News Network / Groong
Unique Addition To Our
Conscience Films Videos On YouTube Offers A Valuable Means Of Attesting And
Attributing Photographs Of The Armenian Genocide And Its Aftermath:
A Series Of Photo Albums
Prepared By Maria Jacobsen
Missionary Nurse And Relief Worker
Armenian News Network / Groong
June 28, 2022
by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor
LONG ISLAND, NY
On April 17, 2022, we posted a video on
Films YouTube site entitled “Rehabilitation of Armenian Orphans of the
Genocide: a selective overview.” In
this video we presented an impromptu, nearly two-hour long filming of imagery
in old photo albums belonging to the Danish nurse and humanitarian, Maria
Jacobsen (pronounced Yahkob’senn). It had been carried out December 9, 2005, in
Albany, California at the home of Eileen Hadidian and
her husband Peter Trichenor. Some 17 years has elapsed from the filming to
this uploading on YouTube. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6sxnG3_uQU
Maria Jacobsen is a name
well-known to Armenians. She was one of
two Danish-born women who richly deserved the title “Danish Mothers of the Armenian Orphans.” Five Armenian stamps were issued in July
2014, in advance of the upcoming 2015 commemoration of the 100th
anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. (See Fig. 1 for two juxtapositioned
200 dram stamps; one with an image of Karen Jeppe; the other of Maria
Jacobsen.). A very special feature of
the work of each of these two women is that their
individual efforts for the Armenians covered many years. It was not a matter of dedicating themselves
to short-term service for either of them.
This Posting draws
attention to our YouTube video of the photo albums of Maria Jacobsen, whose
broad and remarkable service spanned more than a half-century. Maria Jacobsen is buried according to her
wishes in the courtyard of her beloved Bird’s Nest Orphanage in Byblos [Jubeil], Lebanon, one of the most ancient cities on
earth. See endnote.
We were fortunate enough
through the generosity of the late Karekin Dickran, a
Lebanese Armenian emigré to Denmark, who knew Eileen Hadidian as a neighbor in Beirut days, to be able to make
contact years ago with Eileen in Albany, California. Although Eileen pretty much nearly always
used her maiden name, she was married to Peter Trichenor
and they had one child, a daughter named Melia.
Eileen was an extraordinarily lovely person and an accomplished
musician. She had earned a Master’s
degree and her Doctor of Music degree from Stanford University. Sadly, she died December 14, 2012, after a
long battle with cancer. Part of her
musical legacy, especially in the East Bay area, may be found in CDs produced
through The Healing Muses. See: http://magnatune.com/artists/hadidian/
One of the many
distinctive aspects of the photos in the various Jacobsen photo albums in
Eileen’s possession, which she inherited from her mother, (who was an adopted
daughter of Maria Jacobsen) were photos ranging from the pre-Genocide and
Genocide periods at the twin cities of Mezireh-Harpoot
all the way up to, and including the rehabilitation activities in the
orphanages set up and maintained for Armenians in The Lebanon. Viewing and examining the albums today
enables one to appreciate not only the sheer volume but the development and
temporal context of the events before and during the disastrous Armenian
Genocide and its ultimate consequences.
Eileen’s husband, Peter Trichenor, now of course a widower, is retired and lives in
Portland, Oregon where their daughter Melia resides as well, and teaches. Both are pleased that our video of the albums
has been posted for general viewing and possible use.
Another feature of the
Jacobsen albums is that they permit us not only to view content and range of
photographic coverage, but also provide a means of dovetailing, and linking
with photographs taken by others on site, even if the photos were the product
of workers who were engaged in the region for a relatively short period of
time. It will be appreciated that “bits
and pieces” of information from scattered, even unlikely or unexpected sources,
can all help fill in a picture that might otherwise be lacking one or a few
details thought to be important.
All this allows for what
has been referred to as a “panorama of
contextualization” to emerge.
For example, an early
photograph shows Maria Jacobsen on the upper story porch of the Annie Tracy
Riggs Hospital in Mezireh taken on the occasion of
the dedication of the Hospital in 1910.
