Miscellaneous scholarly articles

Reconstructing Armenian Village Life Manoog Dzeron and Alevor: Unique Authors of the ‘Houshamadyan’ Genre

Author: Vahé Tachjian, 28/05/14 (Last modified: 28/04/14) - Translator: Hrant Gadarigian

To remember a native village or town, to collect written accounts, and photos and maps, of Armenian life there, to raise funds among Armenians with ties to that village, to publish a book that displayed all of this material. This was the decades-long dream of many who made up the first generation of Armenian exiles.

It was in this general environment, starting in the 1920’s, that books began to appear in succession in various Armenian diasporan communities by authors attempting to revitalize the Armenian past of their native community. Here, the written word had become a medium towards reconstructing the past, of times irretrievably lost.

These authors, it seems, were convinced that they were the last survivors of the Armenian-Ottoman period. And they were certain that coming generations would be unable to reconstruct that past in a genuinely comprehensive manner. Thus, they felt the need to immortalize this legacy of the past, this town or village of another time, by putting pen to paper and writing eyewitness testimonies.

We often encounter the terms “Houshamadyan” (Book of Memories), “Hushakotogh” or “Hushartzan” (Memorial, Monument) in the titles or prefaces of these books. This is where the general term “houshamadyan” describing them comes from. In this way, the publication of a book is transformed into a ceremony marking the installation of a stone memorial—in this case, in memory of a deceased town or of a time irretrievably lost. But this memory-book is also tasked with preserving the life of the past, the memory of a lost town, with its history and traditions, heroes and glory, architecture, cuisine, song, and dance. In other words, the publication of a houshamadyan inevitably becomes what Marianne Hirsch has termed a post-memory, [1] a legacy granted to coming generations.
These books number in the hundreds, and are often similar in their internal composition, style, and content. Naturally, some are professional in nature, authored by the Armenian intellectuals of the day; others were written by individuals with few literary skills, who merely desired to leave an account of their native community. It would not be fair to classify these books based on some sort of qualitative internal ranking system; for, each of them represents a micro-history of a region, town, or village in the Ottoman Empire and is a rich source of—generally complementary—information. The scattered information contained in these books is similar to the multi-colored pieces of a mosaic—only by placing the pieces next to each other can one hope to recreate even a rudimentary image of Ottoman-Armenians and their daily life, an image estranged from today’s world.

Plain of Harput/Kharpert with its Armenian towns and villages. The Aradzani River (Eastern Euphrates, Murat River) appears as it flows today, after a number of dams altered its original course. Map prepared by George Aghjayan and reworked by Houshamadyan. 
Present-day names: 1|Kavakpınar; 2|Kavakaltı; 3|Elmapınarı; 4|Saraybaşı; 5|Kuşluyazı; 6|Alpağut; 7|Ayıbağ Koy; 8|Obuz; 9|Sarıçubuk; 10|Cöteli; 11|Harmantepe; 12|Hazar; 13|Güzelyalı; 14|Uzuntarla; 15|Korucu; 16|Yedigöze; 17|Ikizdemir; 18|Yolüstü; 19|Örençay; 20|Yurtbaşı; 21|Ulukent; 22|İçme; 23|Karşıbağ; 24|Güntaşı; 25|Kızılay; 26|Harput; 27|Dedeyolu; 28|Kavaktepe; 29|Şahinkaya; 30|Kıraç; 31|Gurbet Mezre; 32|Gümüşkavak; 33|Kuyulu; 34|Yenikapı; 35|Konakalmaz; 36|Körpe; 37|Elazig; 38|Mollakendi; 39|Çatalçeşme; 40|Munzuroğlu; 41|Yünlüce; 42|Bağlarca; 43|Akçakiraz; 44|Saray; 45|Sarıkamış; 46|Çağlar; 47|Güngören; 48|Bahçekapı; 49|Aşağı Bağ; 50|Yukarı Bağ; 51|Olgunlar; 52|Tadım; 53|Doğankuş; 54|Yazıkonak; 55|Kuşhane; 56|Sinan; 57|Virane Mezre; 58|Aksaray; 59|Yeneci; 60|Altınçevre; 61|Değirmenönü; 62|Muratcık; 63|Çakıl; 64|Kaplıkaya; 65|Erbildi; 66|Salkaya; 67|Igopkoy; 68|Çakmaközü; 69|Dallıca

This article will focus on two books printed in the 1930’s that are widely regarded as the first publications of this genre:

. Rev. Harutyun Sargisian (Alevor)’s Բալու. իր սովորոյթները, կրթական ու իմացական վիճակը եւ բարբառը [Palu. Ir sovoruytnere, krtakan ou imatsakan vichake yev barbare] [Palu: Its customs, educational and intellectual state, and dialect] (Cairo, 1932).
. Manoog B. Dzeron’s Բարջանճ գիւղ. համայնապատում (1600-1937) [Partchanj gyughe. Hamaynapatum (1600-1937)] [Parchanj village. Encyclopedia (1600-1937)] (Boston, 1938).

The two authors were largely successful in re-creating the Armenian village with its various facets of daily life.

When these two books were published, the rural and urban life of Ottoman-Armenian communities were still familiar to an entire émigré generation born and raised in the empire. The traditions, customs, cuisine, and songs described in these books lived on, to varying degrees, in the Armenian emigrant communities of the diaspora. The works of Manoog Dzeron (Manuk Tzeron) and Alevor can thus be regarded as genuine portrayals of a village lifestyle that was already familiar to many, and that for some continued to be a part of their daily lives. Alevor expressed this goal -the “obligation to collect, assemble, and immortalize the relics of a dying people” [2] -in the preface of his book.


1) Rev. Harutyun Sargisian (Alevor), Բալու. իր սովորոյթները, կրթական ու իմացական վիճակը եւ բարբառը [Palu. Ir sovoruytnere, krtakan ou imatsakan vichake yev barbare] [Palu: Its customs, educational and intellectual state, and dialect] (Cairo, 1932)
2) Manoog B. Dzeron, Բարջանճ գիւղ. համայնապատում (1600-1937) [Partchanj gyughe. Hamaynapatum (1600-1937)] [Parchanj village. Encyclopedia (1600-1937)] (Boston, 1938).

