Armenian News Network / Groong


Armenian News Network / Groong
April 23, 2021

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

Long Island, NY

In addition to misidentification or incorrect attestation of images, one is confronted on occasion with relevant images that have been, or are still being used without specific qualification as to when they were originally used, or where or by whom they originated. Whether this has an effect on suitableness for their use in a specific, more modern-day presentation the user will have to decide.

One photograph from the post-Hamidian massacres period that has special significance in this connection is that of a very poor Armenian mother with her three children. In the course of our investigations some years back, we discovered that this photograph was available online from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division. It was a picture that had special appeal for a number of reasons that we shall explore, including the fact that downloading was cost-free since it was out of copyright and the negative was in the public domain. One appreciates at a glance that this photo shows very graphically the abject poverty of an Armenian mother and her kids. All are in rags. Their overall condition is deplorable.

Additional to the rags, the mother has a desperate, forlorn, pitiable and austere look on her face. Despite this, her general look may be described as stoic. Not much is discernible about her very young babe in arms even upon close examination. Certainly one has no idea about the baby other than it must be very young. An older daughter stands at her side and is clearly very sad. The look on her face will certainly evoke deep sympathy on the part of any viewer. The child being carried on the mother’s back, has her right hand on her mother’s shoulder and is peeking out at the camera. She is a beautiful child and her large, sad eyes straightaway become a focal point for this painful and distressing photograph (See Fig. 1 below).

When one learns a bit more about the photograph and the personal family drama it portrays, it assumes a still more heart-breaking dimension. It is not merely about poverty. It is about some of the horrible consequences associated with surviving the massacres (and later, the Genocide), against the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. It portrays dramatically the predicament that many women and children found themselves in when husbands and fathers were killed. This was all the more tragic in a traditionally patriarchal society. The photo may be taken to represent many, if not all mothers who were survivors of massacre, genocide and genocidal violence in any of its several dimensions.

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].

In 2010 we published our research about this sad image online on Armenian News Network Groong. Our delving into this photograph established that the photograph was taken in Kharpert [Harput city] at the request of American missionaries at the Eastern Turkey Mission station of the American Board and was to be used in efforts to attract funding to help with their work with Armenian orphans from the massacres of 1894 - 1896. We presented as detailed and richly illustrated an analysis as was possible in view of the information available on this photograph at that time.

The original photo was first published in the December 1900 issue of a magazine that went by the name Helping Hand Series sponsored by the National Armenian Relief Committee which had been set up and operated from Worcester, Massachusetts. The Helping Hand Series was overseen and administered by Emily Crosby Wheeler (1853 - 1936). Her parents were the pioneer missionaries at Harpoot, Crosby Howard Wheeler and his wife Anna. (For our complete posted 2010 paper see “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” by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor, Armenian News Network - Groong, September 7, 2010.

Our main conclusion was, of course, that the photograph was not directly related to the horrendous genocide initiated by Ottoman Turkey against the Armenians in 1915, or any of its subsequent tragic events and consequences. The image pertained to tragedies that befell survivors of the Hamidian massacres  ̶  widows and children of those many Armenian men who were murdered. (We will not attempt an analysis of the actual number murdered. It is a contentious issue that we will not get into here. When we decide to put on our ‘cynic’s hats’ we generally quip – “LOTS!”)

What’s more, in terms of our learning a great deal more about the image, we were able to learn the place of origin of these survivors; even Christian names could be connected with two of the children. Regrettably there was no record of the family surname.

An article entitled “Plea for Armenia” published in 1909 in various US Newspapers and The Survey magazine (New York, a magazine of social and political issues, volume 22, May 15, pgs. 249-251) provides a succinct evaluation of the situation at that time for Armenians in the Turkish Vilayet of Mamouret-ul Aziz [Kharpert province, ‘central’ Armenia] and, specifically for us and our ‘family portrait because its background harkens back to the Hamidian and post-Hamidian period in Kharpert.

