to young Nepalis in the remote Karnali Zone. In 1955, UMN's emphasis shifted towards enabling the learning in the school to benefit the communities outside Jumla bazaar, through extension classes, non formal education (NFE) and development activities. In the 90s other NFE projects were initiated in Jajarkot, Dailekh and Mugu, all of which have now been phased out.

The Non-Formal Education Support Office, established in 1980, played an essential role in developing methodology and materials for NFE work throughout UMN and beyond. UMN was also involved in strengthening formal education (primary and secondary) through the School Partnership Programmes in Dailekh and Syangja districts.

In the past, ten to fifteen years specialised health programmes have evolved, focusing on particular areas of health needs in Nepal. These were Mental Health, Nutrition, Oral Health, Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Tuberculosis, Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS. They have made significant contributions in research, training, health education and development of appropriate services, and have increasingly had an impact on government planning and policy development

In the industrial sector, UMN has continued to build the capacity of the companies it started in the 60s and 70s, while handing over ownership and management. Several of these companies are today market leaders in their respective fields. In recent years, the focus has shifted back to the development and support of small-scale enterprises. The Enterprise Support Programme began in 2000, building on experiences from enterprise development in Andhikhola and on the technology development work of Development and Consulting Services. Kathmandu University has become an important partner for UMN's strategy of skills development.

The divestment of directly implemented programmes, projects and institutions started in early 2003 as per UMN's new strategic directions and several of them were handed over Nepali organisations in orderly manner by July 2005. UMN continues focusing on decentralization and capacity building Nepali organisations and handover of remaining programmes that will be completed in 2008.

Custodial History

Previously held at the Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh.
Guide to the United Mission to Nepal Records
Betty Young / Martha Lund Smalley / Jeffrey Coutts
2008, 2010, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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