Search-n-Research was the theme for an ongoing 34-years project of systematic oral history and search for yet unknown material on and by Mahatma Gandhi. Peter Rühe, the founder of GandhiServe - www.gandhiserve.org -, visited numerous associates, contemporaries, photographers, collectors and relatives of Gandhi, all over India and also abroad. He recorded reminiscences and first hand information about Gandhi and India's independence movement, and helped safeguarding treasured films, letters, photographs, negatives, documents and artefacts.

The Gandhi Collection was assembled by Peter Rühe from the mid 1980s onwards, when he began to travel widely in India in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi. He acquired the material in several stages from e.g. the Kanu Gandhi and Vithalbhai Jhaveri heirs, following extensive work with them on the organisation and conservation of their collections. This material has been used by Peter Rühe and GandhiServe to promote Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy in the years that have followed.

Now all material is also available in digital form - c. 22.500 items - and can be viewed and downloaded on GandhiMedia - www.gandhimedia.org. This digitial archive forms part of the collection, too.

Read how Peter Rühe acquired the material, in his own words.

Get a glimpse of the collection

Overview of the collection

The Gandhi Collection is formed of two major subcollections, each of which has a distinct history and focus. The first is the content of the studio of the photographer Kanu Gandhi (1917-1986), who was Gandhi's grandnephew who lived with him at Sevagram Ashram from the mid 1930's. Kanu was a member of Gandhi’s personal staff and the only one allowed to take his granduncle’s photograph at any time. Thus he was able to capture him in all his moods and moments. Peter Rühe visited Kanu and his wife Abha in 1985 at their home in Rajkot. After Kanu’s death he helped his widow to organise the large and unique photographic collection. He was lucky enough to obtain – and safeguard – several thousand photographs in excess of 1000 photographic images of Mahatma Gandhi as well as many other associated images, together with postcards and other commercial reproductions, partly as remuneration for his service and partly through purchase.

The second subcollection derives from the estate of Gandhi's biographer, the writer and film-maker Vithalbhai Jhaveri (1916-1985), comprising of several thousand photographs and over 4.500 different images of Mahatma Gandhi and related subjects. After Jhaveri’s death, his collection was sent to Peter Rühe for scientific treatment. The archive was then returned to Jhaveri’s family in 1994. As remuneration for his priceless work, Peter Rühe received ca. 1000 photographs from the family.

The Gandhi Collection also includes a sizeable number of items from other sources and a vast quantity of modern material, such as VHS video, CDs, DVDs, repro negatives, modern prints, records and audio cassettes.

The Gandhi Collection consists of the following items:


300 Audio cassettes on Mahatma Gandhi, India and India's independence movement

120 Audio CDs on Mahatma Gandhi

15 Records on Mahatma Gandhi


19553 Repro-negatives of Mahatma Gandhi (24 x 36 mm)

16356 Modern photographs of Mahatma Gandhi (developed between 1980 and today)

5031 Old photographs of Mahatma Gandhi (developed in the 1950s to 70s)

2000 Slides of Mahatma Gandhi (24 x 36 mm)

595 Vintage photographs of Mahatma Gandhi (developed within five years after the photograph was taken)

100 Glas positives (transparencies; 8 x 8 cm) of Mahatma Gandhi

2 Photo exhibitions MAHATMA - Images of M K Gandhi (50 prints of 25 x 38 cm)

2 Photo exhibitions Мahatma Gandhi's Peace March through Bihar - A Photographer's Account (50 prints of 25 x 38 cm)

1 Photo exhibition Mahatma Gandhi - Travelling by Train (50 prints of 25 x 38 cm)


270 VHS-Video tapes containing films, footage and TV reports about Mahatma Gandhi and India's independence movement

240 DVDs/VCDs on Mahatma Gandhi

80 DVDs/VCDs on India


450 Books on Mahatma Gandhi

50 Books on India

20 Old newspapers and magazines (vintage)

1 Palm leaf letter to Mahatma Gandhi in Mallayalam (incl. translation)


2400 Old postcards and photo prints of Mahatma Gandhi

2000 Stamps of Mahatma Gandhi from c. 120 countries

500 Childrens paintings (20 x 30 cm to 30 x 40 cm) of drawing competition Мahatma Gandhi As I see Him

70 Jigsaw puzzles Мy Life is My Message (130 pieces, 28 x 43 cm)

30 Box files with addresses, photos and information about Gandhi institutions in India and abroad

20 T-shirts Мy Life is My Message (black, white)

13 Oil paintings of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and HH the Dalai Lama

1 Sandpainting portrait of Mahatma Gandhi 48 x 62 cm

1 Mirror (wood/glass) in shape of Mahatma Gandhi's head, c. 80 x 60 cm

1 Digitized database which includes all media as displayed on www.gandhimedia.org, incl. all audio visual material of this collection (22.500 items)

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