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Richard Bartlett Gregg 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

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" (

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.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kevin Stuart Lee
Finding Aid Date
2014 February 4
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This collection is open to researchers.

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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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Baldwin, Roger Nash, letters to and from Gregg, 1931 March-December, undated.
Box 1 Folder 1
Boericke and Tafel, homeopathic pharmacists, letters to and from Gregg, 1931 July 9-13.
Box 1 Folder 2
Chakrararty, Amiya, extract of a letter to Horace Alexander, 1932 September 6.
Box 1 Folder 3
Desai, Mahadev Haribhai, letter to Gregg, 1931 December 3.
Box 1 Folder 4
Elwin, Verrier, letters to Gregg and dispatch, 1932.
Box 1 Folder 5
Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand, letters to and from Gregg, newsletter, 1930-1933.
Box 1 Folder 6
Holmes, John Haynes (Reverend), letter Gregg, 1933 May 1.
Box 1 Folder 7
Laing, Mary E., letter to Gregg, 1931 October 9.
Box 1 Folder 8
Mehta, Jivraj Narayan, letters to Gregg, 1930 May.
Box 1 Folder 9
Mirabehn, letters from, 1930-1938 (1930-1933).
Box 1 Folder 10
Mukerji, Dhan Gopal, letters to and from Gregg, 1931 March 9, undated.
Box 1 Folder 11
Mussey, Henry Raymond, letters from Gregg, 1931 February-March.
Box 1 Folder 12
Nayyar, Pyarelal, letters to Gregg and newspaper clippings, 1931-1932.
Box 1 Folder 13
Nearing, Scott, letter to and from Gregg, 1930.
Box 1 Folder 14
Nehru, Jawaharlal, letter to and from, 1931.
Box 1 Folder 15
Rajagopalachari, Chakravarti, letter to Gregg, 1929 June 26.
Box 1 Folder 16
Shukla, Chandrashanker, extract of a letter, 1933 January 23.
Box 1 Folder 17
Sinha, P.N., letter from Gregg, undated.
Box 1 Folder 18
"Sister," letter from Gregg, 1931 February 3.
Box 1 Folder 19
Stokes, S.E., letters to and from Gregg, 1931.
Box 1 Folder 20
Villard, Oswald Garrish, letter from Gregg.
Box 1 Folder 21

American League for India's Freedom, "Answers to the questions commonly raised against freedom for India", 1932.
Box 1 Folder 22
Bombay Congress Bulletin, 1932 February-June.
Box 1 Folder 23
Bombay University Bulletin, 1932 February.
Box 1 Folder 24
Congress Bulletin, 1932 April 3.
Box 1 Folder 25
India League Information Bulletin, 1932 January-February.
Box 1 Folder 26
India News Bulletin, 1932 November 1.
Box 1 Folder 27
India Today, by C.F. Andrews, 1933 December.
Box 1 Folder 28
Indian Weekly Review, 1932-1933.
Box 1 Folder 29
International Committee for India, 1933 April-September.
Box 1 Folder 30
Mirabehn's reports on Bombay riots, 1932 May-July.
Box 1 Folder 31
Weekly reports, 1932 February-April.
Box 1 Folder 32
Weekly reports, 1932 May-August.
Box 1 Folder 33
Miscellaneous reports, many by Mirabehn, 1930-1932.
Box 1 Folder 34

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