Armenian News Network / Groong

Widowed through Violence, Dirt Poor, Desperate, Burdened with Heart-Wrenching Decisions Concerning Her Three Children: the appalling woes of an Armenian woman from Geghi [Գեղի] (Erzerum Vilayet) after the Hamidian Massacres: A publicity photograph of 1899

Armenian News Network / Groong
September 7, 2010

Special to Groong by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor



A photograph of a desperately poor Armenian woman and her three children, in pitiful, forlorn circumstances exists in the Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. It is merely labeled “Armenians.” This photograph has been used a number of times in the last several years. Invariably, the photograph has been adopted as a visual metaphor for the horrors, wretchedness, pain and suffering associated with the Armenian genocide that began in the Ottoman Empire in 1915. The photograph, symbolic of the travails of Armenian motherhood and childhood throughout all persecutions of Christian Armenians, was taken in Kharpert city in 1899 and therefore derives from the period following the Hamidian massacres. It was used by American missionaries to tell a story of how funds for support of Armenian orphans in Turkey could “save alive” some of them at least. It was published, apparently for the first time, in the December 1900 issue of the now very rare magazine, The Helping Hand Series, a quarterly published by the National Armenian Relief Committee (Secretary and Treasurer Emily Crosby Wheeler – of Dr. Crosby Howard Wheeler family of Harpoot city and Armenia College [name changed due to Turkish objections to Euphrates College] prominence − operating at the time of publication of the photograph from Worcester, Massachusetts). A photograph of the older Armenian child by herself was published on the cover of the December 1899 issue. A fairly severe crop of the same photograph was published once more on the cover of the June 1900 issue as a “before” picture alongside an “after” one with her younger sister following their having been taken into orphanage care. Because of the rarity of The Helping Hand Series we provide the full circumstances relating to this photograph. The value of attribution and attestation of period photographs relating to the various Armenian persecutions in the Ottoman Turkish Empire is emphasized here. Opportunities to learn more about old photographs taken during the Hamidian Massacres era and the Armenian Genocide era are unprecedented and need to be taken advantage of. The argument is made that only then can the full potential for use of such photographs be realized.

“Kheljoo grahg” [in Armenian, meaning Flaming Poor]

“Pehree’shan” [perişan in modern Turkish, also used by Armenians meaning wretched]

“Negh’uh ch’ess muhnahts’ehr ohr kid’nahss” [colloquial Kharpert village dialect statement used by many Armenian genocide survivors to convey to those who did not experience the genocide their feeling of desperate futility as they faced death on a daily basis. It translates to: You’ve not been in a tight spot so as to know what it’s like.]

“Khoshor-moshor mi’inehr” [colloquial Kharpert village Armenian signifying Do not do it carelessly [slip shod].

“Shidag-shidag badmeh” [colloquial Kharpert village Armenian signifying Tell it precisely.

[Last three are usually exhortations by older Armenians to their Young][1]


Photographs and other kinds of visual materials matter a great deal to most of us. We believe that those who do not fully share this viewpoint are deluding themselves. Even the most cautious and uncommitted academic will, we predict, end up conceding that the means of information transmittal have changed dramatically in recent years. One can safely predict that these means will continue to change so far as technology is concerned. In short, the potential of visual communication is a very important part of that change, and has yet to be realized fully.

Thomas Alva Edison, the great inventor and “Wizard of Menlo Park” (re-named Edison, New Jersey in 1954) wrote back in 1912 in the Saturday Evening Post weekly magazine that “Books will become obsolete in the schools. Scholars will soon be instructed through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture. Our school system will be completely changed in ten years" (Needham 1912).[2]

While we admit that Edison may have been more than a bit over-enthusiastic and was off on his timing, he was certainly on the right track. Today is surely the age of visual and dramatic presentation − indeed, the more dramatic the better.

The subject of this report is a photograph that seems to be gaining some familiarity, some might even say prominence, in the electronic, television and print media (see Fig. 1). Because the picture has an important albeit very distressing ‘history’ or ‘story’ to tell, we take this opportunity to do so. We also have decided against print publishing in the hope that we will reach a larger readership.[3]

Fig. 1

"Armenians." Bain News Service publisher. Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Online Catalog. Reproduction Number:
LC-DIG-GGBain-27081; Call Number LC-B2-4626-3 [P&P].

One of the several words for picture or photograph to be found in various Armenian lexicons is bahd’ger. We believe that this is an especially expressive or telling word since its root connotes that a ‘story’ or ‘history’ is associated with the image.[4]

Most will be familiar with the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, but the specific issue should be “Exactly what does a given picture represent? To what extent can we obtain greater detail as to what the ‘real’ story behind the picture is?"

Put in a more formal or academic context, the question is, first of all, "Has a given photograph been attested? That is, has the accuracy of what the photograph represents been affirmed?" Secondly, "Has the photograph been attributed? Is the photograph identifiable as to a person, place or time?" Without this information, detailed and accurate interpretation of a photograph becomes near impossible. Stated another way, and to use the terminology of those who specialize in visual anthropological studies, such images will remain frameless.[5]

Detailed attestation and attribution are much more difficult tasks to execute than one might initially think − especially if it concerns photographs from the period of the persecutions and suppressions of Armenians[6] in the Ottoman Turkish Empire − up to and through the Armenian genocide. A careful examination of various and sundry images on the Internet will quickly reveal that many who make ‘posts’ do not seem to be concerned with details or accuracy. There appears to be a supposition that what they seem to represent is sufficient. The main pre-occupation is apparently dominated by the belief that a photograph often can get a message across much better than a verbal or written description.

It is well known, of course, that photographs have long served to manipulate opinion. To say that photographs have long held a prominent place in ‘image-making’ and opinion manipulation and persuasion techniques is an understatement. On those occasions when potential users or ‘posters’ of a photograph on the Internet recognize that they are not cognizant of details, they may well realize that it could be a daunting task to investigate further. It is also fair to state that those who rely primarily on print media to communicate are oftentimes no more fastidious in their use of imagery than popular historians, journalists etc. (Martinez 1995).[7] We shall return to this point again in our Final Commentary.

Having said all this, we should make it very clear that the various massacres and genocide of the Armenians and other Christians in Ottoman Turkey need no proof or validation through photographs. The orthodox historiography and word pictures given by those who experienced what happened and went on are inevitably more dramatic than anything that can be viewed. One cannot ‘imagine’ what occurred. We emphasize as well that the mistaken placement of an image from one period of vile atrocity to another in no way materially diminishes the facts. We would argue that many imperfectly or wrongly attested or unattested and unattributed photographs have been used solely with the intent to portray universal types − all those women, all those children, all those men who suffered or were massacred. From that perspective a given photograph becomes an epitome, and thus pays little attention to the kind of particulars we deal with here. In such photographs, Armenians stop being specific persons at a specific place and time. They become ‘pure’ victims in general: universal man, universal woman, universal child, and, taken as a group, universal family. (Again, we shall return to this point.)

Our justification of all our detailed work on photographs and their attestation and attribution, their ‘framing’ as we have mentioned earlier, is pure and simple. It is better to know than not know.

The Photograph

The photograph to be discussed (Fig. 1) has appeared relatively recently in a variety of places. More than likely its availability on-line at no cost and good quality has much to do with this. It may be downloaded at high resolution from the Library of Congress digital collections through its Prints & Photographs Online Catalog site. Access:-

The image, which bears the one-word caption “Armenians,” derives from the George Grantham Bain Collection (ca. 1910-1922 and comprising some 40,000 prints) (Natanson 2007).[8] They are generally considered, we have been told by a Library of Congress specialist staff authority, as “published” (versus unpublished) images. Furthermore, any copyright on images published or copyrighted before 1923 are now expired. Most things in the Bain Collection were issued before that date. They are indicated as “No known restrictions” but not indicated as in the “Public Domain.”

Recent Use of the Image

On 14 April 2010 a two-hour documentary Worse than War, directed by Mike DeWitt and based on Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s book by that name (Goldhagen 2009), made its debut on PBS television. Like many others who viewed it, we feel it was a quite good program and were pleased that the Armenian Genocide was covered in some depth.[9]

Half-way into the nearly two-hours long documentary film (at 1:01:23), a close-up of the mother with child on her back appears with superimposed cuts taken from three newspaper articles captioned “Armenians are sent to perish in desert,” “Report Turks shot women and children,” “500 Armenians slain under Turkish order.”[10]

The newspaper headings used in Worse than War derive from The New York Times, e.g. “Armenians are sent to perish…” dates from 18 August 1915 pg. 5; “Report Turks shot …Nine thousand Armenians massacred and thrown into Tigris, Socialist Committee hears” dates from 4 August 1915 pg. 1; “500 Armenians slain, forced by cold and hunger to surrender − men, women, and children were put to death” dates from 15 January 1916 pg. 2 (for convenience consult Kloian 2006).[11]

The top half of the same image appears without any caption or source in a news item entitled “Obama turns his back on Armenian Genocide Pledge” by Michael W. Chapman 10 April 2009[12]

The cover of a volume recently translated into Turkish from a book originally released in French − its Turkish title being Ermeni Tabusu Üzerine Diyalog [Dialogue on the Armenian Taboo] issued by İletişim Yayıncılık [Press], Istanbul 2010 − shows the image in its entirety on a yellow background. Seeüzerine-diyalog-1555.aspx.[13]

The image has also appeared in a severely cropped format (with the woman’s head looking right rather than to the left − thanks to the Photoshop rotation option) in an Armenian Genocide education project site The same image (in a much less cropped frame and which clearly credits the Library of Congress is used at the bottom of the page at in an “Interactive Online Lesson Plan for Teaching about the Armenian genocide.”

And to extend a bit more the range of locations where the photograph has been posted, it appears on the website of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute of the Armenian Academy of Sciences as part of the imagery relating to the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923. The Library of Congress, appropriately, is credited as the source.

At the same site just given one may also view ‘artistic’ use of the photograph on the cover in modified form of a magazine published in Barcelona, Spain in the Catalan language entitled Sapiens. It is subtitled Descobreix la teva historia [Discover your history] issue No. 66 April 15, 2008. See Scroll down to image 36 to view the cover page of the magazine. For a better quality image at a considerably higher resolution of this title page see

Anyone who examines this cover carefully (Fig. 2) should see that the young girl standing on the right hand side in the original photograph now appears on the left. While this might be described by some as “artistic license allowed by layout or design,” for us it raises important questions about the modification of photographs.

Consistent with our stated commitment to as much precision as possible, we do not appreciate changes unless they are stated as having been made.[14]

Fig. 2

Magazine cover of Sapiens, number 66, April 15, 2008,
featuring an article on the Armenian genocide in the Catalan language.

Early Use of the Image

The photograph is considerably older than some have apparently supposed. Inexact use of the photograph is, moreover, by no means limited to recent examples of the sort just presented.