The ones “dying,” in this case, were members of his own generation, and the obligation to inscribe a collective memory, a type of dedication to “the memory of my homeland,” was his. Manoog Dzeron said the same, albeit in a more emotive style, when he likened his book to a faraghat, “the property deed of our noble village which I have written with the ink of my tears for our future generations.” [3] Yes, what they did was in the true nature of a mission: to transfer their personal (Palu or Parchanj) identity and memory, which also belonged to an entire generation, to their children, their grandchildren, and those yet to come.

In the minds of these authors, however, it was not only their generation, but their village, that was dying. After the annual floods, Dzeron writes, it was the Armenians who cleaned and repaired the springs and water pipes. But he’s learned from travelers there that the fountains and holding reservoirs (kehriz) of Parchanj have since already “dried up, the wells have crumbled and clogged, and only two flowing springs and one water well remain in the village.” [4] While we don’t know how valid such information was, we are certain that the two authors were aware that in Turkey, starting in the 1920’s, a general policy was enacted that aimed at wiping out any physical traces of an Armenian presence. Armenian churches, cemeteries, and schools were to be destroyed in the years to come, and place names were to be Turkified: Parchanj/Perçenç village was to become Akçakiraz, and Palu, the town so memorialized by Alevor, was to be completely razed to the ground; a town bearing the same name was to be built some 2.5 kilometers to the west. The Armenian district of the city of Harput/Kharberd, so familiar to both authors, as it was where they lived and worked, was also completely destroyed. And the various Armenian-populated villages in the area were to be submerged underwater when a dam was built on the Euphrates.

A view of the town of Harput

A view of the town of Harput (Source: Ernst Sommer, Was ich im Morgenlande sah und sann, Bremen, 1926)

Thus, the authors’ goal was to preserve the legacy of a dying generation. They knew that as the years rolled on, traditions would vanish, social perceptions would change, the Armenian language would, in many cases, become estranged, and interest in these things would wane. From this perspective, it’s no mere accident that many of the authors of such memoirs, especially in the United States, set out to have their works translated into English during their lifetime. They knew well that a linguistic barrier would distance coming generations from their words. Of the two books presented here, only that of Manoog Dzeron has been translated into English. It took 47 years for Suren M. Seron, his son, to carry out that promise to his father.

Today, when we attempt to resurrect the social landscape and daily life of Ottoman-Armenians through primary sources, the works of Manoog Dzeron and Alevor stand before us as shining beacons, fully illuminating our way forward. In fact, not only does a lost Armenian past spring anew from the pages of their books, but an entire rural heritage is reborn and appreciated: The construction of the village house, the cultivation of the fields, the tools of the peasant toilers, the growing of grapes, wheat, and mulberries, and the food and drink prepared from them, the taxes, schools, the agha and bey, the housework, village games and holidays… Through the richly colored pages of their books, these two authors open up the world of village life, and present the rural social milieu with deeply penetrating details. This prompts us to state that we are dealing with two distinct short tracts that brilliantly shed light on the Armenian village of the Ottoman Empire, on the life and prevalent social conditions that existed there. Through these books, it is possible to closely learn about, study, and understand the villager of Harput or Palu—a figure that has since vanished without a trace.

Manoog Dzeron: The talented architect, or How a state banishes talent from its borders

Manoog Dzeron’s grandfather, Dzeron Varpet (master, in Armenian), was a famous carpenter in the village of Parchanj. He was so skilled in his craft that he began to engage in architecture, and was the mastermind behind the construction of the village bathhouse, the Surb Prkitch Church, and various mansions (konak). This Protestant resident of Parchanj had also traveled to Istanbul to help design some major structures. [5] Master Dzeron’s son, Petros Dzeron (the father of Manoog Dzeron), would later perfect this craft and become a prominent craftsman in his own right, mastering carpentry, furniture-making, mechanics, architecture, and geometry.

Many of the churches that dotted the fields of Harput were his creations. He also served as the architect for the construction and reconstruction of the mosques located in the lower and upper neighborhoods of Parchanj. He and his brother Poghos collaborated on many of the government and religious structures in Mezire/Mamuretülaziz, including the Izzet Pasha Mosque, the government state house, the military barracks, the mekteb-i rüşdiye (government community school), the jail, and the military school, as well as the military workshop in Diyarbakır/Tigranakert, and the government building in Adana. [6]

It was in such a family of master craftsmen that Manoog Dzeron was born on December 15, 1862, in Parchanj. After graduating from the village school, he spent four years studying at the American Euphrates College in Harput, graduating in 1881. Later, he spent a short time teaching in Arapgir, Bitlis/Baghesh, and the Surb Hakob School in Harput. During his stay in Bitlis, he became acquainted with Mkrtitch Sarian, [7] Markos Natanian, [8] and Father Garegin Srvandztiants. [9]

Those were the years of the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II. Manoog Dzeron learned that a semi-military civil engineering boarding school (hendese-i mülkiye) had opened in Istanbul with a four-year curriculum, and that the tuition was “free to all Ottoman subjects without exception”. He left Harput and hurried to Istanbul to achieve his and his family’s dream, that is, to finally have a well-educated architect in the Dzeron family of talented architects. The school was under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of War, and the minister was personally known by Abik Efendi Unjian, one of the Armenian elites of Istanbul. Ounjian interceded to facilitate Manoog Dzeron’s admittance. The young man from Parchanj passed the entrance exams, but was informed by Abik Efendi, who was told by the minister, that the sultan had issued a secret order that only Muslims could be accepted. The school’s principal suggested that if Dzeron converted to Islam, the doors of the school would open. Dzeron refused, and instead began to attend the tuition-based civil engineering school run by the Ministry of Construction. He took courses for two years there while teaching in the Feriköy neighborhood Armenian school. He also worked as a secretary for the neighborhood council to cover his living and educational expenses. Returning to Harput in 1896, he accepted the post of assistant provincial engineer and for the next four years constructed military highways. In 1897, he married Yeghsa, a woman from the village of Itchme, and their daughters Satenik and Nvard were born in Parchanj. [10]

The plan for a two-story building in Parchanj. The house belonged to an Armenian family bearing the surname Khojgants. The plan was printed in Manoog Dzeron’s book. It was prepared by the author himself, and then redrawn by his son, Levon Dzeron. The version presented on this page was reworked by Houshamadyan. We have tried to maintain the authenticity of the original, while giving it a visually more appealing look to this amazing document.