This is from an enlargement of a photograph showing the front of the
Annie Tracy Riggs Hospital and the notables and attendees of the dedication of
the ‘American’ Hospital’ at Mezireh (See Figs. 2a. and
This view of the
gathering at the Hospital shows a number of notables assembled, such as the
Vali [Governor General] of the Vilayet and the penultimate American Consul to Harput, Turkey, William Wesley Masterson. It might be interesting for some to learn
that we ourselves obtained some additional photographs that pertain to that
period in Harput (which overlapped with some of the
early time of Maria Jacobsen’s service) through the kindness of the daughter of
Consul and Mrs. Masterson, Mary Carroll Masterson. She was born in Mezireh
and was delivered at the Hospital by American physician Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee, who was born in Trebizond, Turkey
and was descended from missionaries who long served in Turkey. Remarkably, the Masterson family had deep
connections with a small town on the Ohio River, Carrollton, Kentucky, the
hometown of one of us, Eugene L. Taylor.
We were able to track her down quite easily and got to know her quite
well by a happy coincidence and chance!
Maria Jacobsen is third
from the right.
connection we have been personally able to make through ‘linking’, involves an
attractive color painting produced in 1917, looking down from the ‘Garden’,
used by some of the Missionaries to escape the summer heat of the upper City. It shows the Harpoot
plain below with a few of its buildings and a proximal village as viewed from
above - that is to say, from a higher elevation looking down southwards. These places are all labeled clearly. See Fig. 3a. and 3b.
Karen Marie Petersen
(1881- date of death has not been yet exactly determined, either 1961 or 1964)
certainly painted an attractive picture, and today it has become a very rare
one at that, especially in terms of what it shows in color. It is reproduced from a quality photograph of
the framed painting measuring 46 inches wide X 32 inches high, made, and sent
to us on CD by the late Karekin Dickran. It was also
interesting to us especially since the painting offered a view in color of the
town of Yegheke where Armenian American Master
photographer Kazar Sarkis Melikian was born, as well
as being the hometown of the mother of a late sister-in-law.
View of some of the Harpoot Plain as seen from the Garden.
Cf. ANN/Groong Armenian
News October 11, 2015, by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor.
Karen Marie Petersen. From a photograph in a Maria Jacobsen Album.
See photographs of her when considerably younger
in Figs. 5. and 6.
To continue briefly
about Kazar Sarkis Melikian of Yegheke
we will mention that K.S. Melikian’s daughter Mary
Christine Melikian of Worcester, Massachusetts died at the age of 89 on 22 September
2015. We posted a brief notice on ANN/Groong.
A Sad Note of Passage, And A Happy
Notice of a Major Legacy of Photographs for Armenians at The Library of
Congress: Commentary, and a Notice of a Video Posting on YouTube by Eugene L.
Taylor and Abraham D. Krikorian entitled Kazar
Sarkis Melikian Studio, Worcester, Mass.
As stated, Mary’s father, Kazar Sarkis
Melikian, was an important preserver and photographer of Armenian heritage and
the Armenian experience – from Kharpert to America, up to his death in 1969. We
made the video of the photo albums in 2006.
Those Interested in
Armenian and Armenian-related photos can also show their commitment to
preservation of their Heritage through videoing them as well. What follows in our video includes an
overview of the Melikian Project. It
includes a letter of thanks from Mary completed and finalized late in the
afternoon the day before she died peacefully and unexpectedly” See: https://groong.org/orig/ak-20151011.html 
interesting example of a video that ‘dovetails’ with what is covered in the
Maria Jacobsen albums, and which is particularly significant and useful
especially for the Kharpert area, bears the descriptor Laurence H. and Frances C. MacDaniels
American Committee for Relief in the Near East (A.C.R.N.E.) 1919-1920, Photo
Album Oberlin College Archives SG1276. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zEDfMSx8mk.
This is not the time or
place to go into detail here on how the two of us ended up at Oberlin College
Archives studying the MacDaniels Near East Photo
Album, suffice it to say that we were hoping to expand our knowledge of the
period, and gain access to relevant photos pertaining to the Armenian genocide
witnessed by the last American Consul at Harput,
Leslie A. Davis. Again, it is by pure
chance that Leslie Davis was born and is buried in Port Jefferson, Long Island
where we live. 
Fig. 4. below shows some
of the future staff of the American
Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE) assigned to Harpoot area, on the way out to Harput
from the German-constructed eastern deep water port of
“On the way”.