The image appeared in print as early as 1916, as an illustration nominally relating to the period of the massacres and ‘deportations’ (euphemism for what was at that time often referred to as attempted ‘racial murder,’ i.e. genocide) of the Armenians. It appeared as a full page photograph in a memorial volume written by the very aged father of Mrs. Elizabeth Ussher (1873-1915), the Rev. John Otis Barrows (1833-1918).[15]

Elizabeth Barrows Ussher was the wife of famous missionary physician Clarence Douglas Ussher, M.D., best known for his medical work at Van but he was initially at Harpoot for one year.[16] The volume, scanned from a copy at the New York Public Library, is accessible as a pdf file on the Internet. It is entitled In the Land of Ararat and subtitled A sketch of the life of Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman Barrows Ussher, Missionary to Turkey and a Martyr of the Great War. (No source is credited for the photograph, or any others used in the volume for that matter. It was usual in that day and age to ignore details of that sort.)[17]

The image was also issued as a post card bearing a printed caption at the top: “No. 239 Arminian Refugees. After the massacre.” Note the incorrect spelling of Armenian.[18] (See pg. 146 of Ternon and Kebabjian in their Armenie 1900 published in 1980 for a large format, full page reproduction of the post card.) This post card must be very rare indeed as we have only seen it published in that volume, and those who we know and have wide experience in post cards (Armenian-related and others as well) have never seen it. Apparently, there is no data available that would allow one to date it. The collection of one R. Meyer of Romans [France] is given as its source in Ternon and Kebabjian. A photograph of the post card appears at the end of the numerous presentations made throughout this large format book (33 cm. high). It is certainly positioned in the volume in the context of the Armenian genocide despite the epithet “1900” in the work’s title. The page facing the image is replete with sad reflections about what would come to pass starting in 1915 in contrast to the more tranquil scenes in the collection of cards shown.

The photograph (with the mother facing right) was also used in an article written by a Agnes V. Williams entitled “Turk and Hun Turn Armenian People into Procession to Graveyard.” in the New-York Tribune 28 April 1918 on pg. 6. The caption beneath the photograph reads “The plight of the mother is the saddest of all − for such victims of Turkish depravity death seems a blessed relief.” (Recall the statement made above about universal types being portrayed and represented through a single image, e.g. all mothers and their children.)

Fig. 3

Part of a page from the April 28, 1918 issue of The New-York Tribune.
Courtesy of The Library of Congress, Chronicling America newspapers online.

It is of no little interest that the photograph was also used for visual publicity (along with many other images) in association with the serialized and dramatized version of the experiences of Armenian Genocide survivor Arshalouys (Aurora) Mardiganian. These were featured in the Hearst newspapers The New York American and Los Angeles Examiner under the title “My two years of torture in ravished, martyred Armenia.”[19] It was also published in full-length book form under the title Ravished Armenia [more commonly issued with this title in various ‘editions/printings’ in the USA] or Auction of Souls [the more usual title in England] and then in film form also by the Near East Relief as Ravished Armenia (1919).[20]

Armen Khandjian of California has made available transcriptions of the serialization and has provided imagery (unfortunately but necessarily quite poor by virtue of their being reproduced from microfilms −‘hard’ copies being exceedingly rare or even non-existent) in volume 1 of an interesting and as yet too little known work entitled The Summer of 1915 (Khandjian 2009).[21] Continued fascination with the imagery and story of “Ravished Armenia” is apparent in the release of an English-language cartoon version in color entitled “Prior to the ‘Auction of Souls.’ Based on the novel “Ravished Armenia” by Aurora Mardiganian. Art work by Tigran, Yerevan (2008).[22]

On pg. 324 of volume 1 of Khandjian’s compilation with commentary there is a reproduction of the photograph under consideration here. He has taken it from a microfilm copy of the San Francisco Chronicle of Sunday 3 January 1919 and bears the caption “One of the Eastern Madonnas − a Typical Refugee Mother. Nearly Half a Million Children have Been Orphaned.” The article in which the photograph was used is entitled “The most pathetic ambassadress in history” and was written by an Ethel Thurston.[23]

On pg. 344 of Khandjian’s volume 1 there is the same photograph reproduced from The New York American in its Sunday 19 January 1919 Pictorial Gravure Section. The image is larger in size than the one in the San Francisco Chronicle and with a more detailed caption stating “An Armenian widow of Geghi with her three children; they were rescued after they had roamed for days in the mountains.”[24] See Fig. 4 below.

Fig. 4

Enlargement of part of a page from The New York American, January 19, 1919 Pictorial Gravure Section.
Courtesy of the New York State Library, Albany.


Original Use of the Photograph

A magazine issued quarterly and aimed at raising funds to help Armenian orphans called The Helping Hand Series was published at its outset by the “National Armenian Relief Committee.”[25]

This Committee had officers who were well known, e.g. its President was, for example, Hon. David J. Brewer, who was on the US Supreme Court. The Executive Committee (not large, and not unexpectedly, rather conservative in their leanings) was comprised of a banker, attorney, and clergy, including the ever-involved Rev. Dr. James Levi Barton, one of the foreign secretaries of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM) in Boston. The Helping Hand Series was started by the experienced and very able Rev. George Perkins Knapp who was then living in Barre, Massachusetts some 25 miles northwest of the city of Worcester, the so-called “Heart of the Commonwealth.”[26]

The Helping Hand Series magazine was printed on very ordinary quality paper but it often had photographs to accompany the short articles and letters from missionaries aimed at keeping people informed of the work being done with Armenian orphans. Inevitably, a major purpose was to elicit sympathy for the relief effort and to stimulate people to send funds to support or even adopt specific orphans − either in Armenia or in America. (The expression "Save Alive" was frequently used during this period to make it clear that "saving" did not exclusively mean saving souls but especially, in view of the dire circumstances and need of the orphans, live bodies and souls. The magazine (15 cm. high) was entered at the post office as second-class matter. In the latter part of 1899 Rev. Knapp relinquished the task of editing and publishing The Helping Hand Series so as to be free for service at Harpoot ‘Armenia’ Turkey-in-Asia doing relief work after the holocaust unleashed upon the Armenians.[27]

This is not the place to go into detail on the Hamidian massacres but a quote from a contemporary source written in 1896 will suffice to place things in perspective. More modern renditions of the facts may seem more erudite, nuanced and ‘better’ documented with the extensive footnotes and the scholarly apparatus of professional historians but the facts that were simply stated long ago still remain clear and straight forward in our view. “It is of no use to mince words on this matter. We have here recounted the worst cruelties of which fanatical hatred is capable. The Turkish Government has come to believe that there was danger of an Armenian uprising. Instead of attempting to arrest and punish those who incited it, they determined to crush out by pillage and slaughter, by abduction of women and the forced conversion of men, the Armenian population itself; they determined that there should be no Armenian question in the future, and for a year and a half the slaughters have been going on and have not yet ceased.”[28]

Miss Emily Crosby Wheeler (1854-1936) was elected to take Rev. Knapp’s place, using her home at 40 King Street Worcester, Massachusetts as headquarters. This enabled her to keep ‘overhead’ costs to a minimum and allowed funds which were raised to be used maximally for the charitable work. She was intimately familiar with Harpoot, spoke Armenian and had served there for 16 years with her parents, and was there at the time of the massacres in 1896.[29]

It will be known to many readers that Harpoot was the center of a busy field of missionary activities. The ‘parish’ field was huge and it took two weeks’ journey to traverse by horse from north to south, and a full week east to west. For a succinct perspective of Harpoot one can do no better than to quote an early perspective by Rev. Dr. Herman N. Barnum[30] from his “Sketch of the Harpoot Station, Eastern Turkey” in The Missionary Herald vol. 88, April 1892 pp. 144-147.

“The city of Harpoot has a population of perhaps 20,000, and it is located a few miles east of the river Euphrates, near latitude thirty-nine, and east from Greenwich about thirty-nine degrees. It is on a mountain facing south, with a populous plain 1,200 feet below it. The Taurus Mountains lie beyond the plain, twelve miles away. The Anti-Taurus range lies some forty miles to the north in full view from the ridge just back of the city. The surrounding population are mostly farmers, and they all live in villages. No city in Turkey is the centre of so many Armenian villages, and the most of them are large. Nearly thirty can be counted from different parts of the city. This makes Harpoot a most favorable missionary centre. Fifteen out-stations lie within ten miles of the city. The Arabkir field, on the west, was joined to Harpoot in 1865, and the following year…the larger part of the Diarbekir field on the south; so that now the limits of the Harpoot station embrace a district nearly one third as large as New England.”

The evidence that the photograph of the destitute mother and her children was taken in Harpoot is clear cut. It appears for the first time in the December 1900 issue of The Helping Hand Series (see Fig. 5).[31]

Fig. 5


"This widow above had lived for months on grass and had little strength with which to carry the baby in her arms and little Markareed - Pearl - on her back while walking the weary miles that lay between Geghi and Harpoot.[32] [See Figs. 11a and 11b for general maps showing the relationship of the two locations.]

"She was about to throw Markareed into the Euphrates because she could carry her no further and feared death for the child less than slavery among the Turks who would get her if left by the roadside.[33]

"Her fellow travelers who had known the martyr husband, persuaded her, by giving aid in carrying the child, to keep on to Harpoot, where the two older children were received into the orphanage.[34]

"Recent letters tell Pearl’s story. Mrs. [Anna J. Hunt] Knapp[35] writes:-

“You will remember the queer little creature, peeping from the mother’s back. She with several others had the scarlet fever and went to the hospital. Before the proper time, she and one other were allowed to return to the orphanage, and taking cold went to a better Home.

“She was a bright little thing and all the girls in the orphanage were very fond of her. She was the one, who, though such a mite, one night said, when ready to say her prayers and the others were noisy and laughing, holding up her little fore-finger, “Hush, I wish to say my prayers now,” and immediately all became silent.

"Miss [Ada E.] Hall says:-

“I will give you an extract from a letter written by a girl in the orphanage to her supporter in America, about Markareed.

“There is scarlet fever in the city and two of our girls have died. One was scarcely four years old her name was Markareed; we all saw that she was little and when she had on beautiful clothes, she was very pretty, so she was just like a lady so we called her “Lady Markareed”.”

"Miss [Theresa Lyman] Huntington and Miss [Harriet ‘Hattie’] Seymour[36] write “She was an odd, solemn little girl. You have not forgotten how hard it is for children to keep awake in church in Turkey, sitting as they do on the floor. I have seen a whole row of heads roll over one after another, and nod helplessly on a hot Sunday afternoon. Then this little Markareed has leaned over and solemnly shaken all within reach, sitting up like a house mother among them.”