Quoting from the article we read: -

“After the 1895 and 1896 massacres, central Armenia became a veritable field of orphan asylums. Different missionary organizations, the French Roman Catholic, German Lutheran, the American missions, established scores of them, at least two in each principal town, numbering in all in the neighborhood of 150 throughout the interior provinces….

“Furthermore, there had been for eighteen months famine in Asiatic Turkey. The 1895 and 1896 massacres, brutal though they were, did not decrease the supply of breadstuffs, because the farmers had done their summer work and the massacres came in October. Now [1909], the disturbances are coming at a critical time. This is the month for the farmers to plant. Should the seed time go past and another summer’s crop fail, hunger would claim the country. Long, long before the outbreak of the current troubles, it has been harassed in two ways that leave it weak. The Christian is the farmer of Asiatic Turkey. The famine has not been God’s sending. [our emphasis]

The old regime of the sultan is wholly responsible for poor conditions. Bribery and oppression at the hands of subordinate officials could be traced to his encouragement. Chiefs of different Kurdish tribes and influential Mohammedans have forcibly taken away the tillable land from Christians, on one pretext or another, mainly threatening that they would betray them as revolutionary, men – which is the biggest fear of the country, - and have turned these tilled lands into wild cattle pastures. On the other hand, taxation has been growing heavier and heavier every year. The sultan’s official goes to the poor widow who has only one son of eighteen, a sole protector and supporter who tills the land with a yoke of oxen, the only treasures that he owns. The official conducts away forcibly that yoke of oxen and sells it at auction and leaves him helpless…”

“Orphanage, famine and poverty – the toll of the massacre is not complete even with these. We must add sickness. In 1895 in those cities that were along the rivers, the bodies of the dead were thrown into the water after lying about the streets for a week or more. But in most of the towns the bodies were left on the ground on the outskirts of the cities, without burial; dogs ate them and became ferocious, and the decayed skeletons threatened cholera, had it not been for the approaching winter season. That winter, half as many as were massacred died of exposure and typhoid fever.…

“Under the constitution the provinces were to elect representatives with free votes. Instead, the Turkish officials threatened the public, especially the Armenians, into casting their votes for certain Turkish tyrants, most of whom were the leaders of the 1895 massacres. However, the Armenians succeeded in having eight representatives, two of them the most able lawyers of their country. During the nine months of the parliamentary session, repeated complaints came from the provinces that the usual atrocities were growing worse.”

Readers will know the rest.

This background provides what we think is an excellent perspective for our photograph to be understood in a broad and proper context.

We decided long ago that it was important to communicate our findings specific to this photo to the Library of Congress so that proper reference to it could be added to the much too superficial and quite general description “Armenians.”

We received no acknowledgement from the Library of Congress but finally, after considerable time, we noticed that the Library made reference to our Groong posting. The L of C entry accompanying the photo now reads: -

Summary: Photograph shows a poor, widowed Armenian woman and her children, Markarid (on her back) and Nuvart (standing next to her). In 1899, after the murder of her husband in the aftermath of the Armenian Massacres of 1894 -1896, the family walked from their home in the Geghi region to Kharpert (Harput), eastern Anatolia (western historic Armenia, Turkey) seeking help from missionaries. Photograph was published in Helping Hand Series Magazine (Armenian Relief Committee) in December 1900 and an image of Nuvart wearing the same clothes appears in the December 1899 issue of the same publication.