In his book, Manoog Dzeron describes an interesting episode about the organized migration of Armenians, in which he participated. He writes that at the initiative of his brother Harutyun, and his father’s brother Poghos, 200 families of craftsmen organized a cooperative society with the aim of relocating en masse to the fertile plains of Pazarcık, located south-east of the town of Marash. The society acquired a large plot of land after paying a certain amount of cash to the local authorities, and the transaction was registered by the government of the vilayet of Aleppo, in which Marash was a sub-district. Everything was done by the book, and permission for the move was obtained. The villagers of Parchanj were convinced that they could start a new life in Pazarcık, that is to say, that they could become owners of their land and property, pursue their crafts, and work the land, far removed from the aghas and beys in Parchanj. But Kör Hamid, an influential Turkish bey in Parchanj, attempted to thwart the plan. Joining the conspiracy was Muroyents Ovanes, a close Armenian friend of the bey. Together they drafted a fake letter alleging that the migrants were off to join forces with the Armenian rebels in Zeytun. The letter was handed to the vali (Provincial Governor) of Mezire, who didn’t give it much importance. The conspirators then handed the letter to the vicegerent of Aleppo, who immediately informed the central authorities in Istanbul. The relocation was halted and an investigation into the matter was launched, leading to the arrest of Poghos Dzeron, his brother Petros, and the latter’s two sons, Harutyun and Manoog. They were jailed for two months, but the scandal came to light at the same time. After paying a large bribe to the Ottoman officials in charge, the Dzerons were released. Harutyun and Poghos continued to pursue the relocation plan, but this time the official barriers proved insurmountable. Given these conditions, the Pazarcık plan was scrapped. None of the Armenian villagers were compensated for the huge expenses they had incurred. [11]

Manoog Dzeron went back to his job as an assistant engineer. The vali of Mezire, taking into account the young man’s four years of satisfactory service as an architect, sent a letter to Istanbul, proposing that he be given a higher level post. But in 1889, an order was received from Istanbul to expel all Armenians from the architectural and engineering state institutions. Manoog Dzeron consequently decided to leave the Ottoman Empire, and arrived in the United States in 1890, settling in Worcester, Mass. He then moved to Chicago and later Joliet, Ill. In 1893, he was joined by his wife and daughter Nvard. Six sons and one daughter were born to the family in America. Manoog Dzeron died in 1938. [12]

This short biography shows that we are dealing with an Armenian who was very familiar with the contradictions and extremes of the Ottoman regime, someone who was also a prominent architect who knew his village and its life well.

Alevor: A village priest, or A man very familiar with the rural life of the Palu and Harput regions

Biographical data on Father Harutyun Sargisian is quite scant. He was born in 1864 in the provincial village of Trkhe (present-day Keklikdere) in Palu. He attended the local school and in 1875 traveled to Istanbul with his father, where he enrolled in the Samatya Sahakian School. In 1877, he returned to his village and then enrolled in the Harput Surb Hakob School administered by Tlkatintsi. He was ordained a priest in Urfa in 1894, and the following year was assigned to the village of Sarıkamış, in the Harput Diocese. From 1896-1901, he resided in the town of Harput, serving as a priest in the Surb Hakob neighborhood. He taught religion in the parish school in the same neighborhood, while simultaneously attending Armenian-language and science courses. From 1901-1902, he served as a priest in the Harput village of Kesirik (present-day Kızılay), and from 1903-1907 in Erganimaden/Arghana Maden (present-day Maden). Here, under his initiative, the Armenian school where he also taught was renovated. In 1908, he has moved to Adana and later, to Mersin. In 1909, he traveled to Egypt, intending to depart to the United States. But, he stayed in Cairo, teaching theology and church history at the local Galustian School. He served as the Locum Tenens from 1911-1914, and again from 1916-1934. For a time, he was the clergyman who tended to the Armenians in Egyptian jails. He left a great many articles on religious themes, written under a variety of pen names; for example, Paylak (in the “Luys” newspaper, Istanbul), Chambord (“Byuzandion” newspaper, Istanbul), Norek vshtakir (“Lusaber” newspaper, Cairo), Aratzani (“Sion” monthly, Jerusalem, as well as “Haratch” newspaper, Paris) and of course Alevor (“Lusardzak” weekly, Cairo). He died in Cairo on July 24, 1947. [13]

Like Dzeron, Alevor also left his native village quite early on. Yet, his memories of his birthplace did not wane; on the contrary, as the clergyman from Trkhe wrote, “after the tragic collapse of my centuries-old native village, its apparition began to live even stronger in my imagination…” [14] Prior to his short stay in Cilicia and his later permanent resettlement in Egypt, Alevor spent half his life in a village setting. Trkhe, Sarıkamış, Kesirik, Arghana Maden—these were all villages where Alevor worked as a parish priest and teacher, but also, we believe, as an average villager doing various household and agricultural chores.

Agriculture, crafts, holidays, traditions, families: Restoring daily life

A sincere reproduction of village life comprises the core of the books written by Manoog Dzeron and Alevor. The two authors tried their best to achieve this. Before appearing in book form, Alevor’s work was published in serial form in the Cairo weekly newspaper Lusardzak from 1927-1928. The series was interrupted when the newspaper closed. In 1930, Alevor had the opportunity to spend a week in Beirut and Damascus, where he culled information from former Palu residents and other compatriots now living there, which he published in a separate work in 1932. [15] Alevor’s book was an exception, in that many books in the houshamadyan genre were a result of collaborative work. It was the compatriotic union of former village residents living in the United Sates that raised the funds and placed the order for Manoog Dzeron’s Parchanj book. While Dzeron’s personal stamp is evident on every page of the book, he nevertheless collected certain information from his compatriots. Manoog Dzeron wrote the book from 1931-1937.

At first glance, one finds many similarities in the descriptions given by the two authors. This is to be expected, given that Harput and Palu are located in the same geographical zone, and there aren’t major differences in traditions, dialect, traditional farming methods, dress, house building, home chores, and other aspects of daily life. Thus, a natural closeness is created between these two books and, regarding various themes, they complement one another.

The two authors describe village life in a completely natural way, for both are children of the village. In the case of Alevor, it is clear that he also tilled the land and personally used many of the farming and household tools he describes. Manoog Dzeron, on the other hand, was a master mechanic and architect, and it is clear that he enjoyed providing descriptions and instructions on the building of village homes and watermills, and the use of engineering equipment. Examples can better show that this was the case.