“The other orphan who went home [note lower case h here; inadvertent typesetter’s error?] was Mariam Haiajian, a very nice little girl. She left a little booklet, in which she wrote even the day before her death. She was able to walk about on Thursday, but died on Friday. The meirig (house mother) [My’rig] gave me the book and I translated a little of it. Here is a little of it.

“When I die take this little book, and give it to my meirig, that when I die, she may not weep. But if any will cry, let it be only my sister and my brother. Let not my meirig weep, because her eyes will get weak. Let my mother and all my sisters forgive me the wrong things I have done. And if you forgive me God will also forgive you. To the missionaries I am very, very thankful that they have provided for me…”

"A Letter From Miss [Caroline E.] Bush[37] of Harpoot.

"Dear friends:−

“Oh! that my head were waters and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughters of my people.” In these days I have wondered that a ‘Weeping Prophet’ did not appear among us or that a poet was not born of these most pathetic circumstances of an oppressed people, mourning their martyred dead, dwelling patiently in poverty and ever feeling over them the shadow of a fearful and threatening future.[38] Can you, in bright brave America, realize at all the overwhelming hopelessness and darkness of the people of this land?

“We of Harpoot Station have some 1,100 under our charge. Immediately after the massacres these homeless waifs kept appearing before our eyes, bereft of parents and guardians, with no bedding, or clothing and just wandering about and begging at the houses and shops.…”

In an issue several months earlier than the one with the fatherless family group, volume II of The Helping Hand Series, No. 3 June 1900 we read the following:-


“Do you recall the frontispiece of the December number of this quarterly [i.e. volume 2 No. 1 December 1899]? There you saw the little orphan saying: "Please help me" [see Fig. 6.] Recall also the mother with the baby, little Markarid, which means Pearl, on her back.

Fig. 6

"The story of these pictures has now reached us from Dr. [H.N.] Barnum." [See Endnote 30 for some details on Dr. Barnum]. "About one hundred miles to the northeast of Harpoot, in the Geghi region, was a family living in the midst of Kurdish neighbors. During the troubles of '95 they were reduced to great straits, but the husband struggled hard to support them, and keep them together. He was still a Christian − he had not denied Christ, and its enemies were not satisfied with his poverty and wretchedness. He must become a Moslem.

"Did the poor, ignorant man yield? No − to his honor be it said − he stood firm to the end and the result was that he was so badly beaten that he died, leaving this poor woman destitute, with three children to support. Having lived on herbs and roots her strength was almost exhausted when she started with a number of other refugees, for Harpoot. Day after day she walked on, growing weaker and weaker. The poor starved baby in her arms seemed heavy, and the child on her back was a burden she could no longer carry. That she might not fall into the hands of the Moslems she proposed to throw Markarid into the Euphrates by whose banks her journey lay.

"Her companions dissuaded her with difficulty, and all three reached Harpoot and applied for aid.

"Your help had come, and little Nonig,[39] or Nuvart as she is now called, was taken into the orphanage, while money was given with which to buy milk for the almost famished baby. When the cold weather began to come, the mother decided that she must go back to her distant mountain home, and she begged the missionaries to take little Markarid. She said she had not the strength to carry her, and could not feed her, but the child was so small that they felt she would be too great a care in the orphanage, so they declined to take her.

"The House-Mother, however, who had taken Nuvart, said she would be glad to take Markarid also, so she was received. A separate photograph of Nuvart was taken when she was received, and now it is placed beside that of the two children in the orphanage. Note the change wrought by a few months in the children” [see Fig. 7].

Fig. 7

There the image is tersely but accurately captioned. As Dr. [Herman N.] Barnum says:

"These pictures are merely given as examples of the transformations which are wrought in a few months in the appearance of many of the children; and this is but an illustration of the greater change which is wrought in the character and disposition of the majority of those who come to us."

Miss Theresa Lyman Huntington (later Ziegler) (1875-1945), who served in Harpoot for seven years, has more to say about the desperate Kheljoo Grahg or Flaming Poor Geghitsis who made it to Harpoot. On pg. 147 of her letters published by Gomidas Press in 1999 we read one dated October 18, 1899 and addressed to

“My very dear Father, …” I want to tell you of something which is by no means new to us, but still is strange to our civilized minds. Last spring or early summer, a company of women and children came down from Geghi, and the surrounding villages – a three or four days’ journey from us − and took up their abode in this city. They left their homes, because they had nothing to live upon. A few had land, but the Turks took it away for taxes, and now most of the women have absolutely nothing. Their neighbors can barely live, themselves, so begging is hardly profitable in that region, and they have come here where people have more. They live in companies of five or ten here and there in this city, in cellars, or other miserable holes, where hey can find shelter. The owners of these places, as a work of merit, allow these people to live in them. The women and children who number respectively 20 and 40 - 60 in all, get their bread and keep some rags upon themselves by begging, except that Aunt Hattie [Harriet Seymour] has given them a little work from her work-room − as much as she could, and the women for a time had a piaster (4 ½ cents)[40] apiece every week from the collections of our Protestant church. Now the deacon says the church can’t give any more, or rather feels that it is useless to give in this way, and Aunt Hattie is trying to induce them to go back to their villages, but they say “We shall starve there anyway. Perhaps we shall live if we stay here.” I suppose this case has many parallels in this country. The husbands of most of these women were killed in the massacres.”

See also on pg. 205 where Miss Huntington relates in a letter to her “Papa” dated August 28, 1900 that scarlet fever still rages… “a few days ago two children died in one of our Protestant families in Mezereh.”

The photograph of the mother and her children is without any doubt very engaging, and sympathy-eliciting. We believe that it would not be disrespectful or insensitive to refer to it as a real ‘tearjerker.’ Clearly it was viewed as an appropriate image for communicating the desperate need and horrible situation in which many Armenians, women with young children in particular, found themselves. It was intended for viewing by those who were either already donors or prospective donors.[41]

The image was used in a German work aimed at fund raising for orphans as well. It was printed in now old-fashioned Gothic font and the first issuance dates from 1901, going through quite a few printings/editions under the title of Deines Bruders Blut, Geschichte aus Armeniens Leidenstagen – which translates to Thy Brother’s Blood, a Story of Armenia’s Days’ of Agony.[42] The caption there in translation simply reads “Armenian widow and her children” (see Fig 8).


Fig. 8

The picture of Nuvart is merely captioned “Armenian orphan girl.” (We shall not deal here with the “Armenian orphan boy” on the same page as Nuvart. No mention is made as to the source of the original photographs from which the final images were derived but clearly the relationship and interaction between the American missionaries and the Germans who ran a school and orphanage in Mesereh [as the Germans spelled it], the town about half the size of Kharpert below the ‘mountain’ of Kharpert city was such that the photograph would have been known and made available to them.[43]

The book Deines Bruders nominally authored by “M. von O.” [Margarete von Oertsen], and went through many successive printings and today seems to be rather rare. As an aside concerning this volume and imagery in it, the cover of the hardbound copy that we have access to shows a macabre drawing of three horse-drawn carts carrying away Armenian corpses, one with an arm sticking out from beneath a cover. There blood drips onto the Galata Bridge and dogs are shown either lapping up the blood or rushing to do so.[44] (See Figs. 9a and 9b.)

It is interesting that British journalist and historian William Miller (1864-1945) provides a photograph of the carts used in hauling off bodies of those Armenians that were massacred in Constantinople. One can view them at the URL provided in the Endnote.[45]


Fig. 9a


Fig. 9b


Closing Commentary

We shall begin by commenting again on the issue of whether rigorous attestation and attribution of photographs should be at least attempted by all those who would use them. Needless to say, since the two of us have a commitment to achieving as much accuracy as is possible, the answer is “By all means, Yes.” At the same time we appreciate that there is the evolved practice, long in place and with many adherents, of believing that it is ‘small beer’ (to use the British phrase, meaning of little or secondary importance) to worry about such things. After all, how many people really want to know the minutiae that characterize a finely structured documentation? Probably not many. After all, what would one do with it even if such minutiae were available? (We will not attempt to answer that rhetorical question.) But then again, old ‘habits’ die hard?

Arguments may, of course, be made on both sides of this issue but we believe there is wisdom in the adage that if it is worth doing it is worth doing right. (Even, especially we should say, the indomitable Armenian village peasantry knew that. Refer back to the old statements of timeless wisdom quoted at the outset of this essay.) If the information is there, then one has the option of choosing to use it, according to the context or nuance desired. We believe that the statement that “probably no images are utterly silent” certainly holds.[46] But if the intent is to document, educate, elicit support or even to manipulate opinion then we would argue that there is no better way to achieve this than to have as many documented facts as possible at one’s disposal.

No doubt it is not an easy task or an appealing one for many of those who are perhaps best equipped to undertake this task, but the first step in meeting a challenge or solving a problem is to recognize that it exists. And, inevitably there comes a time in the evolution of scholarly research wherein hitherto unseen or underappreciated challenges are recognized as needing attention and ultimate resolution. That is, of course, how sub-specialties emerge. The social meaning and function of images is, it has been said many times, as important to creating memory in the present as it is to reflect their past.

The fact is that some challenges presented by photographs and their identification are very real, others are rather easy to deal with provided there is a tacit recognition that everything needs to be checked and almost nothing is to be taken for granted.

One simple example will suffice to emphasize this point. Dr. [Hagop] Martin Deranian, a dentist and independent researcher[47] has been interested in Armenian history for a great many years. He has written a quite good book on the Armenians of Worcester entitled Worcester is America. The Story of the Worcester Armenians: the early years (Deranian 1998).[48]

The volume contains many rare images, quite a few made available to him from the valuable photo collection of the late dean of Armenian photographers Khazaros Sarkis Melikian (1885-1969) by his daughter Mary Melikian. K.S. Melikian was originally from the village of Yegheki, Kharpert and a long-time resident of Worcester.

Clearly, Dr. Deranian has been careful to provide sources of the well-reproduced images that he has included in his volume. On pg. 120 he provides a copy of a photograph of “Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey” pointing out that it is from a book by A. Loucher’s [typo error for Locher] With Star and Crescent pg. 635 (1889). One could ask “What more does one want?” The answer would ordinarily be, “Nothing.” But the photograph happens not to be of Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Bloody or Red Sultan or The Great Assassin notoriety − the man who engineered and ordered the Armenian massacres of the 1890s.[49]

The image is of his older brother Sultan Mourad [Sultan Murat V (1840-1904)], the shortest duration ruling Ottoman sultan. Mourad was the eldest son of Sultan Abdülmejid. He succeeded Sultan Abdul Aziz on 30 May 1876 and was deposed after 93 days in favor of his younger brother Abdul Hamid II, nominally on the grounds of Mourad’s ‘mental weakness,’ alchoholism and tendency to have what were then termed in English as ‘fits’. The Locher volume from which the image derived does not, in fact, state that the image was of Abdul Hamid II. It merely states in reproduced handwriting “Sultan of Turkey.” Pardonably, Dr. Deranian, taking note that the volume was copyrighted in 1888 assumed it was Sultan Abdul Hamid II when it was not.[50]

It should made clear however that there are not that many easily available photographs of Sultan Abdul Hamid II to choose from. We are told that in his later years especially he was more than a bit of a recluse and certainly a paranoiac. A photograph taken quite early in London when he accompanied his uncle Sultan Abdul Aziz to England is widely used in works of a considerably later period; indeed, they are authored years after the photograph. They inevitably refer to him as the Sultan of Turkey when he was still a prince in that photograph. As an example see pg. 91 of (Greene 1896).[51] For a digitized copy of Greene’s book see Also see pg. iv of (Davey 1907)[52] at Later photographs of Sultan Abdul Hamid II are hardly flattering, see e.g. pg. ii of Sir Edwin Pears’ volume on The Life of Abdul Hamid and pg. 44 at Most would agree that he was a better subject for cartoonists than he was for the portrait photographer.

