A common space for harmonic peacemakers
My Gandhi collection is the most extensive collection of photographs, films and audio of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in private hands. This collection of rare photographs together with negatives, bundles of contact prints, 8 and 16-mm films, commercially produced postcards and other reproductions, along with other material, is a unique documentary record of one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century.
The collection can be separated in 5 parts: audio, photographs and images, films and video, writings and miscellaneous items.
The audio part consists of radio and other programmes on Mahatma Gandhi as well as his own speeches in Hindi and English. Some of the vinyl records are very rare and so are the CDs of the Indian Underground Radio, the so-called Congress Radio, of 1942.
The photographs and images part consists of nearly 20.000 repro-negatives and over 16.000 modern photographs which present about 5.000 different motifs of Mahatma Gandhi which form c. 90% of all existing photographs of Gandhi. A large part of those 5000 motifs is also covered by over 5.000 old and nearly 600 vintage photographs, which have been developed within 5 years after the photograph has been taken. Apart of 2.000 24x36mm repro-slides of Gandhi the collection also has 100 glas-positives of 8 x 8 cm which were produced by Gandhi’s main photographer, his nephew Kanu Gandhi in 1969. Also, Gandhi’s spiritual successor, Vinoba Bhave, is represented in the collection with 300 original photographs and 45 slides. Furthermore, all scans of the photographs can be found on over 100 CDs. Five copies of three different photo exhibitions on Gandhi with 50 A3-photographs each form also part of this section.
The films and video section consists of 229 video tapes and 252 DVDs containing films, footage and TV reports about Mahatma Gandhi and India’s independence movement. 278 DVDs are on India. Surely, the highlight of this section are the original films: Three 8mm-films by Kanu Gandhi present Gandhi and his associates at Sevagram Ashram or nearby places. Two 16-mm films are about Vinoba Bhave, one 16-mm film presents the distribution of Gandhi’s ashes in India, one 16-mm film by Kanu Gandhi presents a dance performance at a Gandhian ashram and one 16-mm film has miscellaneous content.
The writings part consists of 390 vintage, old and modern books on Gandhi and 30 books on India. 17 CDs carry an extensive correspondence and newspaper archive about Mahatma Gandhi. 7 old original newspapers and magazines report about Gandhi. One palm leaf letter carries a letter to Gandhi in Mallayalam. One box files carries the entire Reginald Reynolds and Louis Fischer archive. Two poster exhibitions on Gandhi of 40 x 60 and 60 x 80 cms complete this section.
The miscellaneous part consists of nearly 3000 old postcards and photo prints of Mahatma Gandhi as well as 3000 philatelistic items, such as stamps, first day covers, postcards, and also coins, bills and philatelistic literature about Gandhi from c. 120 countries. In total about 600 childrens paintings of the drawing competition “Mahatma Gandhi – As I see him” and 70 jigsaw puzzles of Gandhi also form part of this section. Furthermore, it has 26 box files with addresses, photos and information about Gandhi institutions in India and abroad as well as 20 t-shirts with Gandhi motifs, and 13 oil paintings of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., HH the Dalai Lama and the subject Peace. A rare sand painting portrait of Mahatma Gandhi of 48 x 62 cm as well as a wooden-frames glass mirror in shape of Mahatma Gandhi’s head of c. 80 x 60 cm complete this section.
All material is also available in digital form. This digital archive forms part of the collection, too, in form of an external hard disk, and includes rights for personal, non-commercial home use.
How did this collection come about? In over 35-years of systematic search for yet unknown material on and by Mahatma Gandhi I visited numerous associates, contemporaries, photographers, collectors and relatives of Gandhi, all over India, and also abroad. I recorded first-hand information about Gandhi and India's independence movement, and helped safeguarding treasured films, letters, photographs, negatives, documents and artefacts.
The collection was assembled by me from the mid-1980s onwards, when I began to travel India widely in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi. Part of the material has been presented to me as remuneration for my services and others I bought.
Some of the material has been used by me and GandhiServe to promote Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy but a lot of the material is yet unpublished.
The entire collection has been packed into 47 cardboard boxes of 60 x 35 x 35 cm each. The total weight is approx. 700 kg.
For further details of the collection kindly refer to thegandhicollection.org
Wonderful work. Dedication to a great legacy.