A workshop in Parchanj village belonging to Kelen Arut, where silk is recovered from cocoons:
(1) copper tray; (2) cocoon; (3) hearth; (4) bench; (5) cupboard; (6)
get-gal; (7) reel; (8) hook; (9) whip; (10) top; (11) main reel; (12) string.
Drawn by Manug B. Dzeron, redrawn by Levon M. Dzeron in 1933 (Source: Manoog B. Dzeron, Parchanj village. Encyclopedia (1600-1937) [in Armenian], Boston, 1938)

One of Alevor’s masterpieces is his description of the cotton-making process, from harvesting the crop to producing yarn. He was very familiar with this cultivation and craft, and his depiction is based on personal experience. The chapter on farming starts with the process of preparing cotton seed for sowing, and then portrays the sowing itself, followed by the kakhank, the work to clear the fields of harmful and unnecessary grasses. The next step is the bampak krtel, where the upper portion of the cotton stalk is slightly cut to allow the plant to grow and produce branches. Then, the cotton enkuyz (unopened cotton bud) blossoms, quickly turning into a khchech (opened bolls). The field work ends with the harvest (kagh) of the buds. The crop is brought home, where it undergoes a number of stages in the handicraft process. For the Armenians of the Palu district and the Harput valley, this was surely a skill passed down through the centuries. The first stage, called tchalkhavu, allowed for the separation of the cotton from the entwined vines, leaves, soil, and dust. The cleaned opened bolls were then separated, one by one, from their dry and sharp husks. Another machine called the chrchr was then used to separate the cotton from the husk. The next step was to card/comb (aghnel) the cotton, softening and cleaning the fibers. This was followed by using a spinning wheel (jayr) and an implement called a nazuk to turn the fibers into a spun yard twisted onto a masura. These implements were then placed on a tastachagh, the henk (warp; in weaving cloth, the warp is the set of lengthwise yarns that are held in tension on a frame or loom) was prepared, and it was then possible to begin the hor (weft; thread or yarn that is drawn through the warp yarns) work, the actual weaving of the cloth. Alevor devoted 24 pages to describing the entire process in painstaking detail, resurrecting this ancient weaving craft, the Palu variation of which no longer exists today. [16] For the average, non-expert reader, all of this might seem somewhat burdensome or tedious. Even experts may not understand certain descriptive segments. We have the impression that Alevor wrote quickly, not reviewing or editing his text. Yet, there is a rich vocabulary regarding weaving and agriculture, in general, to be found in these pages. Many of the words are no longer used today; the meaning of some cannot even be found in the most specialized of dictionaries. Nonetheless, this section by Alevor (indeed, the entire book) is a splendid source for those working to restore the heritage of the Ottoman-Armenian—in this case, the villager and his craft of making cloth from cotton or wool.

Agricultural and household items used by Armenians living in the plains of Harput/Kharberd and Palu

Even richer in scope is the 33-page chapter in Alevor’s book dealing with wheat cultivation. Detailed scenes on wheat sowing, reaping, and preparing the threshing, follow in consecutive order. The sheaves were harrowed, followed by the winnowing and traying of the grain. Once the grains were separated from the bran and bits of straw and pebbles, they were boiled in water and left in the sun to dry (meynvil), then beaten with a flail, sieved, and milled. After all of this, the main food staple of Palu and Harput—bulgur—was ready for the table. [17]

Alevor continues to record his knowledge on traditional farming methods. He talks about mulberry (tut) cultivation, the making of syrup (rup), paste (pastegh), and vodka (oghi). [18] He devotes many pages to grape cultivation, gardening, the grape harvest (egekit), and turning grapes into raisins, syrup, and wine. [19]

Of special significance is Alevor’s section on fishing, [20] which deals with the varieties of fish that were to be found in the Eastern Euphrates (Aratzani/Murad Nehri), and how local Armenians fished for them. Most of the names of the fish were those used by Armenians of the time. In this way, Alevor has restored the local vocabulary of a group of people that had disappeared. He also differentiates between the fishing nets used by urban and rural fishers and the methods they used in general. This section is one of the rare places in the book where Alevor puts aside his customary modesty and, speaking in the first person, relates that he is from Trkhe and once lived on the shores of the Aratsani. “I know well how and in what manner they fished there,” he writes, “especially since I had the opportunity to join the fishermen and participate in their work.” [21]

Alevor and Manoog Dzeron did more than merely restore scenes of a lost and forgotten rural way of life, however. While it is true that their works aren’t literary in nature, they conveyed an enthusiasm (particularly in the case of Manoog Dzeron) to recreate the village milieu, to relive certain moments in time.

Both writers wrote passionately about Armenian celebrations in the villages, and the customs and traditions associated with them. They also wrote in detail about religious rituals, of baptisms, weddings, and burials. And they added dialogue, reproducing conversations that were likely to have occurred among villagers on these occasions. Manoog Dzeron employed this method the most. In one section, he describes the first stage in the preparation of a marriage, the khoskkap (binding word). The two mothers have already given their approval and the matter has now passed into the hands of the menfolk. The godfathers of the boy and girl, accompanied by a friend, pay a visit to the girl’s home. Here, Manoog Dzeron revives a conversation that would have taken place in the home, and ends the colorful dialogue when the specific amount to be paid by the boy’s family to the girl’s parents is agreed upon. The khoskkap—the first fundamental stage preceding a marriage—is thus formalized. [22]

In these conversations, Manoog Dzeron uses both the real names of Parchanj villagers—Tepo Karo, Kilarji Karamuyi kin Yeghso, Kelen Aruti kin Vardo, Jaghepan Hobbala Tono—and names similar to other, actual village residents, who recite their lines like stage actors in his book. And they all speak in the local dialect. By this time, readers of the book already have a cursory familiarity with these names and families, since the author has devoted the first 67 pages of his book [23] to the Armenian villagers of Parchanj, their family lineage, and short biographical notes.

To remember and write, to write and draw: When restoring the past becomes the meaning of life

Manoog Dzeron’s book opens with a topographic map of Parchanj and area villages. Here, he depends on his memory and experience as the architect who once constructed the thoroughfares in those same villages. The map shows the area’s lakes, rivers, mountains, and roads. Two pages on, we find one of the most important elements that make this book unique: the street map of Parchanj village, which he has also drawn. He presents the houses of Armenian and Turkish families (each one bearing the owner’s name), the gardens, fields, churches, schools, mosques, and cemeteries.