See Figs. 10a[53] through 10d for a few examples that support our latter contention.









Now to some other points of detail about the photograph.

We know the Geghi region, some 70 miles SW of Erzerum, from which the Armenian family came and the Christian names of two of the children. The family name of the group has eluded us. Following the ethics and practice of the times regarding such things as photographs of needy Armenians and especially orphans, that apparently did not seem important. Clearly the mother cooperated with the person(s) taking the photograph because she knew somehow that it would help her children. By present-day standards some purists might argue that “use was being made of them.” That would seem to us to be a bit of a ‘red-herring.’ One could equally argue that Armenians had already long been made sympathetic figures from the work of the missionaries, and indeed the American missionaries especially but not exclusively would continue to serve in that capacity throughout the many persecutions that ensued.[54]

To this extent the photograph represents the collective Armenian widow, the Armenian orphan, etc. Seen with this nuance in the back of one’s mind, it becomes a de-contextualized image and is inevitably being used to make a general appeal to humanity for help.

So far as we know, there is no extensive Geghi history (alternatively transliterated as Keghi, Kghi, K’ghi etc.) and its villages specifically. There are a couple dedicated to specific villages, and there is even one dedicated to the topography and ethnography back in 1901. The exact location of the town may be ascertained through the Fallingrain gazetteer. The present day spelling is Kiği, or simply Kigi.[55]

For convenience, we include a general line drawing map of 'Armenia' from Filian (1896).[56] Also we give an enlargement of the area that will render more easily visible the geographic relationship of Geghi and Harpoot (Figs. 11a and 11b).





The general point behind the mistaken use of a given photograph from the Hamidian massacres period to provide illustrative material for the Armenian genocide period is by no means a new issue. Professionals would refer to this as a transmigration of an image from one specific context to another.

While the genocide period was especially horrendous, the period of the Hamidian massacres was only marginally less dreadful and was on a lesser scale. In a work published in 1897 by William Mitchell Ramsay (later Sir William, 1851-1939), a Scottish archaeologist and New Testament scholar prophetically opined that “…the signs of western spirit, western education and aspirations after elementary rights of freedom alarmed the Turks, and they have set to work, after long preparation and on a carefully deliberated plan, to crush the hostile western spirit by general and indiscriminate massacre. The Armenians will in all probability be exterminated, except the remnant that escapes to other lands. There can be little doubt that about 200,000 of them have been put to death by the Turks, and I believe fully four times as many have either died of starvation and hardship, or have suffered so much from the unspeakable brutality to which they have been subjected, that they can never again be self-respecting men and women (Ramsay, 1897)."[57]

Some scholars have suggested that one might well consider the persecutions as a continuum climaxing with the genocide. That there can be a path that goes from ‘ordinary’ massacres to a genocidal process is not a new idea. Simply put it is the ‘style’ of the violence aimed at destruction of a people etc. We subscribe to that interpretation of the events. From this standpoint, one could argue and maintain that it matters little from what period ‘generic’ photographs might derive. But again, the objective for us is to be as precise as the available information allows. Pioneers on the topic of Armenian persecution-related photographic attestation and attribution Drs. Tessa Hofmann and Gerayer Koutcharian drew attention to this some years ago, and in our opinion it can never be over-emphasized (Hofmann and Koutcharian 1992).[58]

Undoubtedly, perspective is perhaps all-too-often shaped by images. Armenians, like many other groups, have experienced great tragedies in their history. We surmise that the goal of many who do not bother to check out images is ‘simply’ to offer a viewer or ‘reader’ a visual account of the tragedies. Surely the photograph that has merited so much of our attention is but a miniscule fragment in time of the inhuman suffering to which the Armenians were subjected, and if they were lucky, endured.

Craving on the part of some to have evidence for what they perceive as truth – preferably with a touch of exaggerated realism – is presumably one of the main reasons that fosters the indiscriminate use of photographs.

It will be no surprise that photographs and other images can be and have been invoked for specific purposes using text originally unintended to accompany the imagery.

We do not hesitate to say that mustering world opinion still seems to be an objective on the part of some who do not have adequate training in history and even less in image selection. The fact is that the Armenian genocide is an indisputable fact and is “hotly debated” so far as we are concerned only by those who wish for various reasons to deny it or by those who make conscious political stands. To quote Professor G. Libaridian of the University of Michigan, “The Armenian Genocide is not an historiographic problem, it is a political one.”

The Armenian genocide need not be validated, nor can it be, through photographs, and certainly not ill-selected ones.

The errors of attestation, conscious or not, as we have seen, are easy enough to explain. Many are the result of misguided attempts to attach a connotation to a photograph that will nominally bear witness and thus constitute ‘proof.’ It bears remembering that use of images for political purposes is nothing new. Uses and misuses of photographs and film footage to reflect our own contemporary interpretations and concerns deserves attention in its own right.[59]

But that is not what we are discussing here for that is a completely different topic.

What we are trying to do now is what some may called a taxonomy, that is, a classification of photographs by subcategory − in this instance to classify by timeframe and specific circumstances. Mention has been already made that some researchers have addressed the issue of what is called the migration of imagery or photographs from one context to another. That is surely what happens to a greater or lesser extent when photographs are indiscriminately used.

We have shown that the photograph of the Armenian family from Geghi was taken and published to inform donors and to try to elicit donations, mainly for orphan relief after the Hamidian massacres had run their course. It surely was not a photograph that represented a fatherless family that had been ‘deported’ from their homes in 1915 or thereafter into the deserts of Syria to either endure or to succumb to the horrific circumstances now subsumed under the rubric of the Armenian genocide. It could well have been, but it was not.

Few would disagree with the assessment that those who used the image soon after it was first taken in the late 1890s, and those who have elected to use it more recently as a photograph appropriate to the genocide have a ‘good eye.’ It is a photograph depicting excruciating poverty and misery but it has, at the same time, its own degree of attraction (in contrast to repulsiveness). To us, it is not an image that ‘horrifies or indicts,’ at least directly.[60]

We feel that it is not easy to decide what is the focal point of the image. Where does the eye first concentrate upon viewing the photograph? Surely the little girl standing on the right, Nuvart, is a lovely but sad figure, and the viewer by no means is inclined to gloss over her. The child on her mother’s back, little Markareed, with her wide open, beautiful, sad pleading eyes, is certainly a darling of a child and might well be favored by many.

Surely the expression “the eyes have it” assumes importance in this context. She is some ‘poster child’ as we might now call her.[61]

The mother’s face has a stoic aspect and is clearly, and with good reason, woebegotten. It is a pity that we have, as yet, no idea as to the family or clan name from which this sad group derived. We are not sure exactly where in the Geghi region they came from. The mother and baby (sex unknown) went back to their village. What happened to them is anyone’s guess. If they survived, the mother might well have been among those ‘deported’ in 1915. If the baby was a male and lived to be 15 or so at the time, it is fairly certain that he would have been a victim of the genocide of 1915. Grown men and the older boys or “youth” [referred to in the plural in the Armenian language of the region as dughak’neruh] would frequently under guise of being drafted for the army be taken away and killed. The mother, if she lived and was deported, might well have been among the many seniors who succumbed early on to the hardships of the ‘deportation’, and would have more than likely fallen by the roadside somewhere along the deportation route. One thing seems certain, the mother would not have had the resources to have emigrated out of the Ottoman Empire when she got back ‘home’ after leaving Harpoot. Sweet little Markareed died as we have learned in the orphanage of scarlet fever. What happened to Nuvart?

Returning to the photograph, a head scarf covers the mother's hair, throat and chin. Indeed, we use this opportunity to emphasize that many married Armenian women, in the villages in particular, adopted the practice of namahram. This is itself an interesting story that cannot be addressed here.[62]

In the photograph, the head scarf of the mother is pulled down in the area of the chin. More usually, the covering would be pulled up to a point where the mouth was covered but not the nose. We have selected a photograph from many candidate images (Fig. 12) that reflects the full range of facial covering at various levels among a group of Armenian village women in the Eastern Turkey Mission field. In some women the face is fully visible, in others quite covered and everywhere in between so to say.[63]


Fig. 12

From Mrs. Susan A. Wheeler (Wheeler 1900)[64]

And since we have mentioned and drawn attention above to sad Armenian eyes, attention may well be drawn here to another familiar photograph that has been used to represent a child victim of the genocide. Again, whereas such scenes were undoubtedly common in a generic sense, this particular photograph could not have derived from the period of the Armenian genocide in the strict sense of the term.

Some will recognize a boy child, with beautiful large, sad − some may even say pleading eyes − sometimes described as a waif originally from Tokat, or a foundling from the Syrian desert etc. − a typical child victimized by genocide that began in 1915.[65] (See Fig 13 a and 13 b.)

The photograph was published, however, as early as 1913 in a book entitled What Next in Turkey (Eddy 1913).[66] The photograph is captioned “Massacre victims in rags (pg. 155).” It becomes clear that in those cases where the boy is shown by himself, he has been cut out from the group photograph. In a word, the photograph cannot date from later than 1913. How much earlier we cannot say.





There are a number of photographs of women and children dating from the period immediately after the Armenian genocide which were taken in the Harpoot area. One especially noteworthy example may be found in a photo album at Oberlin College Archives in Oberlin, Ohio. (The same photo also appears elsewhere − both in published and unpublished form.) The Laurence and Frances MacDaniels photo album was assembled from photos taken or accessioned during and after their volunteer work from 1919-1920 with the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE), the forerunner of the Near East Relief. This sad photograph of wretched poverty as a result of the genocide may be viewed at

We dare not speculate too much on how many people are willing to spend the time and resources to study attestation and attribution of photographs and imagery. Our guess is not very many. With the current day mentality in academe to “publish or perish” in extremis it hardly seems an attractive area of research from which one could carve out even a peripheral promising niche of expertise. While the basis of this prediction is another story, it does have a bearing on the willingness to consider the value that such study can be brought to bear on the entire field of genocide studies. The challenge is for an investigator to go from wide eyed observer to a profound analytical thinker.



