Zohrab Information Center Special Collections available to the public

A group of special collections comprised of hundreds of photographs, letters, scrapbooks, and other artifacts has recently been processed and is now available for the interested public to view at the Zohrab Information Center. The collections were processed by Linda Smith, a graduate student at Simmons University, pursing a degree in Archives Management, who is concurrently an archival intern at the Zohrab Center.

The collection includes over 125 years of materials that were donated over the years by various individuals.

Dr Elias Riggs
Dr. Riggs was a missionary who lived from 1810-1901 and worked in the Ottoman Empire for decades. He helped guide the translation of the Bible into modern Armenian. The plate was made and colored by E.F. McLouglin, 36 Bromfield St., Boston.

The first series contains several small portrait photographs and photographic glass plates from Armenian photographers based in Constantinople/Istanbul in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These photographs and plates show various leaders, religious figures, and people at work or with their families, as well as various sites in Armenia and the former Ottoman Empire.

Bashi Bozooks
Bashi Bozooks were irregular soldiers of the Ottoman army raised only in times of war.
Similar to a bashi bozook, a zeibek was an irregular militia and guerrilla fighter who lived in West Anatolia from the late 17th to early 20th centuries.

The second series consists of photographs and other personal artifacts from Zaven Melik-Shah Nazaroff, whose brother was Soss E. Melik. Both brothers were artists, but Soss’s renown far surpassed Zaven’s. Both brothers, their parents Efrem Melik Shah-Nazaroff and Maria Avanesov, and friends and family members are featured in photographs, and artwork from both brothers is photographed as well.

Zaven Melik-Shah Nazaroff
Zaven Melik-Shah Nazaroff with a work of art, 1949.
Soss E. Melik
Soss E. Melik (left) is pictured here with Reinald Werrenrath, an American baritone opera singer who regularly performed under the name Edward Hamilton. This photograph was taken on August 20, 1939 in Kingston, NY.

The next series is by far the largest and consists primarily of materials donated either by former diocesan employees or people active in the diocese. The contents document people and events related to the diocese, or were donated by people who thought the materials would be of interest to the diocese and those connected to it. The materials include photographs, photo albums, clippings, letters, postcards, certificates, and other documents.

Mekhitarist monks
This photograph’s caption (in French) translates to “Armenian church vestments” and refers to the island of San Lazarro degli Armeni, home to the Mekhitarist monastery.
Reuben Nakian
From left, Reuben Nakian, Alex Manoogian, Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Mrs. Reuben Nakian, and Mrs. Alex Manoogian. The sculpture on the left, a permanent installation on the St. Vartan cathedral plaza, was created by Nakian and is called “Descent from the Cross.”
Armenian dances
Delegates and guests performing traditional Armenian dances at the gala banquet for the 88th Diocesan assembly in Worcester, Massachusetts on May 5, 1990.
A unique feature of this collection is the numerous scrapbooks and photo albums available. Here is a two-page spread from one album, available in box 11.

The fourth series is the Ashjian family donation. Zovig Ashjian donated these photographs, which are primarily of her father, Fr. Arten Ashjian (1919–2016), who played an influential and leading role in the diocese throughout his long pastoral ministry, including at St. James in Watertown, MA (1955–1969) and as a teacher at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary.

Father Ashjian, John A. Volpe, Archbishop Sion Manoogian
From left, Fr. Arten Ashjian, Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe, and Archbishop Sion Manoogian at a banquet in Boston on March 28, 1965.
Father Ashjian
Fr. Arten Ashjian celebrating with others at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary in 1988. To Fr. Arten’s left are current seminary dean Fr. Mardiros Chevian and current Diocesan Vicar Fr. Simeon Odabashian.

The next series is the Joseph and Joyce Chorbajian donation. Joseph served on the original steering committee responsible for the construction of St. Vartan Cathedral. After the cathedral was operational, he served in many positions within the diocese. Several photographs show Joseph, his wife Armenouhie, and daughter Joyce throughout his life. Highlights of this donation include old passports of Joseph, Armenouhie, and Joseph’s mother Veronica and cards and letters congratulating Joseph for different honors bestowed upon him by the diocese and a banquet held in his honor on November 6, 1977.