The map and street plan aren’t the only sketches in Dzeron’s book. The work stands out with its numerous drawings, and it is evident that he has understood the importance of visual representations as a method of memory restoration. In this, Dzeron was assisted by his daughter Nvard Goshgarian (Koshkarian) and son Levon Dzeron, who reworked some of their father’s sketches. Alevor also used sketches, mostly to depict domestic, engineering, and crafts tools, plants, and household items. We believe that his son, Paruyr Sargisian, helped with the sketches; [24] Yet, they lack the precision and clarity of Manoog Dzeron’s images (for, the author of the Parchanj book was an architect by profession, and his daughter, a painter).

In any case, both authors, with their use of sketches as an art form to restore the routine of bygone days, hold a unique place among the hundreds of other authors of houshamadyans who, both prior and after our two authors, either didn’t appreciate the importance of the “sketch/remember” concept, or didn’t have the means to put it into practice.

Instead, there are photographs. In almost all such memoir journals, photographs were used to varying degrees to show panoramas of towns and villages, the local church, school, a family or an individual. However, an author tasked with writing the history of his town doesn’t always enjoy the luxury of having a rich photo collection at his/her fingertips. In this respect, the books written about Parchanj and Palu are expressive. Manoog Dzeron was able to collect family and individual photos from compatriots. Parchanj, in fact, was one of the villages where the migration of menfolk to the United States had already reached its peak by the end of the 19th century. The migrants were mostly newly married men who had left their wives and newborn behind to work in the factories of America, and send their wages back to their families. The men constantly dreamt of returning to their native village in a few years. Letters and photos maintained a connection between families, and the art of photography in the Harput valley underwent a period of development in subsequent years. Families would go to the large towns of their area, like Harput or Mezire, to have their photos taken, and would then send the prints to their relatives in America. Oftentimes, photographers would make their rounds of the villages to ply their trade. Many Parchanj residents left, never to return, thus escaping the massacres of 1915. Their family photos often served as their only remaining relic of their native village. In his mission to collect such photos, Manoog Dzeron was assisted by the Parchanj Compatriotic Union, which played a coordinating role between the author and former Parchanj residents scattered across the United States. In contrast, Alevor’s journal lacks a rich photographic archive, likely because he didn’t enjoy the assistance of a compatriotic society or an organization that could at least gather photos from former Palu residents living in various immigrant communities, especially in the United States, or cover the costs of publishing a work rich with photos.

Lacking in both books, however, are photographs of village life itself. Many of the other Armenian communities in the Ottoman Empire didn’t have panoramic village photos. A large number of villages have not only been forever emptied of their Armenian inhabitants, but of their Armenian community structures as well, which disappeared over the years to come. The Armenian past there is faceless and non-photographed; there are no visual means to connect local Armenian life to any representative structures or community landmarks. The photo is absent and, as Hirsch writes, it cannot serve as a bridge to the past, nor facilitate identification and affiliation. [25]

But running counter to this tendency to wipe out all Armenian traces was a memory, held by the residents of those very same Ottoman places, by Armenians, Turks, Kurds, and others. The Turks and Kurds maintained a prolonged, forced silence regarding their past coexistence with Armenians, a theme which isn’t generally publicly alluded to by those of that generation. If the subject is publicly broached at all, Armenians are portrayed in a negative light. Thus, those Armenians who left their native home, never to return, are both the bearers of that memory and the ones who desired to publicize and pass on that memory. The exiles of this first generation began to produce a multitude of books in the memoir genre, striving to serve as witnesses to their native Armenian heritage, and working to prevent further destruction of a memory.

To write, to confirm, was their classic form of expression. But they were the native offspring of the village or town, and the memory linking them to this native world also had a visual and auditory nature, at the same time. The question was how, and by what medium, to transfer such legacies, especially at a time when they had none of today’s technological, multi-media possibilities.

Here, are two rare authors who, in their books, elevated sketching to a method for remembering and giving witness. This was a necessity, for when there are no photographs one must recreate the village, its various structures and rural implements, through memory. Let us take the floor plan drawn by Manoog Dzeron of the family house bearing the name of Khochkants, as an example. [26] This two-story structure is displayed with architectural skill. It shows the various units of the village house—the dordan (courtyard), kraktun (cooking room), tonir (circular oven), sagu (large, square, wooden gathering area built above the stables), akhor (barn), marag (hayloft)—as well as the various household facilities—the ding (wheat crusher), dzitahank (oil press), triki pos (dung pit), and hor (well). The floor plan is quite tiny; it takes a magnifying glass to examine it. But, at its core, it is a monumental document. Various authors, including Manoog Dzeron and Alevor, wrote about the construction and architectural design of Armenian village houses in this region. And with this floor plan, we have before us a fantastic drawing that is more expressive and can more effectively convey the true picture of daily village life. With the same skill, Manoog Dzeron also drew the floor plans for the only bathhouse in Parchanj and the mill owned by Hobbala Tono. [27]

Drawing of the Parchanj village’s tchaktchaku (tchagharj) mill:
(1) mill; (2) millstone; (3) driver (
karmuchak); (4) pail (takna); (5) spout; (6) tchakhtchakh; (7) flour store (alertun); (8) waterwheel; (9) support post; (10) lever; (11) water channel; (12) nozzle; (13) sluice gate; (14) millrace; (15) oven; (16) hearth; (17) aghvon; (18) beehive; (19) wooden post.
The miller is Hoppala Dono. Drawn by Manoog Dzeron and re-drawn by his son Levon M Dzeron in 1933, in Juliet, Illinois, USA (Source: Manoog B. Dzeron,
Parchanj village. Encyclopedia (1600-1937), Boston, 1938)

There are 104 drawings in Manoog Dzeron’s book, which taken together reproduce the agricultural life of Parchanj. This rural daily lifestyle, with many of its traditional aspects, surely continued even after the disappearance of the Armenians. But this lifestyle, in its sweeping scope, has today likely become a legacy of the past. It may have been the consciousness of eternal exile and a desire to preserve the local Armenian legacy that drove Manoog Dzeron to sketch these implements of rural life in complete detail. Certainly, he wouldn’t have done this had he continued to live a normal life in Parchanj or had the Catastrophe, which uprooted every facet of an Armenian existence from this village, not occurred. Thus, the Turks of Parchanj, who were Manoog Dzeron’s contemporaries and continued to live there, most likely used the same tools to plough the land, harvest grapes, or mill wheat, and didn’t use such remember-writing and remember-sketching methods.