We thank the staff of the Stony Brook University Libraries for extending their seemingly never-endingly generous and exceedingly competent professional help. The “Armenians” photograph of Fig. 1 is reproduced with grateful acknowledgment to the Library of Congress. Dr. Barbara Orbach Natanson kindly answered a number of detailed questions about the George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library. Without the kind help of the Yale University Divinity School Library and its able staff it would have been almost impossible to have had ready access to the The Helping Hand Series. We thank the staffs of the Congregational Library Archives in Boston, the Mount Holyoke College Archives and the Wellesley College Archives for their help in enabling us to make accurate biographical statements on some of the missionaries. The New York State Library kindly provided a scan of Fig. 4.



[1] We hope that we will be excused for our readily admitted lack of regard for the rules of transliteration of the Armenian language. For us the rules in the context of our paper are unwieldy and would do little to facilitate retaining pronunciation of period dialects. Also, we have chosen not to use Armenian fonts since experience has shown that they can get lost in the shuffles associated with online transmission. Moreover, what we have written is aimed at an English-reading audience.

[2] There are several places where Edison reflected this level of enthusiasm for film as a means of revolutionizing education. See for example, Mary Master Needham (1912) Going to school at the “Movies.” An interview with Thomas A. Edison, The Saturday Evening Post vol. 185 no. 22, November 30, pgs. 18, 42.

[3] This article has come into being piece meal and has relied minimally on Internet resources for its execution. However, we have taken pains where possible to provide URLs so as to enable those interested in reading materials that are otherwise available only through large or specialized research libraries. The numerous URLs should allow readers to appreciate better the revolution that is taking place so far as access to information is concerned. The very fact that so much is now available online will hopefully stimulate more research of the sort presented here. We believe that the best remedy for unproductive emoting is to do research and to disclose and share some hitherto unknown or under-appreciated facts. The extensive and detailed endnotes have likewise been put in to facilitate broadening the reader’s perspective. It will be recognized that our Endnote contents are more voluminous than might at first seem necessary. We earnestly believe that it is better to have more detail than less because only in this way can a better understanding of the period and the events of relevance to us here emerge. At the same time, it will hopefully be appreciated that there are a number of research leads offered by so doing.

[4] The word photograph is derived from the Greek phos meaning light and graphi meaning drawing. Marina Warner in her Phantasmagoria : Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the Twenty-First Century (New York: Oxford University Press 2006) points out on pg. 164 that the “metaphors adopted by the medium – including the word pellicola, little skin, for film itself in Italian - presents a powerful instance of a figure of speech materializing into substance.” In Armenian the equivalent and more learned or erudite word for photograph is lousa’nu’gar, frequently contracted to nu’gar. We believe that bahd’ger is closer to what Warner is expressing.

[5] There is a relatively new subfield of cultural anthropology called visual anthropology. In its broadest context it casts so large a net as to include everything associated with visual phenomena in culture and society. Oftentimes, it is a study of social commentary through pictures. All aspects of culture that are visible from non-verbal communication can be included.

[6] This applies equally to the Greeks and Assyrians.

[7] For an excellent treatment of why most ‘traditional’ historians do not take research on photographs as a legitimate area of inquiry see Katherine Martinez, "Imaging the Past: Historians, Visual Images, and the Contested Definition of History," Visual Resources 11, no. 1 (1995): 21-45. ‘Popular’ historians such as movie makers, journalists, magazine article writers, novelists and even more serious popular historians, i.e. those who are not in professional venues like universities etc., are arguably certainly no more concerned with accuracy of the sort we are attempting to deal with in this communication.

[8] For an excellent and very readable discussion of the Collection see Barbara Orbach Natanson, "Worth a Billion Words? Library of Congress Pictures Online," Journal of American History 94, no. 1 (2007): 99-111. Bain not only produced photographs but collected them as well for use in his news photo service. For matters of copyright and credits see

[9] Dr. Goldhagen, formerly on the faculty at Harvard University, is perhaps unfortunately best known for the controversies he has been involved in concerning his much publicized book Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1996). See Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Worse Than War : Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity, 1st ed. (New York: PublicAffairs 2009) gives considerable attention to the Armenian genocide. The only image relating to the Armenian genocide used in that work is on pg.106. Henry Morgenthau’s memoirs Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (Garden City: N.Y., Doubleday, Page 1918) is given as the source of the picture in the credits section near the end of the volume. In fact, this now very familiar ‘Morgenthau volume’ photograph was early published in an English-language book written by Rev. Joseph K. Greene, entitled Leavening the Levant (Boston: Pilgrim Press 1916 following pg. 48). It also appeared on the cover of an issue of a Russian-language magazine Armianskii viestnik [Armenian News Magazine] published in Moscow in that same time-frame (October 1916 to be exact). Goldhagen’s caption “Armenian death march victims” is arguable but that is another story. For a digitized copy of Greene see

[10] For access to the entire film go to

[11] Richard D. Kloian The Armenian genocide : news accounts from the American Press, 1915-1922 (Richmond California, Heritage Pr. 2006).

[12] is an ultra right-wing organization and it seems to us a matter of ‘strange bedfellows’ indeed when the extreme right supports Armenian Genocide Recognition by anyone, much less the U.S.A. The motivation behind the criticism of this particular U.S. President (Mr. Barack Obama) will not be difficult to interpret?

[13] It should be mentioned that it is by no means uncommon for a translated book to be issued with different covers or dust jackets; even books in the same language may be released under different titles. (Interestingly, copyright laws do not protect book titles.) The original French version published in Paris (2009) shows a different photograph on the cover. We will forego advancing any comments on that image, or the practice of using a different photograph on the cover of a translation. The version in French may be seen atÉNIEN-AHMET-INSEL/dp/2867465222. We thank Nikolaos Hlamides for drawing our attention to the French edition and for kindly commenting on the Turkish title and its use for publicity purposes involving Turkish-Armenian rapprochement, especially in Istanbul.

[14] See /orig/ak-20100222.html for so extreme an example of mis-attribution and attestation and ‘doctoring’ that we felt compelled to expound on it in detail not so long ago. It concerns a forgery:- The Saga Surrounding a Forged Photograph from the Era of the Armenian Genocide Demonizing and Vilifying a `Cruel Turkish Official': A part of `the rest of the story' by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor 22 February 2010.

[15] “Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman Barrows Ussher, daughter of Rev. John Otis Barrows, formerly of Western Turkey Mission; born at Caesarea, Turkey, October 20, 1873; studied in Northfield Seminary and Women’s College, Baltimore; embarked from Boston, October 18, 1899; married Dr. Ussher at Van, Turkey, June 26, 1900; visited the United States, arriving at New York, July 8, 1908; re-embarked from Boston, July 24, 1909. Died at Van 14 July (date added by ADK and ELT) 1915.”

[16] For a personalized appreciation of Dr. Ussher and his wife see B. Der Bedrosian "Dr. Clarence D. Ussher" in The Armenian Review Vol. 9 pgs. 85-89 (1956). Dr. Ussher’s dates are 1870-1955.

[17] See pg. facing 136 where the photograph is captioned “Fleeing From Massacre” in John Otis Barrows, In the Land of Ararat, a Sketch of the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth Freeman Barrows Ussher, Missionary to Turkey and a Martyr of the Great War (New York: Chicago Fleming H. Revell 1916). For a digitized copy see For the events at Van and Mrs. Ussher’s work see Knapp 1915 Grace H. Knapp, The Mission at Van : In Turkey in War Time (Privt. print. 1916). For a digitized copy see

[18] For a concise history of the Arminians with whom the type-setter or printer may possibly have become confused see

[19] Some might wish to argue that the word ‘sensationalized’ would perhaps be more appropriate in a few places in the promotional literature for the film rather than ‘dramatized’ because, for example, its makes the claim that she was “The Only Christian Armenian Girl to Escape at Last from the Murdering Turks and Kurds and the Wicked Harem’s of the Sultan’s Bloodthirsty Officials, Reveals, for the First Time the Details of the Wholesale Massacres and the Seizure of Thousands of Young Women, Which She Witnessed.” Despite this very common ‘Hollywood approach’ to promotion, the essentials of the film depict the atrocities with a good degree of fidelity. To view an example of the so far salvaged parts of the film presented in three parts see

[20] Aurora Mardiganian, Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian, ed. Anthony Slide, vol. No. 57, Filmmakers Series (Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 1997).

[21] Khandjian, Melkon Armen Nercissian. Researcher and Editor, 2009. The Summer of 1915. The Genocide of the Christian Armenian Nation and the Christianocide of Asia Minor by the “Terrible Turk.” Ravished Armenia. “My two years of torture by the Turks” − The Diary of Arshalouys Aurora Mardiganian. The eyewitness story of the Christian Armenian girl who survived the deportations and the Armenocide. Volume I. 624 pgs; Volume II. 384 pgs [unnumbered], Encino, California: Black Cross of Van Publisher Narazoon. (Note: The name of the author/compiler as given here is not an error.)

[22] Aurora Mardiganian, Tigran, and Sossi Ghazarian-Kevonian, eds., Prior to the "Auction of Souls" : Based on the Novel "Ravished Armenia" (Yerevan, Armenia: 2008).

[23] Use of the descriptor ‘Madonna’ seems a little out of place in this particular context since icons are not used in the Armenian Church. Even the origin of medieval “Byzantine Madonna” Paintings and Icons have been shown to have an Italian [Roman Catholic] connection. (See Anne Derbes, "Siena and the Levant in the Later Dugento," Gesta 28, no. 2 (1989): 190-204 for some imagery from Armenian illuminated manuscript work depicting Mother of God and child “Sourp Asdvadzadzin or Mayr Asdvadzadzin.”) The term “Madonna” might well have derived from use in the works of the pioneer New York social photographer Lewis Wickes Hine (1874-1940) which were popular in the period of extensive immigration in the early 1900s. Hine’s moving photographs such as the Madonna of Ellis Island may be still be appreciated today thanks to the Ellis Island Series at Eastman Museum Rochester, New York. These are available on line at Many may well recognize the imagery of the photographs that were taken by Hine even though they may not know that he was the photographer. Hine is well known for his telling statement about his craft. “If I could tell the story in words, I would not need to lug a camera.” Hine has been placed in the genre of the still earlier but perhaps nowadays a bit less well-appreciated pioneer New York social photographer Jacob A. Riis (1849-1914). Riis showed what tenement life and pauperism was like in New York City after already impoverished immigrants landed and took up residence. The expression derived from the title of his book How the Other Half Lives (1890) is commonly used nowadays, although usually in the context of the “rich and famous” rather than from the original vantage point of the “down and out” so brilliantly and sympathetically depicted by Riis. See Jacob A. Riis, "How the Other Half Lives : Studies among the Tenements of New York" New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1890). For an online version go to Both these important photographers spoke from behind the camera, as it were, and are credited today as having founded the discipline of social photography and history through imagery.

