Armenian 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

Probing the Photographic Record




On April 17, 2022, we posted a video on our Conscience 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:

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.


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Fig. 1.


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.[1]

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:

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 2b.) 

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![2]


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Fig. 2a.


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Fig. 2b.

Maria Jacobsen is third from the right.


Another rewarding 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.[3]




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Fig. 3a.

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.



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Fig. 3b.

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.  See:

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: [4]

Another especially 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.

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. [5]

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 Derinjeh.


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Fig. 4.

“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 Bedrosian.  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 Harpoot.  Each 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).

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Fig. 5.

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.)



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Fig. 6.

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 “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.

The MacDaniels 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.

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Fig. 7.


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 orphans.)

The map 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.

Even under very difficult circumstances those running the orphanages and helping maintain some semblance of normalcy had a gargantuan amount of work to do.


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Fig. 8.


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  “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.

Despite all 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.[6]

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.

Figure 9. below tells it ‘all’. 


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Fig. 9.

“Mama” Jacobsen and some of her charges.


Maria’s 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.[7]



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Fig. 10.



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Fig. 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.


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Fig. 12.


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.



[1] Karen Jeppe is fully deserving of her own major coverage, suffice that we only merely mention her here. Others are sure to take up the challenge of celebrating through video her life and work among the Armenians.  See e.g. Watenpaugh, Keith David (2010) “The League of Nations’ Rescue of Armenian Genocide Survivors and the Making of Modern Humanitarianism, 1920-1927”, The American Historical Review vol. 115, 1315-1339.

[2] See, Mary C. Masterson, Daughter of Harput Consul William W. Masterson, Dead at Age 92” by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor.  ANN/Groong June 11, 2007.

[3] ANN/Groong October 11, 2015 by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor.  Mary Christine Melikian of Worcester, Massachusetts died at the age of 89 on 22 September 2015. 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 Taylor and Krikorian entitled ‘Kazar Sarkis Melikian Studio, Worcester, Mass.’  Mary’s father, Kazar Sarkis Melikian, was an important preserver and photographer of Armenian heritage and the Armenian experience – from Kharpert to America.  We made the video of the photo albums in 2006. See:  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 that 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 (

[4] See Harpoot and Mezereh: A Glimpse into The Way it Was in 1956 When Ruth Azniv Parmelee, M.D. Visited.  She Had Worked in Both Places First from 1914 To 1917, And then from 1919 to 1922” by Eugene L. Taylor and Abraham D. Krikorian, ANN/Groong, October 3, 2017.  Compare Karen Marie Petersen’s painting with the views taken by the outstanding Netherlands travel photographer Dick Osseman, Figs. 7 to 10 (kindly made available to us years ago with permission to use).  Some very interesting film footage and commentary are offered in a video with Ara Sarafian visiting the Harput area in The Blue Book, Political truth or historical fiction? (2007) by Gagik Karagheusian, David Holloway and Ara Sarafian, Ani Sounds ca. 80 min.).  See also Voices from the Lake, the secret genocide by J. Michael Hagopian (2007) which focusses on the Kharpert area.  That video is about 86 min. long and was released by the Armenian Film Foundation.

[5] See “United States Consul Leslie A. Davis’s Photographs of Armenians Slaughtered at Lake Goeljuk, Summer of 1915”, ANN/Groong April 7, 2017, Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor.  It is curious that we never did find what we were hoping to find at Oberlin College Archives, but that visit did open yet another path. This is of course a very good example that [chance favors the prepared mind.]

[6] Detailed coverage of some of the activities associated with the movement out of the Harpoot area of orphans may be found on pgs. 400 to 409 of our chapter in the volume entitled “The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks: studies on the state-sponsored campaign of extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor, 1912-1922 and its aftermath: history, law, memory” ed. by Tessa Hofmann, Matthias Bjørnlund, Vasileiois Meichenetsidis, published by Aristide D. Caratza, New York and Athens, 2011. The efforts were nothing short of heroic.

[7] Since the diary is not the easiest book to track down in a Library and is difficult to locate on the used book market, we are presenting a copy of the catalog entry from the British Library.

Օրագրութիւն (1907-1919) խարբերդ / Մարիա Ճէյքըպսըն (Եագոպսըն); Դանիերէն ձեռագիր բնագրէն թարգմ. Ներսէս Եպս. Բախտիկեան, Միհրան Սիմոնեան


Ōragrut'iwn (1907-1919) kharberd / Maria Chēyk'ěpsěn (Eagopsěn); Danierēn tseṛagir bnagrēn t'argm. Nersēs Eps. Bakhtikean, Mihran Simonean.

      Author: Ճէյքըպսըն, Մարիա, author;
Maria Jacobsen, 1882-1960 author.

      Contributor: Բախտիկեան, Ներսէս;
Սիմոնեան, Միհրան;
Nersēs Bakhtikean translator.;
Mihran Simonean translator.

      Subjects: Armenians

      Publication Details: Ant'ilias : Tparan Kat'oghikosut'ean Hayots' Metsi Tann Kilikioy, 1979.
Անթիլիաս : Տպարան Կաթողիկոսութեան Հայոց Մեծի Տանն Կիլիկիոյ, 1979

      Language: Armenian

      Identifier: System number: 020092256

      Physical Description:  xxxi, 963 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


The translation to English of the Danish achieved through the initiative and far-sightedness of Ara Sarafian may be found at Diaries of a Danish Missionary: Harpoot, 1907-1919 (Armenian Genocide Documentation Series, 5, Gomidas Institute, Reading, U.K.). Paperback – October 1, 2001 by Maria Jacobsen (Author), Ara Sarafian (Editor), Kristen Vind (Translator from the Danish).




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