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Richard Bartlett Gregg papers

Ms. Coll. 954

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Gregg, Richard Bartlett, 1885-
Richard Bartlett Gregg papers
Date [bulk]:
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 954
0.4 linear feet (1 box)
The Richard Bartlett Gregg papers consist of letters and news reports related to the Indian independence movement collected by the American social philosopher and nonviolence theorist Richard Bartlett Gregg (1885-1974) between 1930 and 1938. Fascinated and inspired by Gandhi, Gregg lived in India from 1925 to 1929. Upon his return to the United States he promoted the nonviolence and simple living exemplified by Gandhi as tools for transforming Western civilization, and kept track of events in India by way of correspondence with Indian leaders and their Western sympathizers and subscriptions to publications supportive of Indian independence. The collection includes handwritten letters to Gregg from prominent Indian guiding lights, including Gandhi, Mahadev Desai, Jivraj Mehta, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mirabehn (Madeleine Slade).
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Richard Bartlett Gregg papers, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
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Richard Bartlett Gregg, Esq. (born 1885 in Colorado Springs, CO, died 1974) was an American lawyer, social philosopher, and advocate of nonviolent resistance and simple living. The son of a minister, Gregg attended Harvard where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1907 and his juris doctor in 1911. He worked first as a labor lawyer, and later as a Chicago railroad union employee until discovering literature on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his nonviolent resistance ("Satyagraha") to British colonial rule in India. Moved in an extraordinary manner, Gregg sailed to India in 1925 and immersed himself in the country, its culture, and independence movement, teaching in a village school, living for seven months in Gandhi's famous Sabarmati ashram, and acquainting himself firsthand with the lives and practices of the satyagrahis. Gregg returned to the United States in 1929 a disciple of Gandhi. During the 1930s, Gregg maintained a correspondence with Gandhi, as well as other leaders of the Indian nationalist movement and prominent figures of the American Left, and kept close tabs on the developments in India. Inspired by Gandhi's example, Gregg split his time between Boston and a rural farm, and wrote "The Power of Non-Violence" (1935) and "The Value of Voluntary Simplicity" (1936). "The Power of Non-Violence" is perhaps most famous as one of the five texts that influenced Martin Luther King Jr. to champion nonviolence in the civil rights movement. A modest man of deep convictions, Gregg was called "one of the quietest radicals in history" (Kosek) and advocated not for revolution, but for peaceful civil disobedience and self-sufficient, back-to-the-land living as tools for the transformation of Western civilization into what he believed would be a more humane and compassionate society. He wrote one further book, "Companion Plants" (1966). He had one wife, Nonie.

Kosek, Joseph Kip, "The Power of Nonviolence" (

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises two series, "Correspondence" (from 1929 to 1938) and "Newsletters and reports" (from 1930 to 1933) concerning the Indian independence movement. "Correspondence" consists of letters (both handwritten and typed) to and from Richard Gregg and Indian nationalist leaders (including Mohandas Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mirabehn), personalities of the American Left (Roger Nash Baldwin and Scott Nearing), and associated sympathizers. It also contains one dispatch from Father Verrier Elwin on the nonviolent activities of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and his Red-Shirts in the North-West Frontier Province, and newspaper clippings from Pyarelal Nayyar on the Bombay cotton boycott. The series is organized in alphabetical order according to author's last name (i.e., Baldwin, Desai, Gandhi, etc.). Within each folder, the letters are organized in chronological order from earliest to latest.

"Newsletters and reports" (from 1930 to 1933) consists of digests and circular letters from several publications allied with the Indian nationalist cause detailing protests, pickets, and police brutality towards prisoners and villagers. It also contains Mirabehn's (Madeleine Slade's) reports on the Bombay Riots of 1930. The series is organized in alphabetical order according to publication or organization name, with the exception of folder 25 ("Miscellaneous"). The contents of each folder are organized in chronological order from earliest to latest. This collection will be of use to researchers interested in the personalities and events of the Indian independence movement c. 1930-1933, the development of nonviolence theory, and figures of the American Left of the early 20th century.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2014 February 4

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Kevin Stuart Lee

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Correspondence
  • Newsletters
Geographic Name(s)
  • India--Politics and government--1919-1947
  • Activists
Personal Name(s)
  • Gandhi, Mahatma, 1869-1948
  • Mirabehn, 1892-1982
  • Nationalism--India--History--20th century
  • Passive resistance--India
  • Political science
  • Riots--India

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Collection Inventory

Correspondence, 1930-1938.

Box Folder

Baldwin, Roger Nash, letters to and from Gregg, 1931 March-December, undated.

1 1

Boericke and Tafel, homeopathic pharmacists, letters to and from Gregg, 1931 July 9-13.

1 2

Chakrararty, Amiya, extract of a letter to Horace Alexander, 1932 September 6.

1 3

Desai, Mahadev Haribhai, letter to Gregg, 1931 December 3.

1 4

Elwin, Verrier, letters to Gregg and dispatch, 1932.

1 5

Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand, letters to and from Gregg, newsletter, 1930-1933.

1 6

Holmes, John Haynes (Reverend), letter Gregg, 1933 May 1.

1 7

Laing, Mary E., letter to Gregg, 1931 October 9.

1 8

Mehta, Jivraj Narayan, letters to Gregg, 1930 May.

1 9

Mirabehn, letters from, 1930-1938 (Bulk, 1930-1933) .

1 10

Mukerji, Dhan Gopal, letters to and from Gregg, 1931 March 9, undated.

1 11

Mussey, Henry Raymond, letters from Gregg, 1931 February-March.

1 12

Nayyar, Pyarelal, letters to Gregg and newspaper clippings, 1931-1932.

1 13

Nearing, Scott, letter to and from Gregg, 1930.

1 14

Nehru, Jawaharlal, letter to and from, 1931.

1 15

Rajagopalachari, Chakravarti, letter to Gregg, 1929 June 26.

1 16

Shukla, Chandrashanker, extract of a letter, 1933 January 23.

1 17

Sinha, P.N., letter from Gregg, undated.

1 18

"Sister," letter from Gregg, 1931 February 3.

1 19

Stokes, S.E., letters to and from Gregg, 1931.

1 20

Villard, Oswald Garrish, letter from Gregg.

1 21

Newsletters and reports, 1930-1933.

Box Folder

American League for India's Freedom, "Answers to the questions commonly raised against freedom for India", 1932.

1 22

Bombay Congress Bulletin, 1932 February-June.

1 23

Bombay University Bulletin, 1932 February.

1 24

Congress Bulletin, 1932 April 3.

1 25

India League Information Bulletin, 1932 January-February.

1 26

India News Bulletin, 1932 November 1.

1 27

India Today, by C.F. Andrews, 1933 December.

1 28

Indian Weekly Review, 1932-1933.

1 29

International Committee for India, 1933 April-September.

1 30

Mirabehn's reports on Bombay riots, 1932 May-July.

1 31

Weekly reports, 1932 February-April.

1 32

Weekly reports, 1932 May-August.

1 33

Miscellaneous reports, many by Mirabehn, 1930-1932.

1 34