[24] The page size of The New York American photogravure section insert is roughly 10 by 17 inches. (The newspaper proper is roughly 16 by 24 inches.) Hard copy of this newspaper, which is rare enough in any format and normally available through microfilm, may be found at the New York State Library, Albany. We thank them for making a scan available from their original.

[25] No effort will be made here to go into the origins of the Committee. Suffice it to say that Rev. Dr. Joseph K. Greene who served in Turkey and had edited two newspapers (one in Armenian and one in Turkish) was a driving force behind it. In the very early 1900s it was incorporated in the laws of New York State as National Armenia and India Relief Association for Industrial Orphan Homes and operated with Miss Emily C. Wheeler as Secretary and Treasurer (see Ruth A. Benedict “One woman’s service in behalf of thousands of orphans” in The Congregationalist and Christian World Vol. 88, 7 March 1903 pgs. 348-349. She eventually worked from 345 East 25th Street, Brooklyn, New York. Miss Wheeler toiled diligently for relief throughout the genocide in Worcester, alongside her mother. She kept good records and especially on orphans helped but these have not yet been found. There is ample evidence that photographic records exist. See for example Charles L. Huston papers at the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, Delaware.

[26] Rev. George Perkins Knapp (1863-1915) was born in Bitlis, Turkey-in-Asia of missionary parents, and after his education in America he returned to Bitlis and served there for six years. He also served in Constantinople for a year, and then at Harpoot from1899-1909. At the time of his death in Diarbekir he had served some 25 years among the Armenians in Turkey. For additional biographical data on Rev. Knapp see Missionary Herald Vol. 111 pgs. 511-513 (1915). As an aside, Rev. Knapp’s wife Anna J. Hunt Knapp − 1862-1954 − was born in Worcester. During the massacres of 1896 in Bitlis Rev. Knapp was arrested by the Turkish government on the charge that he was inciting the Armenians to revolt. Failing to obtain a trial in Turkey despite his persistent efforts, he returned to the United States. There seems no doubt that he had little admiration for the Turks. For some later involvements of Rev. Knapp at the Eastern Turkey Mission see for example, There his role in an episode at Ichme in 1909 is described in an essay entitled Massacres Averted in Mamouret ul Aziz [Kharpert] in April 1909: A Specific Incident at Itchme and the Role of United States Consul William Wesley Masterson by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor, Armenian News Network / Groong December 16, 2009.

[27] Harpoot city was in the Vilayet of Mamouret ul Aziz [named for Sultan Abd Ül-‘Aziz) but frequently referred to simply as Harput. In the days of Old Armenia it was referred to as the so-called nahank (state) of Kharpert which was about as a large as the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. Harpoot is but one spelling of Kharpert as transliterated from Armenian to English. Harput is the Turkish spelling. For some more details on Armenian Kharpert see Richard G. Hovannisian, ed. Armenian Tsopk/Kharpert, 1 vol., UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series;Historic Armenian Cities and Provinces 3 (Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2002). The early Congregationalist missionaries to the region knew very well that the pronunciation of Harpoot (Har-poot) started with a guttural H (for Kh) and said so in print (see The Missionary Herald Vol. 72 January (1876) pg. 5). The spelling with an ‘H’ was, of course, retained but the early printed reminder that the word was to be pronounced with a guttural sound seems to have been lost in time. On the subject of relief the following should be pointed out. It must be understood that Sultan Abdul Hamid II was what a number of diplomats and scholars of that period labeled “an accomplished hypocrite.” He is said to have been consistent, but only to the extent that he never told the truth to foreigners on matters of state. It may seem more than a little incongruous that the man who was labeled the Bloody Sultan, the Red Sultan, The Great Assassin would feign to care enough about the Armenians to give them relief after they had been massacred at his behest (see Endnote 49 for more details on this accusation). The fact is that Turkey had subscribed to agreements like the Red Cross Convention of Geneva (i.e. the First Geneva Convention, 1882; The Red Crescent for Muslim nations) that required complicity in efforts aimed at providing relief to civilians in disaster situations. Even so, as many official delay tactics as could possibly be put in place were inevitably utilized. This occurred even as official audiences were granted to would-be aid givers and with the Sultan professing to help as much as possible in this work. Sultan Abdul Hamid II was even duplicitous enough to award medals to some of those giving the relief, although the matter of presenting ostentatious and usually inexpensively made medals was commonplace and proliferated greatly under his reign (1876-1909). One can gain some idea of just how much foot dragging there was by reading a rather diplomatically written account of relief efforts made under the auspices of the Red Cross among the Armenians made at the time by none other than Clara Barton, President and Treasurer of the American National Red Cross and other experts. For example, English-language newspaper accounts and reports had to be translated into Ottoman Turkish in toto for examination by Turkish authorities before any movement was allowed. See Clara Barton, Report: America's Relief Expedition to Asia Minor under the Red Cross (Journal Pub. Co., 1896). For an online copy of the published Report volume see It is of some interest that the American Legation in Constantinople was not elevated to embassy status until 1906. Although we will not go into detail here on relief efforts during the Hamidian massacres period, it is sufficient to quote from a note entitled “The distribution of relief in Armenia” written by Rev. Edward G. Porter and published in the magazine Lend a Hand Vol. 16 1896 pgs. 188-192. “As for the government, it offers the “Sultan’s bounty” in some cases, and evidently seeks to establish a reputation for charity, but the reports from various provinces show that even in such a matter the universal Turkish practices are too apparent. The local officials give the sufferers a small dole of inferior or vermin-eaten wheat for a few days and then stop, saying that the funds have given out, while they themselves pocket a large share of the appropriation. Yet they compel the Armenians to sign receipts that his majesty’s generous provision has been duly distributed. There are no public works in Turkey upon which the needy might be employed. So these people ─ all fellow Christians ─ are thrown wholly upon foreign assistance.” Finally, it may also be of some interest, whether one thinks the word appropriate or not, that the word “holocaust” was frequently used in connection with the murder and sufferings of the Armenians during the Hamidian massacres of the 1890s. A New York Times 10 September 1895 pg. 1 article reads “Another Armenian Holocaust, Five villages burned, five thousand persons made homeless, and anti-Christians organized.” For another example of “holocaust” that can be accessed on line see pg. 415 of Marion Harland, Under the Flag of the Orient. An Account of the Battle Scenes, Historical Events, Tragedies and Romances, Marvelous Legends, Customs and Characters, Hopes and Promises of the Race of Israel. Copiously Illustrated with Engravings from Photographic Views Taken in Palestine, to Which Has Been Added the Thrilling Story of Armenia with an Authentic Account of Cruel Persecution by the Moslems. (Philadelphia: Historical Publishing Co. 1897). Marion Harland was one of the very best known of American women writers of the period. For a digitized version see

[28] See Rev. Edward G. Porter on pg. 445 of Frederick Davis Greene, M.A., Armenian Massacres or the Sword of Mohammed: A Complete and Thrilling Account of the Terrible Atrocities and Wholesale Murders Committed in Armenia by Mohammedan Fanatics, Including a Full Account of the Turkish People, Their History, Government, Manners, Customs and Strange Religious Belief, to Which Is Added the Mohammedan Reign of Terror in Armenia Edited by Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D. (Philadelphia & Chicago: International Publishing Co. 1896). For digitized version of the volume see

[29] For a general but good account of the events at Harpoot during and after the massacres and the relief work with orphans etc. see William Ellsworth Strong, The Story of the American Board; an Account of the First Hundred Years of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Boston: New York [etc.] The Pilgrim Press; Boston, American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 1910). For digitized version go to For a more modern overview of the range of activities undertaken by the American missionaries see Barbara J. Merguerian, "Missions in Eden: Shaping an Educational and Social Program for the Armenians of Eastern Turkey," in New Faith in Ancient Lands. Western Missions in the Middle East in the Ninteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, ed. Heleen Murre-van den Berg (Leiden and Boston: Brill 2007). Also see Jonathan Conant Page, Ringing the Gotchnag : Two American Missionary Families in Turkey, 1855-1922 (Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society 2009) for a readable, scholarly account of the long-serving missionary families Wheeler and Allen and their work at Harpoot. For a photograph of Miss Wheeler see pg. 192 of that work. A slightly later photograph of Miss Wheeler and her parents is to be found on the page following 222 of Rev. Dr. Joseph K. Greene Leavening the Levant (The Pilgrim Press) 1916. For a digitized version go to

[30] Herman Norton Barnum, D.D., was born in rural upstate New York near Auburn on December 5, 1826. He graduated from Amherst College, Class of 1852 and from Andover Theological Seminary in 1855. In July 1860 he married Mary E. Goodell, daughter of Rev. W. Goodell who served as a missionary in Constantinople for a good many years. Rev. Barnum joined the Harpoot Station in 1857, and his wife came one year later. The Harpoot Station of the American Board had been occupied since 1855 and permanently since 1860. The Barnums were one of the same three families (Wheelers, Allens, Barnums) who continued to serve in Harpoot until 1896. Rev. Barnum died in Harpoot 19 May 1910 and his wife Mary died nearly exactly 5 years later also in Harpoot. They had nine children, six of whom died in childhood. All were buried in Harpoot.

[31] See pages 6 -8 of Volume III No. 1 The Helping Hand Series December, 1900.

[32] The town of Geghi and its surrounding villages, in late Ottoman times was in the kaza of Geghi, Vilayet of Erzerum. The present day spelling of the place is Kiği, or simply Kigi, and is located in an İli called Bingöl. It may be located precisely through the Falling Rain Gazetteer. See or The URL provides a map as well as some history. See Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill, Like Our Mountains : A History of Armenians in Canada, McGill-Queen's Studies in Ethnic History17 (Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press 2005). She has much to say about Geghi or as she prefers to spell it Keghi. So far as we know, there is no extensive Geghi history (alternatively transliterated as Keghi, Kghi, K’ghi etc.) and its villages specifically. There are a couple of works dedicated to specific villages, and there is even one dedicated to the topography and ethnography back in 1901, and these are valuable of course but in view of this Kaprelian-Churchill’s volume becomes all the more important as a source for background information. One of the best maps in our opinion showing the geographical relationship between Harpoot and Geghi see pg. 18 of Rev. George H. Filian, Armenia and Her People or the Story of Armenia by an Armenian (Hartford: American Publishing Company 1896). For a digitized version see Since the map scan is of poor quality in the URL, we provide a better quality scan of the map in Figs. 11a and 11b.

