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YMCA Features Armenian National Institute Exhibit on American Humanitarians During the First Republic of Armenia

WASHINGTON, DC – The YMCA welcomed the April release of the special digital exhibit issued by the Armenian National Institute (ANI) exploring the role of two exceptional individuals, who volunteered to stay in Armenia during the critical year of 1918 when fellow American relief workers were withdrawn in view of the intensification of warfare in the region.

The ANI exhibit profiles the two Americans, John Elder and James O. Arroll, sent to Armenia by the YMCA, and explains their numerous contributions towards relieving the humanitarian crisis in April and May 1918 when the armed forces of Ottoman Turkey invaded the country. Based on John Elder’s photographs and testimony, as well as additional material from the YMCA Archives, the exhibit pays tribute to the extraordinary efforts of these two men, whose achievements were widely recognized at the time.

Ryan Bean, Reference and Outreach Archivist at the YMCA Archives, who supported the project, remarked: “The Armenian National Institute has done a fantastic job telling this story. It is both tragic and heartbreaking on the one hand, and inspiring and humbling on the other. The timeliness of this exhibit is very appropriate, and I believe we could all learn a lesson from Elder and Arroll.”

In its April 24 posting on its Facebook page, where the exhibit could be viewed, the YMCA Archives extends “Congratulations to Dr. Rouben Adalian and the Armenian National Institute on the release of the digital exhibit ‘The Critical Role of the YMCA and American Relief in Armenia a Century Ago.’ This exhibit both illuminates a tragic humanitarian disaster as well as highlights the capacity of the human spirit to persevere and do good in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation.”

YMCA Europe, which encompasses 43 countries, also highlights the exhibit titled “American Relief in the First Republic of Armenia 1918-1920: John Elder and James Arroll in Yerevan, Gyumri, Sevan & Etchmiadzin,” on its website.

Vardan Hambardzumyan, who heads the YMCA in Armenia and presently serves as Executive Secretary of YMCA Europe, wrote that he was “absolutely grateful to ANI for disclosing so eloquently the story of the YMCA in the Republic of Armenia back in 1918.”

Elder and Arroll were in Armenia when the critical Battle of Sardarabad was waged in May 1918 securing the independence of the country. Working in Yerevan, Elder and Arroll focused on caring for orphans and refugees. Their contributions were recognized as critical under the circumstances, and their personal heroism, taking the risks that they did by remaining at their posts, was widely appreciated by Armenians. Celebrating their special role, a memorial postcard was issued in Yerevan featuring the two young Americans.

James O. Arroll (left) and John Elder (right)

John Elder recorded the hair-raising news from the battlefront in his journal, describing, blow by blow, the major developments of the day. On April 30, he wrote: “Discouraging news from Tillis. The British staff preparing to leave. We were advised to leave at once.” On May 16, he asked: “Has the end come at last? Official telegrams report that the Turks are bombarding Alexandropol [Gyumri]…The Turks have cut the railroad on both sides of Alexandropol, which means we are cut off from funds.” On May 21, he reported: “Alexandropol has fallen. The Turks demand the railroad to Julfa in order to transport their troops, and the Armenians are prepared to give it.” Two days later, on May 23, he gloomily wrote: “The storm clouds are rapidly approaching Igdir, only 25 miles away is reported in Turkish hands, so things look desperate.”

On May 26, he jotted down a different kind of news: “Well you never can tell what may happen. Just as the end seems at hand the pendulum swings the other way and the terrible Turk is in full retreat…After a two day battle at Sardarabad the Turks have been completely routed.”

With the establishment of peace, John Elder witnessed the momentous event of the restoration of government, which he appreciated for its historic importance, recording on August 11: “I had the thrill of attending the opening session of the Parliament of the Republic of Armenia. What an exciting time it was. A free and independent Armenia for the first time in 600 years or more! There was a great crowd present, and through an interpreter I gave an address of congratulations on the historic occasion.”

