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History Event Detail

UC Irvine Student Center

Philanthropists, Commissars, and the "Builders of the New Armenia"

Department: History

Date and Time: January 24, 2018 | 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

Event Location: HG 1030

Event Details


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Philanthropists, Commissars, and the "Builders of the New Armenia"

Department: Armenian Studies

Date and Time: January 24, 2018 - 6:00 PM
Event Location: Humanities Gateway 1030

Event Details

Featuring:  Dr. Nora N. Nercessian

In the early 1920s, some 25,000 Turkish Armenian orphaned children who had crossed the border into Armenia were
collected in the former military barracks of the Czar in Alexandropol (now Gyumri), under the tutelage of American Near East Relief workers and Soviet Armenian commissars. The orphanage came to be known in the West as The City of Orphans, the largest orphanage in the world at the time, and visited by American Senators and Congressmen, educators and newspaper editors, among them the editor of The New York Times, by Italian counts and princes, by British and Germans. Through the 1920s, it was covered in hundreds of articles that appeared in major national newspapers and small town dailies, from Armenia to North America to New Zealand. The talk will cover some of the aspects of a complex narrative where philanthropy, human nature, and political interests intertwined into a wedge of human drama that lasted a little over a decade.

Nora N. Nercessian graduated from the UCLA Department of the History of Art specializing in the arts of Medieval Europe. She has taught at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington, at Boston College in Boston, Massachusetts, and has served on the faculty and administration of Harvard University from 1981 to her retirement in 2005. Her latest publication, The City of Orphans: Relief Workers, Commissars and the “Builders of the New Armenia” Alexandropol /Leninakan 1919-1931 is the only full account of the world’s largest orphanage of the early 1920s in Alexandropol (now Gyumri) in Eastern Armenia.