Zareh Kapikian, Ralph Anoushian, Edward Bashian, Edward Chapian, and Joseph Chorbajian
From left, Diocesan delegates Zareh Kapikian, Ralph Anoushian, Edward Bashian, Edward Chapian, and Joseph Chorbajian in May 1970.
Joyce, Joseph, and Armenouhie Chorbajian
The Chorbajian family (the three people in the background facing the camera). From left, Joyce, Joseph, and Armenouhie.

The final series in this collection contains materials from the opening of the Zohrab Information Center on November 8, 1987 through its early years. There are several photographs from events that took place in St. Vartan Cathedral, the Zohrab Information Center, and nearby, including an assembly that took place outside the diocese seeking help and awareness for Armenians suffering from an Azeri blockade in the early 1990s.

Photographs from the opening of the Zohrab Information Center
Photographs from the early days of the Zohrab Information Center, which include Dolores Zohrab Liebmann, Bishop Khajag Barsamian, Fr. Krikor Maksoudian, Dn. Hovannes Khosdeghian, and others.
Dolores Zohrab Liebmann
An undated photograph of Dolores with Mr. and Mrs. Haik Kavookjian (located in the Zohrab Information Center opening series).
Assembly against Azeri blockade
Photographs of an assembly that took place outside the diocese seeking help and awareness for Armenians suffering from an Azeri blockade in the early 1990s.

These collections illustrate the experiences of Armenian people from the 19th and 20th centuries across the globe. It serves as an invaluable look into the lives and work of many Armenian people throughout history, especially those connected with the Armenian Church and Eastern Diocese. This collection is now available for visitors looking to conduct research or simply admire documents, artifacts, and photographs from the past. A searchable finding aid of the collection is available to view here.

“Artsakh: Angel of Peace” – A Photography Exhibit by Dr. Marina Mchitarian on May 26th at 7:00pm (ET)

On May 26th, 2022, at 7:00pm a photography exhibit entitled “Artsakh: Angel of Peace” will debut at Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church, organized by the Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center, with a wine and cheese reception. Featuring photographs taken before and after the war and highlighting Armenian cultural heritage now under Azerbaijani control, Dr. Mchitarian’s photographs nevertheless offer an inspiring message of hope.

Dr. Marina Mchitarian is an independent researcher and the founding president of “Action for Peace,” an Armenian NGO. After completing her Ph.D. at the crossroad of mathematics and mathematical modeling, she pursued postdoctoral studies in archaeology at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and conducted research in archaeometallurgy at Ghent University (Belgium). 

Fluent in four languages (Armenian, Greek, Russian, and English), she worked for fifteen years for the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. By curating a personal documentary of photographs from three Genocides (Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian), she was drawn into the work of safeguarding cultural heritage. She worked for three years for the Dutch NGO ‘’Walk of Truth’’ (The Hague, The Netherlands), whose mission is to protect cultural legacy in zones of conflict. 

Her documentary photography project “Peace and Photography” featured Artsakh and Turkish-occupied Cyprus, which had exhibit-presentations in New York, London, Thessaloniki, Yerevan, and Shushi (Artsakh). 

Since February 2020, she has worked as an independent researcher investigating religious freedom, religious diplomacy, ecumenism, peace and reconciliation, and the endangered Christians of the Middle East. In August 2020, she registered the NGO ‘’Action for Peace’’ (Human Rights, Humanitarian Aid and Peace-building) in Armenia. Through her NGO, she has conducted documentary photography and oral history projects in Artsakh: “Women of Artsakh: War, Identity and Peace” in September 2020 and “Nostos: The Aftermath of the War” in January 2021. She also collaborates with NYC-based Save Armenian Monuments, which operates under the auspices of the Eastern Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America.