Going out into the Interior of Turkey from Oula
Kishla [Ulukışla]; this was
the group’s “dining car.” Front row,
from left: Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee, Mrs. Frances C. MacDaniels,
Miss Florence Miss Stively, nurse; 2nd row, Esther F. Greene’, Peggy
Niles; Amy A. Bliss, nurse; 3rd
row, Cornelius M. Janney; Alice Moore; back row, an Armenian cook with the
first name of Kourken [meaning Brave as a Wolf or
Lion] and an Armenian translator and much respected and very able Armenian
helper (formerly in the employ of the American Consulate as a Canvas) Garabed
Returning missionary Miss Mary W. Riggs is missing from the
photograph. Dr. Laurence H. MacDaniels took this picture.
Once in Harpoot the group set to work immediately, and there is a considerable
amount of archival paper material and letters once owned by the MacDaniels family and now at Oberlin Archives that provide
substantial detail. We know of two
photos of the group of relief workers that served much of their tour of duty in
of the photos seems to have been taken by 2 different cameras on the same
occasion. Although they are virtually
the same, there are some differences in the view provided, that allows the
viewer to get a slightly different or arguably better perspective. (See Figs. 5. and 6. below).
This group photograph of those who served at Harpoot is neither labeled nor dated but the negative of
the photo is at Oberlin Archives.
Moreover, a nearly identical copy (also without identifications) exists
in the hands of a MacDaniels’ daughter. It bears the
annotation in the hand of Maria Jacobsen “Harpoot
Missionaries and Relief Workers, August, 1919.” (See
Fig. 6. below.)
Caption is the same as was given for Fig. 5. above but note the
“Turkey Carpet” spread out on the ground in Fig.5. The dog Harrass is
not in this photo. The presence of ‘native’ workers/inmates is more obvious
here and one can even detect people peeking out the upper windows on the left.
Almost all are identifiable with great
certainty: little girl front left seated on the ground, is Beatrice Arshalouys [‘Dawn’ in Armenian] Dingilian,
affectionately called “Bessie” by Miss Maria P. Jacobsen, who is seated next to
her—Bessie was adopted by Miss Jacobsen; Ruth A. Parmelee, M.D.; Anna R. Ward,
wife of Dr. Mark H. Ward; second row seated, Miss Karen Marie Petersen, a Dane;
the next man with the necktie remains unidentified; (3rd from left
remains unidentified; she is not Emma
Barnum Riggs, i.e. Mrs. Henry H. Riggs, because she died on 26 April 1917 fide Jacobsen Diaries). A guess is that
neither is she Mr. H.H. Riggs’ fiancé [Frances C. MacDaniels
in a letter home dated 11 February 1920 relates “…Mr. Riggs startled us by engaging himself to one of the missionaries
who just came out. I don’t know the
technicalities of marriage of Americans in foreign countries, but I think they
will have to wait till they can reach some American consul.” (Parenthetically, Henry H. Riggs was born in
1875 and the woman here looks as if she would be a bit old for him. Be that as it may, Riggs did marry one Annie
M. Denison in Harpoot on 7 May 1920 fide Ara Sarafian, ed. of Henry H.
Riggs’ Days of Tragedy in Armenia,
Personal Experiences in Harpoot 1915-1917, Gomidas Institute, Ann Arbor 1997); Henry Harrison Riggs
[“Harry]”; his sister Mary W. Riggs; Dr. Mark H. Ward, M.D.; standing in the
back row is Frances C. MacDaniels, Miss Florence Stively, Cornelius Janney, Peggy Niles, Lee Vrooman (later Rev. Vrooman
D.D.); Gardiner C. Means (later a famous economist) and last in row Laurence MacDaniels, Professor at Cornell University. Identification of “Bessie” verified by her
daughter the late Eileen Hadidian. This photograph may well have been taken on
the occasion of the farewell party for Miss Jacobsen prior to her return to
Denmark with Bessie. Mrs. Anna Ward is
identified fide her daughter and son
and a nephew in telephone conversation.
Many images from the MacDaniels Near East album are included in the video we
uploaded some years ago on our YouTube Conscience Films
site about the so-called ‘Orphan Rug’ that was made for the American White
House. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkQQEFsXDRg “History
of the Armenian Orphan Rug Made for the White House 1925.” The video itself was entitled Story of an Oriental Rug made by Armenian
Orphans for the White House: preserving authentic memory of survivors of the
Turkish genocide against the Armenians by Eugene L. Taylor and Abraham D.