[33] For a particularly larger than life rendition of an heroic and epic episode of the not uncommon practice of Armenian women committing suicide with a babe in arms rather than submit to Turkish or Kurdish advances see the dedication of W. J. Wintle, Armenia and Its Sorrows, 3rd edition with an additional chapter, bringing the record down to Sept. 1896. ed. (London: A. Melrose 1896). For a digitized version see It reads “To the Memory of Schakhe the wife of Grgo and many other women of Sassoon who after fighting in self-defence for twenty-four hours cast themselves over a precipice, choosing rather to pass unbidden to the presence of the All-Pitiful Father than to fall into the hands of the Turk this book is dedicated.” There are in existence, and published in various places, several touching drawings of Shakeh (one of several alternative spellings) in her final act of defiance. It might be noted however that suicides most often occurred with a single child in arms, almost never an entire family. There are instances of drowning as a result of mass hysteria and jumping of family groups into lakes and rivers but these are best documented in survivor stories from the Genocide period, not the Hamidian massacres period.

[34] Use of the word “the” suggests that there was one only orphanage in Harpoot into which an orphan might be taken. Not so. For example, in volume 1 no. 2 March 1899 of The Helping Hand Series pgs. 25-26 we read the following report by Mrs. Mary [ E.] Barnum of the [American-run/supported/supervised] orphanages in Harpoot for 1898. “Three new homes have been opened in the city, making seven, with four others in near villages, all under the immediate care of the missionaries. Thus, children who were not receiving proper care in private families in the villages are brought to the Homes. There are thirteen orphans homes in other towns of the province under competent native care. In all these are 1100 orphans under the supervision of the missionaries. Miss [Ada E.] Hall an English lady, has come to assist in this special work. The report continues: [“] The children are growing in stature, as well as wisdom and good character.” At the time of her death, Mrs. Herman Norton Barnum (1835-1915), née Mary Goodell, the daughter of Rev. William Goodell, the founder of the Board’s (the ABCFM) work at Constantinople, had spent 55 years in residence at Harpoot. She was thus the senior missionary there. She married Rev. H.N. Barnum in 1860; Dr. Barnum died in 1910. (See The Missionary Herald for 1915 volume 111 pg. 358 for a necrology of Mrs. Barnum with a nice portrait photograph. For an earlier photograph of her published in The Missionary Herald (May 1898 volume 94 pg. 205) see Miss Ada E. Hall is listed among those working at Harpoot but who were “Not under Appointment” by the ABCFM. Our guess is that she was supported by the Bible Lands Society in England. See Jean Hatton, The Light Bearer : Carrying Healing and Hope to the Middle East Battleground (London: Monarch/BibleLands 2003).

[35] Anna Knapp (1862-1954).

[36] See Stina Katchadourian, ed. Great Need over the Water: The Letters of Theresa Huntington Ziegler, Missionary to Turkey, 1898-1905 (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Gomidas Institute 1999). Miss Huntington arrived in Harpoot November 15, 1898 and returned to America in September 1905. Miss Harriet Seymour 1831-1912) went to Harpoot early in 1867 and served until 1904, amounting to a total of thirty-five years − returned for furlough in 1877. She and especially Miss Caroline Emily Bush, who arrived in Harpoot in 1870, worked very effectively as a team for many years. See the following endnote number 37 for a bit more on Miss Bush.

[37] Caroline Emily Bush was born in Connecticut in 1847. She was a graduate of Rochester Female Seminary, and arrived in Harpoot in 1870. Miss Bush served there for many years. She died in Auburndale, Massachusetts in 1919.

[38] “Earlier God had shown this emotional man, Jeremiah, how emotional He, God, is. Jer. 8:21 Since my people are crushed , I am crushed ; I mourn, and horror grips me. 22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? 9:1 Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people”.

[39] Nonig is a affectionate name for a little Noonia, which itself is often a contraction of Nonufar.

[40] Ottoman coinage saw many changes and vicissitudes but a piaster, known as a khurush (kurush) was equivalent to 40 paras. Twenty khurush or piasters made up one mejidieh. One hundred khurush made a Turkish pound (one Turkish pound T£ or TLira) was normally a gold coin worth about $4.40 U.S. For greater detail on coinage types of the period see pg. 11 of Sir Charles William Wilson, Handbook for Travellers in Constantinople, Brûsa, and the Troad. With Maps and Plans (London: J. Murray 1893). For a digitized version see

[41] The practice is carried out to this day as a means of fundraising and information transfer. See Women on the Front Lines of Health Care, State of the World’s Mothers at

[42] See Genesis (Book of Moses) 4:10 and commentary on this verse emphasizing that man's brother killing man's brother is so horrific a crime that the very earth (on which the blood was spilled) will call out to God for all time—a crime impossible to conceal. See For the original German albeit in not-so-easy to read for many Gothic type see Note also that there is another thematic title of the same ilk from a trilogy written between 1915-1918 (the original was in Danish) and recently translated. See Inga Collin Nalbandian, Your Brother's Blood Cries Out (from the French Le Sang De Ton Frère Crie. scènes de la tragédie Arménienne) In English, trans. Victoria Rowe (London, U.K.: Published by Taderon Press by special arrangement with the Gomidas Institute : Distributed worldwide by Garod Books 2007).

[43] See for example, Ernst Lohmann, ed. Skizzen & Bilder Aus Dem Orient (Dinglingen, Baden: St. Johannis-Drukerei 1898).

[44] The Galata Bridge drawing is fairly accurate and may be compared with a colored photograph accessible through the Library of Congress. See The “New Mosque” or Yeni Camii, aka Yeni Valide Sultan Camii in Turkish, (Valide Camii − valide means “mother”, ergo the mother of the Sultan Mosque) said to have been begun in 1597 and its minarets, may be seen at the distant left.

[45] See pg. 409 of William Miller, Travels and Politics in the near East (London: T.F. Unwin 1898) for a photograph of carts used to haul off bodies of Armenians in Constantinople. For a digitized version see The caption attributes the photograph of the carts to a Mr. F. S. Cobb. Frederic Stewart Cobb (1841-1899) was the Post Master of the British post office in Pera. For access to a mini-biography of Mr. F. Stewart Cobb and his role in protecting his Armenian clerks during the massacres of August 1896 see pg. 377 ff. of Henry Smetham, History of Strood (Chatham: Rochester, Parrett & Neves 1899). For a digitized version see

[46] See pg. 64 of Roger Caillois, The Writing of Stones (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985) and pg. 1 of Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria : Spirit Visions, Metaphors, and Media into the Twenty-First Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

[47] Some might say ‘amateur historian’ since he does not make his living at it.

[48] Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian, Worcester Is America. The Story of the Worcester Armenians: The Early Years (Worcester: Bennate Publishing 1998). For an early description of Armenian immigrants being queried about their "destination" and being insistent about "Voorster (Worcester) is America" see pg. 3 of John H. Aroian, Mountains Stand Firm (New York: GreenHill Publishing Ltd. 1977).

[49] Those writers who attempt from time to time to rehabilitate the reputation of Sultan Hamid II and say he was a gentle man would do well to read what his nominal `confidant' Dr. Arminius Vambery, a Hungarian Jewish scholar has to say about the Sultan and the Armenian massacres. `In the face of the everlasting persecutions and hostilities of the Christian world,' the Sultan said, 'I have been so to speak, compelled to take these drastic measures. By Taking away Rumenia and Greece, Europe has cut off the feet of the Turkish State body. The loss of Bulgaria, Servia, and Egypt has deprived us of our hands, and now by means of this Armenian agitation they want to get to our most vital parts, tear out our very entrails ─ this would be the beginning of total annihilation, and this we must fight against with all the strength we possess” (see pg 359 of Lory Alder and Richard Dalby’s The Dervish in Windsor Castle (London: Bachman & Turner 1979). See also in Vambery’s The Story of My Struggles. The Memoirs of Arminius Vambery (London: T. Fisher Unwin 1905), especially pgs. 367-368) where he writes “As early as the autumn of 1890 the Sultan complained to me about these intrigues, and twelve months later he made use of the expression, “I tell you, I will settle those Armenians. I will give them a box on the ear which will make them smart and relinquish their revolutionary ambitions.” With this “box on the ear” he meant the massacres which soon after were instituted. The Sultan kept his word. The frightful slaughter in Constantinople and many other places of Asia Minor has not unjustly stirred up the indignation of the Christian world, but on the other hand the fact should not be lost sight of that Christian Russia and Austria in suppressing revolutions in their own dominions have acted, perhaps, not so severely, but with no less blood-thirstiness” For an electronic copy of the volume see

[50] The image in A. Locher, With Star and Crescent (Philadelphia: Ætna Pub. Co. 1890) may be viewed on page 615 at The genre of photograph from which the steel engraving was made derives from the Abdullah Frères studio in Constantinople − see e.g. pg. 50 of Engin Özendes, Abdullah Frères. Ottoman Court Photographers, trans. Priscilla Mary Isin, English ed. (Istanbul: YKY 1998). As an aside, the grandfather of the ‘Abdullahyan’ brothers was Asdvadadour Hürmüzian. Özendes (1998 pg. 27) relates the interesting anecdote about Asdvadzadour refusing to consider becoming a Muslim. He stated that his name meant ‘God given’ and so he would (as a matter of diplomatic compromise?) accept being called Abdullah “servant of God.” Some of the Abdullah Frères photos were rendered into many illustrative formats including such things as the steel plate etching used in Locher, and even colored post card images—for which see number 33, for example, at Sultans of Turkey, American University of Beirut The fidelity of some of the images of the earlier sultans may well be questioned or contested but the latter-day sultans seem to be reliable since photographs validate their appearance in colored renditions etc. Moreover, we should by all means make it clear that Locher was not the only author who used the incorrect image of a Sultan of Turkey to accompany his text in a book published during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II of Turkey [reigned1876-1909]. In order to emphasize that there are a number instances of mistaken identity through photographs being sustained over many years wherein there should not have been any issue of error due to arguable uncertainty, we draw attention to the rather recent use of a picture nominally of Sultan Mourad (shown, incidentally, as crown prince not Sultan) describing him as “Abd-ul-hamid II (1842-1918), the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire…”. It is on page 69 of Vol.1 of Dinah Shelton, "Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity," (Macmillan Reference 2005), for table of contents go to It is unfortunate that the photograph used is incorrect, and equally unfortunate that the caption is wrong. To compound errors, the fact that Abdul Hamid II was by no means the last Ottoman sultan could easily have been checked. In the least, the writer of the caption could have at least added the adjective “autocratic” after last. And, to top it off, the photograph is attributed to a commercial source MICHAEL NICHOLSON/CORBIS. A key point concerning the photograph and its caption is that no less an authority than Dr. Vahakn N. Dadrian wrote the encyclopedia entry in which the image and its incorrect caption was embedded after the fact. In telephone conversation with Dr. Dadrian on the matter he readily agreed that the photograph was not of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, and said that he had nothing to do with image selection for his contribution. Indeed, Dr. Dadrian would never have made that mistake or the egregious one in the caption stating that Abd-ul-hamid II was the last Ottoman Sultan etc.! Impeccable authors are sometimes victims of the publication process, especially when contributing to large multi-authored works, such as encyclopedias. In such cases, there are frequently many staff engaged in the editing and production. They may well be competent in production methods but not in specifics of the subject matter. Clearly, there are many causes of mis-attestation and mis-attribution. Getting these kinds of errors set correct is no small challenge. In the generally authoritative and richly illustrated volumes by Pars Tuglaci, Tarih Boyunca Bati Ermenileri Tarihi, Pars Yayinlari (Istanbul: Pars Yayin veTic. Ltd. 2004). (In Vol. 2 pg. 470 we see once again a photograph of Sultan Murad labeled as Sultan Abdul Hamid II). All this serves to emphasize that everything needs verification. Moreover, just because one pays a photo file service or the like for their 'expertise' does not ensure that the sellers are knowledgeable or fastidiously exercise quality control.