After more than a year of strenuous effort, described in detail in the exhibit, John Elder received a letter from John R. Mott, General Secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA in New York, applauding his outstanding record of service and expressing concern for his well-being. The letter begins with reference to Dr. Clarence D. Ussher “testifying to the very high value of the service which you have rendered in Armenia.” The story of Dr. Ussher was covered in a digital exhibit previously issued by ANI under the title “The First Refuge and the Last Defense: The Armenian Church, Etchmiadzin, and the Armenian Genocide.”

All of the digital exhibits posted on the ANI website are freely downloadable, and are provided to the public in high resolution to be readily printable anytime and anywhere from standard-size up to poster-size.

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)(3) educational charity based in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

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New Records Added to ANI Website, English and Turkish Language Sites Expanded

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With 7.5 million hits registered in 2017, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) websites in English and Turkish have obtained global reach as students, teachers, researchers, journalists, and public servants tap their substantial catalogue of critical records on the Armenian Genocide. In response to this encouraging trend and user feedback, ANI announced another expansion of its popular sites, adding new materials.

Sixty official documents on the Armenian Genocide, ranging from Denmark to Brazil, many of which were posted in their original language, are now all translated. The documents in this critically important section under the heading Resolutions, Laws, and Declarations are now available in their original languages, as well as in English and Turkish.

The Turkish language version of the ANI website has been growing continuously since it was launched in February 2017. More translations of key documents posted on the ANI website have been added with the goal of educating Turkish-speaking audiences about the Armenian Genocide in the face of the Turkish government’s standing policy of denying this history. The Turkish language site currently holds 72 documents, 8 encyclopedia entries, the Wegner photo collection, and FAQs, among other contents.

Well over 500 documents can now be accessed on the ANI website, including records from International Organizations, Religious Institutions, States and Provinces, Municipal Governments, Curriculum Mandates, and others. Over 200 U.S. state level resolutions and gubernatorial declarations are accessible.

A newly expanded section titled Official Reports now features reports on proposed Congressional resolutions approved by several committees, including the Committee on Foreign Affairs (previously called the Committee on International Relations), the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. These official reports of the United States Congress, such as Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution Report of 2000, and A Century of Denial: The Armenian Genocide and the Ongoing Quest for Justice of 2015, trace the progress of several resolutions introduced over the years to affirm the American historical record on the Armenian Genocide.

The release of the movie The Promise brought the Armenian Genocide to the attention of broader audiences. Writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books about the importance of films depicting this painful subject, Professor of History at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Dr. Michelle Tusan, compares The Promise to the 1919 film titled Ravished Armenia. Her article along with some other 250 interesting selections from the international press also can be accessed on the ANI website under the Press Coverage section where they are categorized for easy selection under several headings, such as Editorial, Feature Story, Film Review, Opinion, Reporting, and so forth.

In 2016 the ANI website and its associated online museum, Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA), became fully accessible on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The AGMA online museum is an interactive site depicting the entire story of the Armenian Genocide through expandable galleries, along with dynamic narratives featuring survivors and historical imagery. The online museum was launched on April 24, 2015.

Lastly, due to the popularity of the ANI digital exhibits and their particular usefulness as teaching tools, the digital exhibit “Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide” can now be viewed as an online slide show. Using historic photographs, the exhibit traces the deportation, annihilation, expropriation, and expulsion policies of the Young Turk regime and concludes with images of successful rescue efforts conducted by organizations such as the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), and the American humanitarian organization expressly created to address the plight of the survivors, Near East Relief (NER).

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)(3) educational charity based in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

ANI Genocide Website Announces Expansion

50 Official Records Affirming the Armenian Genocide Added; 30 Monuments Added to Memorials Database

ANI website

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian National Institute (ANI) announced the completion of a major expansion of its heavily-used website.  ANI updated one of the central features of the site which is widely consulted and provides an extensive catalogue of affirmation records from around the world.

As the spate of recognition and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide picked up pace with the centennial commemorations, ANI focused on obtaining the official documents attesting to this new international reality.

The documents from countries that entered the list formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide in 2015 were also augmented with official copies of declarations from prior years allowing the public to view the actual documents as well as have easy access to their text.