Krikorian, You Tube, December 14, 2014.
material is, in a word, very valuable not only in itself but because it allows
linking and broadening of understanding of the period at large. It is a great pity that equivalent albums
with supporting letters so far as details are concerned, do not exist for other
areas. Fig. 7. below shows a photograph
of the MacDaniels outside of their ‘residence’ in Harpoot at the Euphrates (Yeprad)
College facilities. The photo labeled in
the hand of Maria Jacobsen derives from a scan made from one of Maria Jacobsen
albums at Albany, California. Having
worked with the MacDaniels materials at Oberlin
Archives, we believe we can express our confident opinion that this is the
nicest photo of the couple together during the time of their service in Harpoot. It may be
of some interest to readers that they occupied the space occupied by Maria
Jacobsen after she left to go back to Denmark after an exhausting period during
and especially just after the genocide.
The American Committee for Relief in
the Near East
undertook a massive effort at the end of the war to help ‘salvage’ survivors
and remnants of the genocide. Most of
the efforts concentrated on the very young and young who had somehow or other
escaped concerted efforts by the Turks at elimination. Opening, or taking over houses to provide
facilities to accommodate full orphans, or half-orphans, children born of rape
and violation of Armenian women and mothers, became a high priority. Miss Mary W. Riggs was essentially in charge
of who was admitted or not admitted. The
Near East Relief map shown below gives an excellent summary of just how
extensive the efforts were. The remnants
were not that numerous though, because the map does not make it clear that the
orphanages were quite small, and one should not get the idea that massive
numbers of child survivors were necessarily involved in the Harpoot
area. (There were all told some 5,000
shown in Fig. 8. shows the general distribution of these orphanages. In the video of the Jacobsen album (and the
Orphan Rug video) an attempt is made to show these efforts, how they were
prioritized and executed.
very difficult circumstances those running the orphanages and helping maintain
some semblance of normalcy had a gargantuan amount of work to do.
The efforts to provide
the orphans some semblance of ‘normalcy’ in life are phenomenal and emphasize
just how imaginative and resourceful the care providers were.
For example, the staged
events at Mezireh for the orphans at Armenian
Christmas in 1920 are quite extraordinary and heart-warming. See https://groong.org/orig/ak-20140106.html “Christmas Celebrations for Armenian Orphans
in Mezreh (Kharpert) January 8, 1920: from letters
and photographs.” ANN/Groong January 6, 2014, Abraham D. Krikorian and
Eugene L. Taylor. The organizational
skills of the relief workers for massive projects is
clearly in evidence.
this dedication and work of those determined to carrying out ‘salvage’ efforts,
it ended up being virtually impossible to sustain the efforts for the orphans
in Asia Minor. There was massive and
consistent harassment by Turk ‘leadership’ who were running the show after the
War, despite technically being the losers, and deliberate curtailment of the
orphanage work for Christian kids and ‘returning refugees’ had to be faced and
dealt with realistically. It became very
clear that these kids would have to be moved into safer areas.
The story of
the relocation of the orphanages is too long to describe here. The Orphan Rug video featuring some of the
photographs from the MacDaniels’ album, and the
present video under notice here of Maria Jacobsen’s work covers it well, and in
a very personal way.
below tells it ‘all’.
Jacobsen and some of her charges.
diary, handwritten in Danish was translated into Armenian, and from Danish into
English, considerably later. It has a
number of images that are shown in the video.
See Figs. 10. and 11.
This photograph on the back cover of
the Diary also appears in Walter P. Davenport’s
“General Health Conditions and
Medical Relief Work in Armenia” (192l) Medical
Surgeon vol. 48. no. 2, Feb. pgs. 139 – 158. See especially at pg. 150. There the caption reads “The sidewalk his deathbed.”
Her work was
formally recognized by many. Fig. 12
shows a gathering at which many orphans now grown up are gathered to honor her.
We hope that
this ‘notice’ of the Maria Jacobsen video posting will help make people aware
of this rich resource. For us, the Maria
Jacobsen albums enabled us to visually fill out a series of events at the Harput area starting with the United States William Wesley
Masterson especially in 1909 all the way to Maria Jacobsen’s work at Harput, into The Lebanon area of Syria, and finally in
Lebanon which was formally recognized as an independent country in 1943.