(Source: http:

Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ggbain-27081 (digital file from original negative.  Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. For more information, see George Grantham Bain Collection - Rights and Restrictions Information

Call Number: LC-B2- 4626-3 [P&P

The appeal at that time of the family ‘portrait’- or more accurately ‘fatherless family portrait’ - was clearly very quickly appreciated by those spear-heading fund-raising efforts for the German missionary establishment at Mezereh/Harput as well. We described in our original post that the image was reproduced in 1901 in a German work under the title Deines Bruders Blut, Geschichte aus Armeniens Leidenstagen [Thy Brother’s Blood, a Story of Armenia’s Days of, Agony, Fr. Bahn, Schwerin-i. Meckl., our copy is dated 1900 but quite a few subsequent ‘editions’ or printings were released which do not include the photograph. The ‘editions’ of Deines Bruders Blut with the image that we feature below which were released at least until 1921 in Schwerin, Germany are rare, even in German libraries. The “Deutscher Hülfsbund für christliches Liebeswerk im Orient'' was the so-called “corporate author” of these and subsequent ‘editions (See


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Fig. 2.

Image of a desperately poor Geghi family with a minimal generic-style description provided on the Library of Congress negative. “Armenian Widow and Her Children.” On the left we see daughter Nonig, her name was formalized by the missionaries, whether perfectly accurately or not in Armenian, to Nuvart. This image was printed in Deines Bruders Blut was based on a photograph that appeared on the cover of The Helping Hand Series, vol. 2, No.1, December 1899. The image also appeared, somewhat cropped, on the cover of volume 2, No. 3, June 1900. (We are not sure exactly where in the Kaza of Geghi we are dealing with.)

This is probably as good as any place to mention that we have encountered a few times a Postcard of the Geghi Mother and kids (See Fig. 3 below). The label is confused and merely states “Arminian Refugees. After the Massacre” [note spelling error using an “i” instead of “e”] This has been designated in a published work as deriving from the year 1901 (with no evidence so far as we can see). We ourselves have not seen anywhere a date of postal cancellation on a Postcard photograph and thus cannot attest to the given date when the card was at least being sent, so to say. The card is numbered No. 239 – presumably in a numbered series of one sort or other. We have not been able to delve further into this matter. A card was offered on eBay not that long ago and the selling price was a ridiculous $1000.00 US!

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Fig. 3.

“Arminian Refugees. After the Massacre.” Note the use of the incorrect designation “Arminians” rather than “Armenians.” The spelling Arminian might bring to mind for some versed in theology adherents to a kind of Christianity that had nothing whatever to do to with Armenians. But surely, not very many people would have even heard of “Arminians” much less who the term represented or their religious philosophy or beliefs. (As it turns out, the “Arminians” challenged vigorously the doctrine of Pre-destination adhered to by the Calvinists.)





Details on How Our Image Seems to have made a leap from relatively poorly known in 1900 to considerably better known from late 1916 onwards


Lacking any information to the contrary, we are now obliged to make a leap from 1900 to 1916 as to when one might encounter use of the Geghi family photograph to engender sympathy for victims of atrocious genocidal actions against Armenians in Turkey.

To be more exact, it seems that it was in the latter part of 1916 that ‘our’ photo of the destitute Geghi family resurfaced. The book in which the photograph was published was advertised as “newly published” in November 1916. We have no evidence that the photograph was used earlier than November 1916. The period of the Genocide is generally taken as 1915 onwards of course. We would not be surprised to learn that the photograph was used earlier but that question will have to remain unresolved until something turns up. 

In light of where it was published, the photo certainly would have been accepted as typifying accurately situations that were widely encountered during the Armenian Genocide. The caption to the photograph simply reads “Fleeing from Massacre”.


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Fig. 4.

“Fleeing from Massacre.” Scanned from the book 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 written by her Father Rev. John Otis Barrows (1916, Fleming Revell, New York, photograph published opposite pg. 136.