Some of Dr. Mchitarian’s previous work may be viewed here:

Memory in Action. From Mush to Artsakh, from the Desert Generations to the Independence Generations

Can Memory Trigger a Genocide Prevention? (Documentary photography project)

Peace and Photography (Documentary photography project)

Hellenes of Armenia (Documentary photography project)

Hrair Hawk Khatcherian to Present New Magnificent Album on Khatchkars on Thursday, March 30.

IMG_3597Acclaimed photographer Hrair Hawk Khatcherian will present his new, massive album entitled, Khatchkar [Խաչքար] at the Zohrab Center on Thursday, March 30 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese in New York.

Spanning over 500 pages and including well over 1000 exquisite photographs, Khatcherian’s unprecedented photographic compilation comprises easily the most comprehensive photographic documentation of the signature sacred art form of the Armenian people.

Khatchkars are intricately adorned crosses sculpted into stone, which are ubiquitous in the Armenian homeland. Armenians continued to create khatchkars wherever they migrated. As such, beautiful examples of khatchkars—no two of them alike—can be found all over the world, wherever Armenians live or have lived; and they date from the early centuries of Christianity to the present time. They are true markers of Christian Armenian presence.

Khatcherian has photographed khatchkars in Armenia and throughout the world. Some years ago he visited the Zohrab Center to exhibit photographs he had taken from western and historical Armenia.

The publication of the album was subsidized by Mr. and Mrs. Hagop Didizian of London.

2017-03 HawkKacherian.001CLICK HERE to download a full-color flyer.

Born in Lebanon, Khatcherian lives in Canada. There, in 1988 he participated resolutely in the various activities of the Diaspora linked to the Artsakh Movement. In 1993 he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. In his hospital room where he underwent terrible treatments which alone could kill a man, there was on the wall a cross and photographs of Armenia and Artsakh.

“It was by staring at them fiercely, day by day, with my mortally wounded hawk’s eyes, that I succeeded in tearing myself from the claws of Death, to take flight again, and to rise high again in the sky, in the direction of my true destiny,” he writes. Today, fully and miraculously recovered, with his wife and two teenage children, he “lives only for and by Armenia, the Artsakh, and the fundamental references and benchmarks of the Armenian world.”

The presentation is free and open to the public. All are welcome to attend. A reception will follow the event and copies of Khacherian’s book will be available for sale.

For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

Armenians and the History of Photography. A Pictorial Presentation on December 9

ArmPhotography1Who knew that in the Middle East of the 19th century, the pioneers of the newly-emerging art of photography were Armenians?

That is indeed the case according to Dr. Joseph E. Malikian, founder of a massive, new archive of vintage photographs. Dr. Malikian will tell the story in a pictorial presentation at the Zohrab Center entitled, From Constantinople to Egypt: The Armenians in the Development of Photography in the Near East. 

The presentation will take place on Wednesday, December 9 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York, NY.

2015-11 ArmenianPhotographyMalikian.001CLICK HERE to download a flyer.

It is well established that as early as the 1850s prominent photographers emerged from the Armenian communities in many of the cultural and commercial capitals and principal towns in the Ottoman Empire. Armenian photographers such as the Abdullah Freres, Pascal Sebah and Gabriel Lekegian enjoyed tremendous success first in Constantinople and eventually in Egypt.

During this early period, Jerusalem also emerged as a center where Armenians played a dominant role in the field of photography. The leading photographer of the Armenian Convent there was Garabed Krikorian.

ArmenianPhotography1Dr. Malikian will discuss these photographers and their contributions. He will explore the reasons why the Armenians played a dominant role and were considered to be pioneers in the newly invented photographic industry in the Ottoman Empire. The presentation will draw generously upon vintage images acquired for a newly formed archive, The Middle East and Armenian Photography Archive (MEAPP). 

ArmenianPhotography2Dr. Malikian is a frequent visitor to the Zohrab Center, where he has been studying the ZIC’s small but important collection of historic photographs, some of which he will display during his lecture.