The pain of loss, longing, and demand for justice were all emotions that Manoog Dzeron experienced when preparing his book. These were the main motivators behind his memory writing and memory-sketching project. Absent such emotions, he most likely would not have initiated such a work, complete with text and drawings, to reconstruct a past life, especially not with such diligence and vigor. There are 116 drawings in the Parchanj book. The author has sketcheds a wheel cart with all its component parts, all the tools used for weaving, the flaxseed oil press, the factory making silk from cocoons, the process of combing cotton, and many others.

We find 166 drawings in Alevor’s book. Though less than perfect, they nonetheless are very helpful from the perspective of resurrecting a material culture. In this series, for example, is the khorbologh (also, khulinchak or khulunchik), which was hung from the very center of the house ceiling throughout Metz Pahk (Great Lent). It is was constructed of a firm onion with seven rooster feathers pressed into it, each one representing the seven weeks of Great Lent. This sketch of by Alevor of the Palu khorbologh is unique in the fact that we also see a small spear attached,; a symbol used to frighten any children thinking about violating Lent.

Their books of the two authors are replete with dialect words, many of which have fallen out of use or their meaning forgotten with the passage of time. Alevor’s dictionary includes some 3,500 words; and that of Manoog Dzeron’s, 1,700.

To remember the past, but to also present the social milieu and its contradictions

The books of Manoog Dzeron and Alevor were written with the aim of presenting the village life of Parchanj and Palu, respectively. Alevor does not directly focus on his native village of Trkhe; in fact, it is hardly even mentioned in his book. For him, the Armenian-populated village of Palu and Armenian village life comprise one overall subject. For this reason, his descriptions cover all of the regional villages. As for Manoog Dzeron’s book, its general subject is restricted to Parchanj, or more correctly, the Armenians of Parchanj. The exception is the subchapter entitled, “The Turks of Parchanj,” that includes various sections: “Turkish families,” “Memorable village Turks,” “The religious and educational state of Turks,” “The Turkish family: Customs,” “Turkish traditions: Betrothal, wedding, divorce, hac/hadj (pilgrimage),” “Community administrative structure.” [28] Despite Dzeron’s inclination to paint Turks in a negative light, the information is nevertheless of merit, especially when we use it to understand how the Armenian, in this case Manoog Dzeron, portrays the Other.

The Other—the Turk and the Kurd—is never a separate subject of discussion in the remaining pages of the Parchanj book, nor in the work by Alevor. The aim of both authors is purely the re-establishment of Armenian memory and heritage. Other authors writing books in the memory genre in the post-genocide period also pursued this objective. They bear the stamp of the times, and follow the dictates of the spirit of the period. Here, the Other is overlooked and has no separate place in local memory. And if it is recalled, it is usually assigned a negative character, one of the causes of the tragedy Armenians experienced.

But this, too, is just one face of reality. Thus, when we delve deeper into a study of the books by Manoog Dzeron and Alevor, it isn’t difficult to make out that the Other is implicitly present and is an integral part of the Armenian social fabric. The Other not only symbolizes violence and the final Catastrophe; the centuries-old coexistence between it and the Armenian also includes a number of grey zones. These appear unavoidably in simple descriptions, when the two authors write about daily life, farming, crafts, and commerce. Such short and specific bits of information are numerous and are the means to not only re-establish the daily life of Palu and Parchanj Armenians, but also to more closely study the existing socio-economic structure and the roles played by various groups operating there.

The khorbologh (or khulinchak) described by Alevor

The khorbologh (or khulinchak) described by Alevor would hang from the ceilings of village homes throughout Metz Pahk (Great Lent). Houshamadyan prepared the illustration based on Alevor's sketches.

Thus, for example, in order to understand the living conditions of the villager in the Harput-Palu region, it is important to appreciate the type of local rule that reigned there. Here, we are assisted by Manoog Dzeron and Alevor, the information of one supplementing the other. The Ottoman state system was extremely weak in this region and the absence of a central authority was the major source of general insecurity. What ruled instead was the power of local Turkish and Kurdish beys and aghas. They owned most of the fields, gardens, and pastures. A majority of the Armenian and Kurdish villagers were connected to them through what was called a maraba status, in that the land they farmed belonged to the aghas and beys. As we shall see, the villagers received only a tiny fraction of the harvest. The maraba was quite burdensome. During the Tanzimat period, many Armenians were able to free themselves from the status, but in successive years the beys and aghas gradually regained control of their former lands. In 1908, after the declaration of the Ottoman Constitution, Armenians once again attempted to wrest free from the maraba status, and many did. According to Manoog Dzeron, some three-quarters of the Armenians of Parchanj became the owners of their land. But in conditions of poverty, the maraba status could become a source of relative security. A bey or agha would provide their marabas with seed only. Village farmers had to perform the rest of the work, including various services to their masters. But the same bey or agha would also defend their marabas from violence and pillage. Thus, as Manoog Dzeron writes, Armenian villagers would compete amongst themselves to become the maraba of this or that bey. It was only the improvement in Armenians’ political conditions, which took place temporarily after 1908, that afforded a way out of maraba status. Otherwise, local solutions were rare. For this reason, there was a mass migration of menfolk from the Palu and Harput regions to Adana or Istanbul, and later towards the United States. [29]

Within this general system, the common Kurdish villager occupies an interesting place. According to Alevor’s book, the Kurdish peasant belonged to a group of local beys or aghas who exploited the Kurds even more than they did Armenians. The Kurdish peasant was the poorest of the poor in the Palu district. So extreme was their situation that they were to be found on the outskirts of Armenian villages, either to beg or to burglarize. In fact, the Kurds were often guilty of stealing grapevines from Armenian gardens. These same, poor Kurds would return to the villages after the cotton or grain harvest to beg for some cotton or wheat from the Armenian peasants. [30] Theft was a constant scourge in the daily life of the Armenian villager. There is ample, and interesting, information about this theme and the identity of the thieves in the works of both authors. Alevor reveals that Kurds also worked as gardeners (baghbanji) of the gardens belonging to Armenians in the Palu villages. This was perhaps a wise move on the part of the Armenians, as it likely prevented the theft of vine stock. [31] An architectural detail of the rural houses of Palu and Harput also has much to say about this problem. In Armenian homes, the cowshed, stable, and hayloft were all to be together within the walls of the house. Local Kurds, on the other hand, built their cowsheds and stables several minutes walking distance from their house. This difference, Alevor notes, stems from the Armenians’ fear that their livestock would be stolen, something that rarely happened to the Kurds. [32] Equally expressive are the written magical enchantments (apson, in the local dialect) that were made in Parchanj to ward off the evil eye, illness, and attacks from dangerous animals and malevolent spirits. These spells were written in Armenian. There were also some anti-theft spells that, while recorded in Armenian, also included excerpts in Turkish. The weavers of these magic spells were aware that the thieves were generally not Armenian. [33]

Harvest time in the plain of Harput/Kharberd. Photograph by Askanaz Sursurian (Source: Marderos Deranian archives, NAASR, Belmont, MA)

The ‘One-Tenth’ tax system: The weakening of the state system and the strengthening of ‘agha’/‘bey’ local rule

When describing the cultivation of wheat, cotton, and grape vines, Alevor speaks at length about the “one-tenth” [34] system (tithe) and its collection methods. These passages are very useful in gaining a better understanding of the various nuances in the tripartite Armenian villager–agha/bey–state relationship.