The current list of countries that have historically recognized the Armenian Genocide include Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Paraguay, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, and Venezuela. The list of 27 countries is supported by 55 official documents available under the section Resolutions, Laws and Declarations.

Under the category of States and Provinces, the ANI website provides dozens of state-level resolutions and declarations from nine countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. For the U.S., records from 44 states referencing the Armenian Genocide are reproduced, while countries like Spain and the UK are represented even as their central governments remain off record.

With important statements issued in April by heads of states and major religious and public institutions, these have been organized into new categories for easy access, such as International Organizations, Religious Institutions, and Heads of States, Parliaments, and Presidential Statements. A separate page reproduces all the April 24 and related statements issued by presidents of the United States from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama.

Many other sections of the ANI website were expanded including Education, Press Coverage, and the Memorials database. Some 200 Armenian Genocide memorials in 32 countries are identified, along with basic information about their location, designers, sponsors, and other features .

As previously announced, ANI notes the rapid expansion of scholarship on the Armenian Genocide and the numerous publications issued on the occasion of the centenary. These are featured under the section Armenian Genocide Resource Guide, and are grouped according to topic under Armenian Genocide and America, Armenian Genocide Studies, The Problem of Genocide, and other categories for easy identification. Over 100 publications are listed in the Resource Guide, with many others offered under the broader Educational Resources section.

The ANI website also features four large exhibits including the 10-panel Witness to the Armenian Genocide: Photographs by the Perpetrators’ German and Austro-Hungarian Allies issued in 2013; the 20-panel exhibit The First Refuge and the Last Defense: The Armenian Church, Etchmiadzin, and the Armenian Genocide released in 2014; the 24-panel exhibit The First Deportation: The German Railroad, The American Hospital, and the Armenian Genocide released in January 2015, and the 22-panel Iconic Images of the Armenian Genocide in March 2015; and a one-page poster depicting survivors in April 2015.

Because of popular interest in the exhibits which display hundreds of historic photographs, they have been made available through the Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA) and Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) websites as well. The digital exhibits are being continuously utilized and some quarter million copies have been downloaded to date.

The success of these new products has continued to sustain ANI as the leading institution providing information about the Armenian Genocide. Moreover, the combined addition of new resources on the ANI website has exponentially expanded the number of visitors. In 2013, the statistics jumped from 2 million hits to 3 million.  In 2014, over 3 million hits were registered, and in 2015, over 4 million hits have been reached.

Through the ANI website visitors can also see the online museum launched by AGMA on April 24, 2015. The new interactive site includes an introductory video and a dynamic narrative that features survivors, background music, and significant imagery. The AGMA site is slated for expansion in 2016 and the second phase of the project will include mobile-friendly access for visitors. The site is envisioned to contain the entire story of the Armenian Genocide through expandable galleries.

The ANI website also served as a major resource for media from around the world to help provide coverage of the centennial commemorations. Nearly all global media paid close attention to the meaning of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, with The Daily Mail in England, as an example, which has a circulation of 1.4 million and is believed to have a readership of 3 million, making extensive use of the historic images available from ANI.

“We want to thank all those who have sent ANI information about developments in their countries, whether new recognitions, the construction of memorials, or the release of noteworthy publications,” stated ANI chairman Van Z. Krikorian. “They all help maintain the ANI website as a central location for making this valuable data available to students, teachers, and the general public. The work that Rouben Adalian has done from the inception of this website is truly remarkable, and the fact that it is cited so prominently and often is a real achievement.”

“I especially need to thank the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute in Yerevan and the Armenian Foreign Ministry for being helpful in retrieving many of the valuable documents posted on the ANI site where the collective effort of the Armenian people on the occasion of the of the centennial of the Armenian Genocide can be viewed and appreciated,” added ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian. “I also want to note the contributions of interns and volunteers who pitched in at ANI, most notably Karina Demircyan and Mariam Khaloyan for their dedication and participation in this effort by helping to expand the ANI website, and our longtime webmaster Mark Malkasian for his standing commitment to our goals,” Adalian said.

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)(3) educational charity based in Washington, DC, and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.