The key point is that the book was written by someone who knew quite a lot about conditions among Armenians in Turkey. The full title of the book is, as given in the caption, 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. It is now rare on the used book market, but it has been reprinted under the aegis of Trieste Publishing and others. The explanation given for their reprinting the original volume is “This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.” It also has been made available online by digitization (See

Although the volume written by Rev. Barrows (himself a missionary amongst the Armenians in his early ministerial career) to honor and memorialize his daughter who was martyred in service in the summer of 1915 was well known by the missionary establishment, it seems fair to say that the photograph became much better known during the period of the Late Ottoman Genocides. This later period became broadly defined as that of “reconstruction” in particular. The picture was used to represent and describe a typical refugee or genocide survivor Armenian mother. Some even went so far as to designate her as an example of an “Eastern Madonna.” An image in the April 18, 1918 issue of the New York Tribune (NY) bears the caption “The plight of the mothers is the saddest of all - for such victims of Turkish depravity death seems a blessed release.”

We would argue that such a photo would quickly become a dominant image in imagining and understanding assailed Armenian motherhood in Turkish Armenia.


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Fig. 5a.

The 1900 image is on the left side of this picture in this article in the New York Tribune, Sunday April 28, 1918 pg. 6 is the 1900 image. Here, the family faces right. The full, indeed quite detailed, newspaper article, written by Agnes V. Williams, is entitled “Turk and Hun Turn Armenian People into Procession to a Graveyard.”

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Fig. 5b.

An enlargement of the image with the caption “The plight of the mothers is the saddest of all  ̶  for such victims of Turkish depravity death seems a blessed release.”


Agnes V. Williams, author of the New York Tribune article shown in Fig. 5a served for a few years as Editor of New Near East, the magazine published by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief and its successors. She also wrote features for various newspapers.

Regrettably, we haven’t been able to learn much about Agnes V. Williams. She married Leslie Newlon Hildebrand in February 1920 at her home in Princeton, New Jersey and gave up her duties at New Near East magazine of The Near East Relief by the end of 1920 after giving three years of service. She certainly was in a very good position to write an authoritative article on the reality of the Armenian Genocide. She and her husband Leslie, born in Iowa in 1892, lived after their marriage in New York City. He was involved in newspaper work ever since the time of his graduation from the University of Iowa in 1914. His work in New York City was merely described as that of a publicist. It has been difficult to dig up much more on that.

The Sunday Magazine section of the San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 1919 included an image of ‘our’ family (See Fig. 6a). It is in a full-page treatment and focuses on the events dealt with or alluded to in the film “Ravished Armenia.” The article title was “The Most pathetic Ambassadress in History.” The caption to the image reads: - “One of the Eastern Madonnas  ̶  a Typical Refugee Mother. Nearly Half a million children have been orphaned.”



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Fig. 6a.

Scanned from San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday January 5, 1919, “The Most Pathetic Ambassadress in History” by Ethel Thurston, pg. 3


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Fig. 6 b.

Close-up of the Geghi Mother and kids shown in Fig. 6a.



Shortly thereafter, The New York American for January 19, 1919 included in its Photogravure Section an image of ‘our’ family captioned “An Armenian woman of Geghi (we prefer spelling Geghi since it is western Armenian pronunciation) with her three little fatherless children; they were rescued after they roamed for days in the mountains.” The two-page spread in which the photo was embedded is titled “Armenia and the Scriptures, Scenes from the unhappy land whose people trace their descent from the Family of Noah.” The photogravure attempts to relate some of the misery at that time, but the only ‘real’ photo included is that of the Mother and children. The other illustrations are only drawings of a historic nature. The page size of the New York American was 10 by 17 inches so there would be no problem seeing ‘our’ Mother and kids in some detail.

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Fig. 7.

Image of Geghi mother in original sepia color.



Let us jump ahead a bit further. A year later, in the January 1920 issue of the New Near East, one encounters an interesting photograph showing the full front of the building housing the Campaign Headquarters of the Philadelphia Branch, Near East Relief. At the upper reaches of the building is a large signboard reminding the readers that “Hunger Knows No Armistice.” Sticking up from the sign is an image of ‘our’ distraught Mother and her kids. It is a large-scale painting, not a photographic print. In our opinion, the image clearly was not painted by a particularly talented artist.


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Fig. 8a.