The method in which this government tax was collected reveals the power of the beys and aghas. The state wasn’t directly involved in collecting the “one-tenth” tax. Alevor points to the expense in sending government officials to far-flung rural regions as the reason. Instead, the government found it more convenient to put the villages’ tithes up for auction and sell them to local wealthy individuals. The Ottoman coffers thus received the cash value of the tithe tax in advance, with the buyer having to collect the actual tax in kind, store it, transport it, and finally sell it himself. The auction would take place in the Palu government office courtyard when the crops were just ripening. The auction date was officially announced in advance. The wealthy individuals who wanted to bid for the tithe would gather in the courtyard, along with members of the kaymakam’s governing council (irade meclisi), which included the Armenian prelate of Palu and two other Armenian members. The town crier (munetik) would then announce the name of the first village, pointing out that its tithe was up for sale, and call for bids. The bids would rise until only one or two bidders were left. The remaining bidder(s) would have to provide guarantees to the official body present. Only after doing so would they sign the auction’s bill of sale. The tithe thus belonged to the buyer, and the government remained removed from subsequent related activities. [35] Government bodies would only intervene when the collector was in dispute with the villagers; in these cases, police intervention would usually be in favor of the tithe buyer. [36]

In Palu, the tithe buyers were always the same three or four people—the local influential beys. Since they were always the ones participating in the auction, unofficially, the collection of the tax became their “right.” No one else dared to take part in the bidding, certain that the same beys would regard it as a trampling of their privileges, and that repercussions would be inevitable. In such circumstances, when there was an absence of fierce competition, the auction bids wouldn’t rise, and the entire operation would be considered a loss for the Ottoman treasury. Clearly, the main beneficiaries of such a situation were the beys. Alevor gives an example of a village where the tithe was usually sold for 6,000 ghurush/kuruş every year. When the beys weren’t able to attend an auction, the tithe would be raised to 30,000 ghurush. [37]

Alevor also goes into great detail about how the tithe was collected. The tithe holder wouldn’t go to the villages himself, but would send his representative, a person called a shayna or shahna (likely the Turkish word şahne), to collect them. The person who carried out these functions was also known as a mültezim (contractor) or aşarci. In his book, Alevor records the entire ceremonial procedure—that is, how the shayna was received with great hospitality in the villages, how he would measure the wheat and other cereals taken to the threshing floor, how he would travel to the gardens and cotton fields to measure the amount of the overall harvest, how he would be bribed, and how disagreements would be settled.

Half of harvest measured by the shayna had to be handed over by the maraba villagers to the landowner—the Kurdish bey or agha. The tithe was taken from the remaining half. Alevor notes how one shouldn’t accept the amount of “one tenth” (the tithe) at face value. It was more, and usually represented one-eighth, or 11.76 percent. According to the same author, there were also circumstances where the “one tenth” has been represented as one-seventh, or 14.28 percent of the remaining harvest. Next in line were the creditors, who were usually craftsmen—blacksmiths, cobblers, and painters—from the same village who had done some type of work for the farming villager during the year. They would be waiting for this special day in the life of the village to receive payment in kind—a portion of the remaining grain. What finally passed into the hands of the villager is what was left after all of this. [38]

Armenian village schools: The fruit of communal governance and cooperation

If the weakness of the state system and absence of governmental bodies could, on the one hand, open the door to a number of security issues, it could also, on the other hand, be the reason why Armenian villagers of Palu and Harput sought to independently organize communal life. The school system and its development is a case in point. Here, the arrival of Western missionaries spurred the establishment of modern schools in the Harput valley. The American missionaries operating in the Harput region opened the first modern educational centers. Education and the proselytization of Protestant or Catholic beliefs went hand in hand at these institutions. At the same time, however, the educational work carried out by the missionaries irrefutably imparted a new vibrancy in the provinces and created an atmosphere of competition that must, nevertheless, be regarded as positive and productive.

The establishment of missionary schools, coupled with the adaptation of new teaching methods and the quick development of education for the girls in those institutions, surely created a powerful psychological and lifestyle shock to the rural milieu. Of course, the majority of Harput area Armenians, belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church, would have preferred to have their own institutions. In terms of financial resources, the competition was on an unequal footing. Nevertheless, it is clear that community leaders couldn’t take a passive approach to this issue.

The opening of missionary schools, especially when Muslim boys and girls started attending them, also caused a degree of panic among the Ottoman authorities. Since it was impossible to halt the activities of the missionaries through legal channels, the only option remaining was to establish a government directory of educational institutions. [39]

Threshing of harvested wheat in Harput/Kharberd plain (Source: Marderos Deranian archives, NAASR, Belmont, MA)

The development of a dynamic and powerful missionary educational network truly became a call to arms and action directed at the Ottoman state and community (millet) bodies. Starting from the second half of the 19th century, state and community institutions began working to increase the number of government and community schools. But the example of the Harput region clearly shows the extent to which community structures, as compared to those of the government, were more dedicated to and proficient in the educational tasks they initiated. The quick growth and development of educational institutions belonging to the Armenian Apostolic community in the Harput valley, in the span of a few decades, was primarily the result of a spirit of organization, of inner communal cooperation and support.

