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Horace Gundry Alexander Papers

Identifier: SCPC-DG-140

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mostly of correspondence, both personal and relating to Alexander's intense interest in India, as well as his published and unpublished writings [not a complete set]. Some of the material is original, but much of it consists of photocopies, the originals of which were sent to the Friends House Library in London (England) [note: the SCPC does not have the literary rights to the photocopied material]. The Friends House Library in London also holds 79 family letters (1830-1860), the bulk of which are between Samuel Alexander (1809-1884) and Sarah Gundry Alexander (1809-1860). Note that the 2012 accession added much important original correspondence to the collection. Many of the personal letters and cards were sent to HGA and his second wife, Rebecca.

Alexander donated approximately 250 books, primarily by and about Gandhi, to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection; he also donated important Indian publications: Arunodayam, Gandhi Marg, Visvabharati Quarterly, Young India and Harijan [check tripod for these materials, as well as that owned by the Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College].


  • Creation: 1915-1989


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Yes, correspondence and other unpublished materials created by Horace Alexander or others are completely closed to all researchers until 2021 or 2040 as noted next to each box. Restrictions are based on the policies of the Library at Friends House, London, UK.

Conditions Governing Use


Biographical note

Horace Alexander was born in Croyden (England) in 1889, the son of Joseph Gundry Alexander and Josephine Crosfield. He was the youngest of four brothers; Gilbert was seven years older, Wilfred (W.B.) was four years older, and Christopher (killed in Flanders in 1917) was two years older. Horace Alexander was educated at Bootham School in York and at King's College, Cambridge University, where he graduated with honors in history. He taught at a Cranbrook grammar school (15 miles east of Turnbridge Wells) during the winters of 1917-1918 and 1918-1919. From ca. 1919-1941 he was a lecturer in international relations at Woodbrooke College in Birmingham; he served as the school's director in 1941-1945.

Alexander was a life-long member of the Religious Society of Friends. His father had been involved in working for peace and justice in many areas of the world, and Alexander followed in his footsteps in his wide knowledge and influence. He was active with the League of Nations Union's Opium Traffic Committee (1926-1931), and his concern about Great Britain's profit in the opium trade led to his first visit to India in 1928, where he met Gandhi and stayed with him for a week. Alexander's life-long interest in India involved activities with the India Conciliation Group, which worked for Indian independence from Great Britain; being an advisor(?) to Gandhi at the Round Table Conference in London (England) in 1931; serving with the Friends Ambulance Unit in India in 1942-1943; being an advisor to Gandhi during Cabinet Mission sessions in India in 1946; doing relief work in India with the Friends Service Committee in India and Pakistan in 1948; corresponding with Indians and others around the world to lobby for Indian rights; and, writing and publishing extensively about Gandhi and about India. He estimated that "between 1927 and 1955 he spent twelve years in India in various bits and pieces." Rabindranath Tagore wrote in July 1930: "I have great regard for Professor Horace Alexander who is a personal friend of mine and I am glad to take this opportunity of his visit to India to recommend him warmly to my countrymen. He represents a spiritual community in the West with whom we have deep bonds of affinity and in his tour in India he wll be able to bring to our people the touch of that larger humanity which inspires him and his colleagues in Woodbrooke." Gandhi described Alexander in 1942 as "one of the best English friends India has."

Alexander's other involvements include the Friends Service Committee, 1915-1920; the War and Social Order Committee, 1916-1919; the Meeting for Sufferings (for Sussex, Surrey and Hants Quarterly Meetings), 1920; the Council for International Service, 1921-1927; the Peace Committee, 1915-1930, 1936-1946, 1955-1965; the Anglo-American Collaboration Committee, 1944-1948; and, the Peace and International Relations Committee, 1965-1969.

Alexander became engaged to Olive Graham, a teacher in a girls' school, in September 1917; they married July 30(?), 1918. She died in 1942. Alexander married Rebecca Biddle Bradbeer in 1958. They moved to Swarthmore (Pennsylvania, USA) in 1969. Alexander lived to be 100 years old; he died in October 1989. He had a life-long interest in ornithology and published 70 Years of Birdwatching in 1974. His other books include Consider India: An Essay in Values, Gandhi Through Western Eyes, The India Ferment, Joseph Gundry Alexander, and New Citizens of India.

There are additional collections of Horace Alexander papers and materials at Library, Friends House, London, and at the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology, Oxford University.


5.8 linear ft.


Horace Alexander was born in England in 1889 and died in the United States in 1989. As a life-long member of the Religious Society of Friends, he was interested in Indian rights and worked with Gandhi and others for many years to lobby for it. He wrote books about Gandhi and other subjects.


The original accession of this collection is first organized into Alexander biographical material; activities with international Friends' groups; speeches and writings; correspondence; personal correspondence; and reference files on subjects of interest to Horace Alexander. Later accessions are organized by succession, in a similar manner.

Custodial History

The Swarthmore College Peace Collection is not the official repository for the Horace Alexander papers. Parts of this collection are photocopies of original documents housed at the Library, at Friends House, London, UK.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Horace Alexander and Cecilia Sibinga (stepdaughter),1976 [Acc. 76A-132], 1978(Acc. 78A-085 Acc.78A-090], 1980 [Acc. 80A-050], 1983 [Acc. 83A-065], 1989 [Acc. 89A-119], 1991 [Acc. 91A-124],1992 [Acc. 92A-010], 1994 [Acc. 94A-042]; Acc. 94A-099], 2007 [Acc. 07A-043], 2008 [Acc. 08A-021], 2012 [Acc. 2012A-070].

Related Materials

Horace Alexander Book Collection, Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Separated Materials

Items removed: Books and periodicals moved to the Peace Collection book and periodical collections; photos moved to the Photograph Collection; Wooden box created at "Tagore's University" (and the hand-woven cap and small flag in it) moved to Memorabilia Collection.

Legal Status

Copyright for the materials created by Horace Alexander has been assigned to the Library of Friends House in London, UK. Otherwise copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendents, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

General Note

Originals of some materials were donated by Horace Alexander and Ceceilia Sibinga to Friends House Library in London, England. Original material in accessions dated from 2008 and after are located only in the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Peace Collection staff; updated by Wendy Chmielewski, October 2008, and by Anne Yoder, November 2012.

Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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