Godha Ram Channon papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Godha Ram Channon (1882-1954) was an Indian-American political activist who played a critical role in the Indian independence movement as a member of the Ghadar Party, an expatriate revolutionary organization based in San Francisco. Born in the village of Koradhi in Punjab (now Pakistan), Channon served in the Revenue Department of the government of Punjab and as an official of the Maharaja of Pataila. During this time, he became familiar with the works of Har Dayal, later a prominent member of the Ghadar Party. In 1912, Channon visited California to study American agricultural methods. At the advice of Dayal, who was spending time in America, he took up residence in San Francisco, where he founded the India-China Trading Company, an import/export business, and began political work with the Ghadar Party.
Within the Gadhar Party, Channon's role was primarily editorial and literary. He served as the chief Urdu calligrapher for party publications, as well as writing and editing articles. In 1917, he was one of the defendants in the Hindu-German Conspiracy Trial, in which members of the Gadhar Party were accused by the U.S. government (at the behest of the United Kingdom) of fomenting a military uprising in India in collaboration with Germany. Convicted of violating the neutrality of the United States, Channon began a nearly year-long prison sentence in 1918, leaving prison at the time of the Armistice of World War I.
After decades of commercial success and advocacy on the behalf of India-related causes, such as citizenship eligibility for Indian immigrants in the United States and a U.S. pledge to support Indian independence in the wake of World War II, Channon served as a link between the newly independent nation and the expatriate Indian community on the American West Coast. He was Secretary of the Reception Committee who planned and supervised visits by the Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Ambassador to the United States V.L. Pandit in 1949 and 1950. Channon finally visited India for the first time since his emigration in 1952. Though he supported the new Indian government, Channon was disappointed by the partition of India, especially since his own homeland in Punjab (which became part of the new nation of Pakistan) suffered from violent dislocation of Hindi nationals, rioting, and looting. He advocated for many displaced citizens of Punjab, helping them emigrate to and seek employment in the United States.
Godha Ram Channon died in 1954; at which point, Channon's son, V.P. Channon, assumed responsibility for much of the business of the India-China Trading Company. The younger Channon sold the company to the Sidha Corporation in 1980.
This collection includes material collected and created by Godha Ram Channon, as well as a small amount produced and collected by his son, V.P.: correspondence; writing by Godha Ram and others; personal and professional material; material related to events planned and attended by Godha Ram Channon; material in Urdu and Hindi; newspaper clippings; photographs; and a small amount of miscellaneous material.
The majority of the correspondence is either to or from Godha Ram Channon, and concerns commercial and political matters; there is a smaller amount of correspondence between V.P. and various correspondents, mostly concerning V.P.'s trip to India in 1981. While there is no distinguishing professional, political, and personal correspondence, the tone of the letters is formal, and there is little to no discussion of private or family matters. Godha Ram Channon's wife, for example, is almost never mentioned.
The writing by Godha Ram Channon concerns literary and political matters, such as the efficacy of Dollar Exchange with America after Indian independence, while the writing by others consists primarily of political articles concerning Indian independence and partition.
Personal and professional material are collected together in a single series because it is impossible to distinguish Godha Ram Channon's work as an import/export merchant with his (sometimes clandestine) political work. This series contains personal documents, such as resumes and letters of recommendation; legal documents, such as mortgages; identification and membership cards; contact lists of names and addresses; research material and library call slips; photographs; notebooks; and financial documents.
Event material consists of documents related to the planning and execution of official visits by Indian Prime Minister Nehru and Ambassador to the United States V.I. Pandit, as well as playbills and fliers for events collected by Godha Ram Channon. Hindi and Urdu material consists of publications in both languages and handwritten material, some of it presumably in Godha Ram Channon's hand.
The newspaper clippings are predominately of articles related to India's struggle for independence and the political situation after Indian independence and partition.
The photographs are wide-ranging in subject, from photos of documents to travel pictures to portraits of Channon's family and associates.
The miscellaneous documents contain a yearbook of uncertain provenance, a printed card with medical advice, and several sheets of stamps.
A non-inclusive selection of scanned digital copies of material from this collection is available at the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) at the following address: https://www.saada.org/browse/collection/godha-ram-channon-papers
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Sam Allingham
- Finding Aid Date
- 2020 March 12
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- 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.