[51] Rev. Dr. Joseph K. Greene, Armenian Massacres or the Sword of Mohammed: A Complete and Thrilling Account of the Terrible Atrocities and Wholesale Murders Committed in Armenia by Mohammedan Fanatics, Including a Full Account of the Turkish People, Their History, Government, Manners, Customs and Strange Religious Belief, to Which Is Added the Mohammedan Reign of Terror in Armenia Edited by Henry Davenport Northrop, D.D. (1896) Philadelphia and Chicago: International Publishing.

[52] Richard Davey, The Sultan and His Subjects, New Edition - revised and brought up to date by the author with a frontispiece. (London: Chatto & Windus 1907).

[53] The sources of Figs. 10 b through d will be apparent from the words on the pages in question. Fig. 10a derives from the frontispiece image in Georges Dorys’ Abdul-Hamid Intime (Paris: P.V. Stock 1901). The same picture may be viewed in the English-language translation entitled The Private Life of the Sultan of Turkey (New York: D. Appleton 1902) at Georges Dorys was the pseudonym of the son of the Prince of Samos; a former Minister of the Sultan and Governor of Crete. His real name was Anastase Adossis. “The high position that the writer’s father held in Constantinople gave the son a close insight into the personality of one of the least known of modern rulers, so far as personality is concerned”(from NY Times 7 September 1901 pg. BR 11) “ It is also interesting to note that the book was condemned in Turkey and the author was forbidden to step foot on Turkish territory. The same book notice (The New York Times 7 September 1901 pg. BR 11) we may read the following on its illustrations. `The illustrations, which are numerous and interesting, include an actual sketch of the Sultan that will be found strangely at variance with the much earlier retouched portraits that usually pass a recent likenesses.' It was said that `Western profanities like cameras were strictly forbidden. Like his neighbor, the Shah of Persia, he was a Jekyll and Hyde personality ─ described by many as a Satanic fiend (especially by the Christian factions in Europe), and by others as a benevolent and much maligned ruler' (pg. 347 of Alder and Dalby, The Dervish of Windsor Castle 1979). We will not attempt to discuss here the need for qualification of the statement that cameras were strictly forbidden. We will merely ask here where and when? See the Library of Congress site where the numerous photo albums presented to the United States are to be found Nevertheless, it is true that he apparently ‘sat’ for very few photographs. A book by one of his daughters (1887-1960) includes a late date (but undated) photograph of Sultan Abdul Hamid II with graying beard and sullen face and eyes looking downwards (see pg. facing 159 of Aïché Osmanoglou Avec Mon Père, Le Sultan Abdulhamid, De son palais à sa Prison (Paris: L’Edition Harmattan 1991).

[54] This brings to mind the use for many years of the photograph of an unnamed woman and her children often entitled “Migrant Mother” published first in the September 1936 issue of Survey Graphic, Magazine of Social Interpretation. The photograph was taken by Dorothea Lange in early 1936 in northern California. See Library of Congress Florence Owens Thompson was identified with the photograph only after many years. See Photo Icons by Hans-Michael Koertzle, volume 2, 2002 (Taschen, Cologne and London) pgs. 28-37. She was sometimes referred to as “Madonna for a Bitter Age.”

[55] For modern day maps showing the location of this small town see or or See Raymond H. Kévorkian and Paul B. Paboudjian, Les Arméniens Dans L'empire Ottoman À La Veille Du Génocide (Paris: Editions d'art et d'histoire 1992) for a map of the Vilayet of Erzeroum (pg. 417) and (pgs. 435-437) for a listing of many of the villages in the Caza of K'ghi. See also Türkiye Mülki Idare Bölümleri, Belediyeler Koyler: 1 Agosts 1977 Durumu, T.C. Içisleri Bakanligi. Iller Idaesi Genel Mudurlugu: Seri 2 Say1: 5 (Ankara: Günes Basimevi 1977) pg. 163 for names used today. While we are at it, we should re-emphasize that the provincial administration in place at the time (adopted since 1864) was that a vilayet was governed by a Vali, or governor general; a sanjak by a Mutessarif or governor ; the caza or kaza by a Kaimakan or prefect; the nahieh by a Mudir or mayor. These are very roughly equivalent to the départements, arrondissements, cantons and communes in France. The USA approximate equivalents will hopefully be apparent.

[56] Rev. George H. Filian, Armenia and Her People or the Story of Armenia by an Armenian (Hartford: American Publishing 1896).

[57] Sir William Mitchell Sir Ramsay, Impressions of Turkey During Twelve Years' Wanderings (New York: G.P. Putnam's sons: London 1897) see especially pgs. 156-157 for the quotation just made and also pgs. 190-212 ff.

[58] See Tessa Hofmann and Gerayer Koutcharian, “Images that horrify and indict”: Pictorial documents on the persecution and extermination of Armenians from 1877 to 1922, Armenian Review 45, no.1 (1992) 53-184, passim.

[59] See for example Leshu Torchin’s chapter entitled “Since we forgot: remembrance and recognition of the Armenian genocide in virtual archives” pgs. 82-97 of Frances Guerin and Roger Hallas, eds. The Image and the Witness: trauma, memory and visual culture (New York and London: Wallflower Press 2007).

[60] See pg. 97 of Armin T. Wegner, Anna Maria Samuelli et al., Armin T. Wegner e gli Armeni in Anatolia, 1915 : Immagini e Testimonianze = Armin T. Wegner and the Armenians in Anatolia, 1915 : Images and Testimonies, (Milano: Guerini e Associati 1996). The words in German to “horrify” (entsetzen) and “indict” (anklagen) were used in Armin Wegner’s diary entry for 19 October 1916 made in Aleppo while at the ‘German Sisters’ (see Armin T. Wegner Der Weg ohne Heimkehr; ein Martyrium in Briefen [The Road of No Return; Martyrdom in Letters], (Dresden 1920 pg. 169). Wegner’s choice of words for the Genocide-era photographs he took is not to be taken lightly. Attention was drawn years ago to these chilling and condemnatory words by Tessa Hofmann and Gerayr Koutcharian in the title of their pioneer paper on atrocity photographs that “horrify and indict”…published in 1992. See their pg. 54. For Wegner’s original German printed in Gothic type go to pg. 169. Also see pg. 21 of the late Sybil Milton’s "Armin T. Wegner Polemicist for Armenian Rights and Jewish Human Rights," The Armenian Review 42, no. 4 (1989): 17-40 in which she translates Wegner’s German words into English as “images of horror and accusation.”

[61] Needy children are, unfortunately, those most vulnerable and traumatized and therefore are necessarily the prime objects used for fund raising.

[62] Skeletal information gained years ago from the mother of one of us (ADK) and expanded over the years through conversation with various scholars. Na-mahram is of Persian origin. The word is in opposition to mahram (na is the Persian negative). Mahram comes from the Arabic root HRM (haram) meaning ‘forbidden’, but also means ‘protected, for instance when used in the context of certain holy sites of Islam. In the family it applies to intimates, usually the descendants of one’s parents and the parents’ siblings, or of one’s wife, or of one’s wife’s brother. These cannot be considered as prospective marriage partners, thus free social contact with them is permitted to a woman. Na-mahram is the opposite: those who can be considered as potential marriage partners, and indeed with all those with whom social contact must be circumspect. It can involve various forms of avoidance, including ‘veiling’, but these are secondary. It is interesting that Nilüfer Göle in her book The Forbidden Modern: Civilization and Veiling, Critical Perspectives on Women and Gender (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1996) and other women authors on women in Ottoman times like Reina Lewis in her Rethinking Orientalism: women, travel, and the Ottoman harem (2004) say nothing about the degrees of and the driving force behind veiling by non-Muslims in late Ottoman Turkey − especially those outside cities and large towns. Patriarchal dominance and suppression of women was a reality in Armenian households just as it was in Muslim and Greek and Assyrian Christian households.

[63] For an interesting image of the headscarf of an Armenian woman who had converted to Islam and pulled up ‘in place’ as it were see Also, for another cover photo in which the author is shown as an adolescent and her Grandmother’s head covering is considerably lowered (perhaps a bit ‘modernized’ ?) see Parenthetically, rural Turkish women, by contrast, would normally have the scarf so positioned as to cover their noses, or even more of the face. It may well be that when this photograph was taken, the intent was to show as much as possible of the mother’s morose face, her empty gaze and her sad eyes looking down. Even a writer like Stanwood Cobb who taught Latin from 1907 to 1910 at Robert College in Constantinople and was as sympathetic a person could be towards the Turks admitted their potential for viciousness. He specifically mentions the Armenian students with “woebegone faces.” Cobb added “yet if you could listen to the life history of some of the Armenians whose families had passed through the massacres, you would not be inclined to ridicule them.” See especially pg. 179 of Stanwood Cobb, The Real Turk (Boston: New York [etc.] Pilgrim Press 1914). For a digitized copy go to For a scathing review of Stanwood Cobb’s book by a senior American missionary with many years experience in Turkey see Rev. Dr. J.K. Greene in The Missionary Herald vol. 111 Jan. 1915 pp. 43-44.

[64] Mrs. S.A. Wheeler, "Eastern Turkey. The Bible Woman," Life and Light for Woman (Boston) 30, no. 7 (1900): 299-303.

[65] James Nazer, The First Genocide of the 20th Century. The Story of the Armenian Massacres in Text and Pictures, Collector's Edition (International Year for Human Rights), (New York: T & T Publishing, Inc. 1968). Also see where the masthead has an image of this child. And, it is further erroneously there stated under the heading photos and videos that the photo of the “ boy in this picture watched his parents get murdered right before his eyes. He lived as a refugee and tailed the caravan of deportees from Tokat.”

[66] David Brewer Eddy, What Next in Turkey; Glimpses of the American Board's Work in the Near East (Boston: Mass., American Board 1913). For a digitized version of the entire volume by Eddy go to See the middle frame on the page following 144 wherein one encounters a mother and her three children.

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