Asbarez – Rare books from the 1800s published by Armenian presses around the world as well as precious bound volumes of Armenian newspapers from the early 1900s comprise the notable donation in July from the Hairenik Association of Watertown, MA to the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research. This collection represents a significant addition to NAASR’s Mardigian Library and will become accessible to the public after NAASR’s new Vartan Gregorian Building opens on November 1, in Belmont, MA.
George Aghjayan, a member of NAASR’s Board of Directors as well as chairman of the ARF Eastern Region Central Committee was key to making this donation possible. “I have been a member of NAASR for over 20 years and well understand NAASR’s importance and value to the Armenian community. As a library and beacon of Armenian Studies, NAASR is the natural place for this special collection of works,” said Aghjayan.
“These rare books and periodicals are an incredible addition to NAASR’s rare book library,” commented NAASR’s Director of Academic Affairs Marc Mamigonian. “We are truly fortunate to be on the receiving end of such a rich and diverse collection and now have the privilege and responsibility of taking care of these materials and making them accessible to researchers.”
The title page of “Parizahay Taretsoyts” [Franco-Armenian Almanac] bearing the stamp of the ARF Library in Lawrence, MassachusettsAni Babaian, NAASR’s Library Curator, spent many days this summer at the Hairenik with Mamigonian, examining the collection and selecting materials that would augment existing holdings. She has now started to catalogue this significant donation according to Library of Congress standards for inclusion in NAASR’s catalogue of over 29,000 rare volumes, accessible online.
The Hairenik’s donation contains 28 boxes of books dating from the 19th century to the present, mostly in Armenian (Classical, Western, and Eastern), English, Turkish, and Armeno-Turkish. The donation includes books published by Armenian presses around the world in places such as Boston, New York, Constantinople (Istanbul), Tehran, New Julfa, Tiflis (Tbilisi), Cairo, Geneva, Vienna, Athens, Yerevan, Echmiadzin, Venice, Jerusalem, Smyrna, Aleppo, Providence, Fresno, and more—nearly all of them new to NAASR’s Mardigian Library.
Of special significance are the 48 oversized, bound volumes of Armenian newspapers and periodicals from the early part of the 20th century, including “Azk” and “Paykar” published in Boston; “Pahak,” published in Providence, RI; “Razmik,” published in Philippopolis (Plovdiv), Bulgaria; “Hayastan,” published in Sofia, Bulgaria; “Azatamart,” published in Constantinpole (Istanbul); “Husaber,” published in Cairo; “Horizon,” published in Tiflis (Tbilis); and others.
The donated collection is especially strong in titles published by and about the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and other Armenian political groups, but also contains large numbers of historical and literary works, including titles by the 20th century women Diasporan writers Rima Garone, Zaruhi Galemkearean, Ewgine Shahnazar, and Eliz Gampurean.
Another notable part of the collection are a number of hard-to-find pamphlets, most dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, preserved in good condition due to being bound together in single volumes. Such publications otherwise often fail to survive.
The front page of “Razmik,” which was published in Philippopolis (Plovdiv), Bulgaria
“The Hairenik Association is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year and retains all of the materials we have published, but this particular collection will be more accessible and much better preserved at NAASR, especially as we look forward to the grand opening of NAASR’s new climate-controlled headquarters in the fall,” Aghjayan noted. “We greatly value our partnership with NAASR and are honored to be able to make a donation that will benefit researchers, scholars, and the Armenian community at large for many years to come.”
NAASR’s Edward and Helen Mardigian Library at NAASR, one of the largest publicly accessible Armenian libraries outside of Armenia, consists of nearly 30,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals, maps, and documents, primarily in Armenian and English, dating as far back as the 1600s. The collection encompasses a broad range of topics, including history, literature, art, architecture, linguistics, poetry, as well as law, anthropology, cooking, and natural sciences. The library is named in honor of the late Edward and Helen Mardigian in recognition of their decades of generous support of NAASR and its initiatives to advance Armenian Studies, and the continued support of the Mardigian family.