Image of page from the Near East Relief’s Philadelphia Headquarters.


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Fig. 8b.

Cropped image to focus on the imagery (from New Near East vol. IV. Jan. 1920. No. 7, total number 31. Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Archives who kindly allowed us to photograph their copy of the issue. There is yet another issue of The New Near East vol. 6, no.4, January 1921 pg. 22 that shows the Philadelphia Headquarters with a sign with ‘our’ family that refers to those fronts with elaborate signs for fund-raising purposes as “a speaking front.”

A photograph of the building with its sign board may be seen in Fig. 8c below.


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Fig. 8c.

Photograph dated September 23,1920, taken at South Broad Street near Chestnut in Philadelphia. Courtesy of the R.C. Maxwell Company Collection at Duke University Archives, Durham, North Carolina.


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Fig. 8d.

Close-up of the Philadelphia Headquarters billboard.



Thus, it will be clear to the reader that an appealing yet sufficiently communicative and horrifying image, justifiably viewed as well-suited to fund raising for women and children in 1899 - 1900 was retained for use almost a generation later for survivors of genocide and horrendous treatment in general, under even more dreadful and vastly more widespread circumstances. The original purpose in 1900 was to showcase what we would now refer to as a “before” shot of pathetically destitute children rescued from an ominous fate that was sure to befall them had they not been ‘saved alive,’ that is taken in and rehabilitated by the missionaries. The follow-through on this story seems to have paid no attention to the Mother or the baby. They might have fallen through the cracks, or arguably more likely, they might well have become victims of the genocide.

There is likely no need to belabor the fact that this image has been used over the years in a very large number of contexts. Inevitably the photograph of the family is now used primarily in connection with the Genocide of Armenians that began in 1915.

One volume in German by the Academic Director of the Lepsius House in Berlin, Rolf Hosfeld, uses the image of the Geghi family on the cover of a work entitled Tod in der Wüste. Der Vӧlkermord in der Wüste [Death in the desert. Genocide in the Desert.] (2015, C.H. Beck, Munich.) There is a translation into Turkish available [Çӧlde Ölüm: Ermenerilerin soykırıma uğraması (2008) Eysenyurt, Istanbul put out by ‘Transaction Publishers’ or specifically “Dönüşüm Yayınları and it appears that the cover image used is the same one used in the German publication.

Readers will now know that the image has nothing directly to do with any specific ‘death in the desert,’ or ‘genocide in the desert’ but clearly can serve to communicate the distress that ‘deported’ Armenian Mothers faced while trying to ‘save’ their young children. The tragic fact is that many Mothers died in the genocide either through direct murder by convicts released from jails, and by studied violence, or death from the trials and tribulations of deportation, hunger, disease and exposure to the elements. A Mother, such as our Geghi Mother with three children would absolutely represent the exception, and by no means the ‘rule’ to the extent that few mothers could have saved ‘three’ children.

As a very relevant aside we bring the Reader’s attention to a posting made back in April 23, 2016 by Krikorian and Taylor entitled “Armenian Immigrants Rebuilding their Lives in America”

In that contribution we drew special attention to the fact that in the photograph taken in Worcester, Massachusetts of some of the ‘Ashvuntsi’ villagers one could note the rare circumstance of two ‘Grandmothers’ from the ‘Old Country’ who had survived the Genocide AND had been able to ‘save alive’ their children. That was a rarity; indeed, so much so that the grandchildren of these two women were the only ones we knew personally who had a ‘biological Grandmother.’ One in particular, became what one might term “a grandmother at large” and was called ‘Granny’ by kids who knew she was not their biological grandmother but were pleased to have any person they could call “Granny.”

Also, printed cards with pleas begging “Save a Life” – Armenian orphans were used in various places, Kansas being one of them, in the ‘reconstruction’ period fund raising efforts. Fig. 9 below is an image of one.



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Fig. 9.

