Search-n-Research was the theme for an ongoing 35-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:


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

135 Audio CDs on Mahatma Gandhi

17 Records on Mahatma Gandhi

4 CDs of the Indian Underground Radio (Congress Radio) programmes, 1942

1 Box file "Indian Underground Radio (Congress Radio)" incl. 2 audio cassettes with programmes of the Congress Radio

Photographs / Images

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)

300 Original photographs of Vinoba Bhave, his associates and Paunar Ashram

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

56 CDs with various photographs (original scans), research material, films, exhibitions, interviews and newspaper articles about Gandhi

50 CDs of scans and touched images of original photographs and negatives of Mahatma Gandhi

45 Slides of Vinoba Bhave

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)

Films / Video

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

252 DVDs/VCDs on Mahatma Gandhi

278 DVDs/VCDs on India

3 Original 8mm films of Mahatma Gandhi

2 Original 16mm films about Vinoba Bhave

1 Original 16mm film about Mahatma Gandhi's post-cremation

1 Original 16mm film of a dance performance at a Gandhian ashram

1 Original 16mm film of miscellaneous content


390 Books on Mahatma Gandhi

30 Books on India

17 CDs with an extensive correspondence and newspaper archive about Mahatma Gandhi

7 Old newspapers and magazines (vintage)

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

1 Poster exhibition "My Life is my Message" (40 x 60 cm)

1 Poster exhibition "SATYAGRAHA - In Pursuit of Truth" (11 sheets, 60 x 80 cm)

1 Box file with the Reginald Reynolds and Louis Fischer Archive


2958 Old postcards and photo prints of Mahatma Gandhi

3000 Philatelistic items (stamps, first day cover, postcards), coins, bills and philatelistic literature about Gandhi from c. 120 countries

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

200 Childrens paintings (40 x 60 cm) of drawing competition Мahatma Gandhi As I see Him

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

26 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., HH the Dalai Lama and Peace

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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