Malikian is the author of The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: An Anthology and a Photo History, published in 2011 by the Armenian Catholicate of Cilicia.

For the past ten years, Joseph E. Malikian has been engaged in the study of archival photographs as it relates to Ottoman and Middle Eastern history. During the course of his research, he initiated an internationally based project (The Middle East and Armenian Photograph Project – MEAPP) which is devoted to the collection of vintage images of the Middle East around the turn of the twentieth century, in addition to images by the Armenian photo studios from the 1850s to the 1960s.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.


The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud: A Book Presentation


On the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Zohrab Information Center and the Department of Armenian Studies of the Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern), in collaboration with the A.G.B.U. Ararat Magazine, will present a new photographic exposé of a vibrant Armenian community that rose from the ashes of that calamity. #bourjhammoud

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne will present her new book, Portraits of Survival: The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud. The author-photographer will speak about her work and exhibit many of her vivid photographs, as she tells poignant stories of survival and success.

The event will take place on Thursday, March 5 at 7PM in the Guild Hall of the Armenian Diocese, 630 2nd Avenue, New York.

2015-03 PortraitsBourjBourj Hammoud in northeast Beirut, Lebanon, is home to a close-knit, vibrant Armenian community of shopkeepers, craftspeople and artists, young and old, a thriving combination of modern commerce and traditional trades. In less than a century the area has transformed itself from a tent city of refugees — the Armenians who fled Turkey in 1915 and began flocking here in the 1920s — to a bustling urban economic center.

It is here that Delacampagne, a photographer of Armenian descent, chose to focus her lens. She spent years among the remarkable people working and living here: the tailors and cobblers, embroiderers and clockmakers, jewelers and gem cutters, and the families. The result is an unforgettable portrait of the spirit and courage, the enterprise and heritage, which forms the soul of Bourj Hammoud.

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne is a noted photographer born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her latest work is a photographic exposé of the vibrant Armenian community of Bourj Hammoud, born from the ashes of the Genocide 100 years ago.
Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne is a noted photographer born in Beirut, Lebanon. Her latest work is a photographic exposé of the vibrant Armenian community of Bourj Hammoud, born from the ashes of the Genocide 100 years ago.

Ariane Ateshian Delacampagne was born in Beirut, Lebanon. She has a master’s in political science from the American University of Beirut and studied photography at the International Center of Photography in New York. She currently lives and works in New York.

The evening is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org or (212) 686-0710.

2012-03 BourjHammoudCLICK HERE to download a color flyer. #bourjhammoud

Portraits d’une survie: les Arméniens de Bourj Hammoud / Portraits of Survival: the Armenians of Bourj Hammoud (Somogy éditions d’art, 2014) represents Delacampagne’s most intensive project to date.  Continue reading “The Armenians of Bourj Hammoud: A Book Presentation”

Ottoman Era Photographs. A Fine Exhibit at the CUNY Graduate Center

2012-12 OttomanPhotoA small but fine exhibit of vintage photographs from Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon from the late 19th and early 20th centuries is currently on display at the City University of New York Graduate Center. The Center is located at 365 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street.

Many of the images come from the renowned studios of Armenian photographers working in Constantinople such as Pascal Sebah, J.P. Sebah, Abdullah Freres, Lekegian and Bonfils. Other photographers represented include Zangaki, Arnoux, Beator, Dumas and Lehnert and Landrock.

The exhibit comprises nearly 70 high-quality reproductions of original photographs in the private collection of Dr. Joseph E. Malikian, Ph.D., author of the recent album, The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire: An Anthology and a Photo History (Antelias, Lebanon, 2011).

Many of the photographs are exquisitely crisp and dramatic portrayals of peasants in their daily life against the backdrop of village scenes, mosques and churches in Egypt and Palestine.

The exhibit is been sponsored by, and is located in CUNY’s Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center (Room 6304.24), and will be in place through May 2013.