Example of a card used to solicit support.



Because of the inherently generic nature of human motherhood, we would argue that one can justifiably use the ‘original’ photo in pretty much any context one wishes.

We have seen that trying to track down the recycling of the photograph has yielded an interesting history that goes far to defend any subsequent use to get the message across. The fact is that the most knowledgeable people, like Rev. James L. Barton who wrote the Introduction to Rev. Barrow’s book, were involved in promoting the story of victimization. They never found any problem with the Geghi mother and kids photo.

Below is a 300 dram stamp issued in 20015 by the Republic of Armenia to honor Armenophile novelist, essayist, journalist and poet Anatole France (1844-1924) includes an image of our Geghi mother and her children (Fig. 10).


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Fig. 10.

Stamp issued 23 April 2015 commemorating the Armenian Genocide and primarily honoring Anatole France, the famous French man of letters. The stamp was designed by David Dovlatyan and Vahagn Mkrtchyan. It is printed by offset and is 40 x 30 mm in size.


In yet another medium, the image of little Markareed of ‘our’ Geghi family was used recently in the outside packaging of the documentary DVD “Orphans of the Genocide.” Mention was not made as to the origin of the image. (Fig. 11).

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Fig. 11.

Orphans of the Genocide.”

Directed by Bared Maronian, 2013. 91 minutes.



In 2015 ‘our’ family was featured on the soft cover of the translation from Armenian into Turkish of the 1919 volume by Aram Andonian entitled Ayn Sev Orerun [Այն սև օրերուն] – “Those Dark Days” (See Fig. 12). This might well have been the perfect occasion to use a cover that was more directly synchronized with the events recounted in Andonian’s book.

There are certainly many photographs of the genocide (1915 to 1923) available that get the message across quite effectively. But, “No”, it seems that those who put out old works with ‘new’ covers prefer to use what they believe is tried and tested. Besides, why be burdened with copyright or other issues?

Again, we found no mention of the origin of the image used on the Turkish translation cover below.

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Fig. 12.

Cover of the Turkish translation.

There is little doubt that the cover used on the Turkish translation derived at some point or other at the Library of Congress or a copy like it from some other location.

A point that we wish to interject here as an aside is this. In our opinion the original 1919 Armenian language book had an attractive soft cover and it could have arguably been used to some advantage in any reprinting effort. It would have reflected accurately, moreover, on tastes of the period. We suppose it is a matter of preference (Figs. 13a, 13b and 13c).

Fig. 13a shows a full-page reproduction of a rare cover on the 1919 first printing. Fig. 13b focusses on the lowermost part of the page. Note the human skull on the lower right. Fig. 13c provides the reader with a “desaturated” version of the colored cover. This helps give a feeling for the cover should one not wish to go through the expense in printing color.


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Fig. 13a.

Cover of the first Armenian edition published in Boston in 1919.

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Fig. 13b.

Cover cropped to allow focus on the lower part of the page.

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Fig. 13c.

Desaturated with Photoshop to get rid of color and perhaps make the image more visible.


Readers will surely be interested in reading a relevant discourse on Aram Antonean’s book Ayn Sev Orerun by Dr. Khatchig Mouradian article in the Armenian Weekly entitled The Book with a Black cover (See


Continuing on the use of the Mother and her children photograph in various settings, it will be noteworthy that some enterprising entrepreneurs took the initiative a few years ago to produce a picture pendant locket that featured a colorized image of the Geghi mother and her children. The colors are vibrant and colorization added considerably to the attractiveness of the pendant. It seems that few were produced and it may well turn out that this item will be appreciated as a rarity. (Figs. 14a and 14b)

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Fig. 14a.

Photograph of the pendant.

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Fig. 14b.

Close-up of colorized picture pendant.



A modern reprinting of the Armenian original book by Aram Andonian – made in India incidentally, uses a very plain soft cover. The title page put out by the DashnagHairenik” press in 1919 is shown in Fig. 15a.  The formal entry on the cover of the reprint has blunders since it reads “Ayn Sew Rerun: (Patkerner).” We have written to the publishers, Gyan Books Pvt. Ltd. in India to tell them that a serious mistake has occurred. There is no word in Armenian as “Rerun” – it should read “Orerun” (pronounced -oreroon) – meaning days or times. And, the word for black -- sev is far more accurate than ‘sew.’ Moreover, the ISBN given by Gyan is similarly botched up. ISBN comprise 10 digits. 13:0 4 4444006 891174 is certainly odd enough to render it useless.


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Fig. 15a.

Title page in Armenian of “Hairenik Press, Boston, 1919 printing.

Fig. 15b. shows a formal entry of the 1919 volume in the WorldCat.



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Fig. 15b.

Copy of the WorldCat entry on the first edition. The WorldCat attempts to

render all those publications known throughout the world in various libraries.


There are sure to be new fresh and imaginative uses of the image, and hopefully new findings about the photograph will emerge that will allow synthesis of a detailed time scale as to its publication ‘history’. This should provide still greater understanding of how it evolved from the post-Hamidian massacre 1899 - 1900 period image to a photograph that is still very much appreciated for being able to encapsulate at least one crucial aspect of the horrors of the Armenian Genocide – namely, how difficult it was to show any measure of resilience. The strength of Armenian motherhood prevailed to the extent it humanly could, against overwhelming odds. It also emphasizes in no small measure the apparent resignation of the kids (at least the two in the photograph old enough to feel the pain) to the care of their mother.

Closing Commentary

One might argue that the main take-home lesson from this presentation is that one should not feel that a specific photograph must be viewed as valuable only if it can be precisely attested and attributed, that is to say, if it can accurately be affirmed as to what the photograph represents (attested) and if the photograph can be identified with a person(s) (attributed). The photograph may not even necessarily conform exactly to the desired time-period.

In the case under discussion here wherein a missionary’s father, himself at one time a missionary, re-introduced an image into the literature of the Armenian Genocide – whether wittingly or not – and the re-utilization of the image after apparently being deliberately selected for use in fund-raising by a responsible body such as the Near East Relief, more than gives some real legitimacy to the issue.

It may have been merely the issue of its ease of accessibility. Recall that the Turkish government did everything in its power to prevent dissemination of information on what it was doing to the Armenians - especially photographs of the events!

We have over the years, repeatedly emphasized those features which might best be called the “the preferred desiderata” when it comes to selection and use of photographs. These should be achievable provided some work is put into the ‘project.’ It is certainly to be preferred but as we have seen, not the only approach.

This paper essentially constitutes a rather complete paper trail from ‘our’ original photograph of destitution and need, and its deliberate adoption for fund raising and educational purposes. To be sarcastic about the matter of need, it seems to come down to the Yogi Berra cliché “it’s déja vu all over again.”

We have provided the reader with a detailed paper trail of the Geghi Mother and her kids photograph and have hopefully given a broad perspective of what the Armenian widows and orphans had to go through.

Two pages from a journal called The Homiletic Review published in 1899 paint a broad picture. These are shown below as Fig. 16a and Fig. 16b.

The pages give not only a broad view of the situation but some very detailed specifics of “The Present Armenian Condition.” Interestingly, there is some mention of The Helping Hand Series that played such a prominent role in getting the story out about ‘our’ Family.   Raising funds was no easy task.

What funds and support that was raised was ALWAYS considerably less than was needed. Even though this description applies to an area of eastern Turkey, somewhat remote geographically from Mamouret-ul Aziz, the actual situation described in detail, is totally applicable in terms of our needy Kaza of Geghi mother and her kids.

Fig. 16a.

From The Homiletic Review (April, volume 37, 1899) pg. 384.

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Fig. 16b.

 From The Homiletic Review (April, volume 37, 1899) pg. 385.


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