Manoog Dzeron was very familiar with the Turkish school established in Parchanj, especially since it was located quite close to his home. He also attended it for three days. Only boys could enroll in this institution, and there was no corresponding girls’ school. Dzeron’s description of the conditions at the school was quite negative. We do not know whether the school improved after Manoog Dzeron left Parchanj, but we do not believe it could have equaled the Armenian schools (Protestant and Apostolic) that had been placed on a solid footing beginning in the mid-19th century. In 1870, the Parchanj Apostolic community laid the foundation for the Krtasirats Society, which was tasked with supporting the boys’ school that had opened in 1845. In 1888, through the efforts of Krtasirats, the school moved to a new building and became co-ed. [40] A Protestant school, with a standard curriculum, opened its doors in the same village in 1873. All of the students were Armenian. In the mid-1890’s, the Protestant school moved to a new building and also began accepting girl students. [41] Parchanj residents who had immigrated to the United States contributed significantly to cover the financial costs of the Apostolic community school. In 1891, they established the Perchenj Gyughi Lusavortchakan Dbrotsasirats Enkerutyun (Perchenj Village Apostolic School Supporters Society) in the Massachusetts town of Fels. All of its members worked in the Boston Rubber Factory. Branches were quickly set up in towns throughout the United States—in Worcester, Whitinsville, Cambridge, Charlestown, Malden, Salem-Peabody, Stoneham, and Lawrence-Lowell, Mass.; in Hartford, New Britain, Madison, Naugatucket, Conn.; and in the state of California. By 1902, these branches, combined, had a membership of about 100. [42] During the 1912-1913 school year, the Parchanj boys’ school had six classes with 82 students, and the girls’ school had four classes with 32 students.[43]

This, then, is an example of communal cooperation, of villagers banding together totally independent of the state system. The educational life of Parchanj Armenians greatly benefited from such collaborative effort.


Let us now take a look at the overall state of the Armenian diaspora when the books by Manoog Dzeron and Alevor were written. During the 1920’s and 1930’s, a politicized atmosphere reigned throughout the diaspora. Ideological conflicts had led to divisions within the larger Armenian communities of the United States, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Greece, Argentina, and France. The main reason for the intra-communal splits was the issue of Soviet Armenia, as well as the classic inter-party struggles and their effects on diasporan community structures. These were also years when Armenian compatriotic unions still played an influential role in Armenian political and cultural life. These societies also played their part in inter-community struggles. When we present the issue schematically, we see the ARF and the organizations supporting it on one side of the dividing line, and the Hentchak and Ramkavar parties, along with the AGBU, on the other. The first group assumed an uncompromising stance against the Communist regime in Armenia and fought for the restoration of the First Republic. The second group attempted to overlook its ideological differences with the Communists and viewed cooperation with the Soviet authorities as of primary importance, in the name of the development and strengthening of Armenia. The elements comprising the Armenian diaspora were mostly of an exile background. The partisan-ideological environment of intolerance and incompatibility sometimes led to violence and even death.

In such tense conditions, divisions surfaced within various compatriotic unions, to the extent that two compatriotic unions, representing the same historic town or village, operated in opposition to one another in the same diasporan community. It was during this period when the first houshamadyan books appeared. It was not a rare occurrence for the partisan-ideological struggle to lead to more than one work being written regarding a former Armenian village, town, or region of the Ottoman Empire. Given the political atmosphere of the day, these books were regarded as opposing one another. One can rightly ask how it is possible to observe internal Armenian contradictions in books written about the memories of one Ottoman town or village. Interestingly, such divisions generally surfaced in a section that appeared in almost all of the memory works—that dealing with “political life,” “the political parties,” or “revolutionary/fedayi activities.” As dictated by conditions dominant in the diaspora, the authors of other such memoirs perhaps overvalued the importance of these chapters and devoted copious pages to them. Of course, the influence of post-genocide Armenian historiography had a role in this, as attempt were made to henceforth portray the centuries-old history of Ottoman-Armenians solely through images of violence, massacre, and resistance to despotism. The organizers of this resistance were the same political parties that continued to operate in the diaspora. Thus, if the author of a certain memoir didn’t portray a certain party “properly” in the aforementioned chapters, the aggravated party would launch the publication of an “accurate” accounting, which depicted it in a more fitting manner. It is certainly due to these contradictions that various locales (Harput town, Husenig, Bardizag (Partizak), Van, Musa Ler, Tomarza, Havav, Zeytun, Taron region, and others) have two or more memory books.

Manoog Dzeron and Alevor seem to have steered clear of such dominant political factors. “Politicized” chapters are simply absent in their books, which is a rare occurrence in the memory genre. It’s not as if the two authors were removed from political life. Until his death, Manoog Dzeron was an active member of the Ramkavar-Azatakan Party in the United States. [44] As we have seen, in his “Last Words” he writes that he regards his work as a faraghat (property deed) directed to future generations. In the sentence that follows, the reader perceives the pressure of a political stance: “In order that They [the next generations]—when they grow up, multiply, and get stronger in the New Parchanj blossoming on the sunlit slope of Ararat—one day...with this faraghat, in their hands as a compass of inspiration, they will return to the home of our forefathers, that they will find, reacquire, and rebuild Mother Parchanj [emphasis his].” [45] This political stance is expressed not only in the form of demands from Turkey, but also in a sympathetic position regarding Soviet Armenia. Elsewhere, Dzeron writes that he has three dreams (muraz): The first is the publication of his book; the second, the establishment of New Parchanj in a resurrected Soviet Armenia; and the third, to visit Armenia and New Parchanj with his wife. [46]

For many years, Alevor served in the important capacity of locums tenens of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Egypt, where an Armenian community was experiencing the upheavals of political conflicts. He died during such a period of upheaval caused by the immigration movement to Soviet Armenia. Thousands of Armenians were preparing to relocate to Armenia, and the immigration assumed political overtones. Egyptian-Armenian newspapers were extensively and continually covering the issue. Against this backdrop, Alevor was quietly buried in Cairo. His funeral wasn’t even covered by the Armenian press.

Despite these ideological and political interests, the works of the two authors remained loyal to their principle of portraying village life and free, for the most part, of the influence of post-Catastrophe reconstructed historiography of the period. It is this aspect that makes the books by Manoog Dzeron and Alevor, works that do not differ substantially from the memory books left by others of their generation in the magnificent genre of legacy writing, even more unique. All of them are creations from the same sense of urgency—to remember, recollect, and eternalize the Armenian life of the village or town. It was a life that members of that generation were forcibly torn from. They carried that longing for the lost homeland with them as they established their new lives on foreign shores.


  • [1] Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture After the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012); Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory (Harvard University Press, 1997).
  • [2] Rev. Harutyun Sargisian (Alevor), Բալու. իր սովորոյթները, կրթական ու իմացական վիճակը եւ բարբառը [Palu. Ir sovoruytnere, krtakan ou imatsakan vichake yev barbare] [Palu. Its customs, educational and intellectual state, and dialect] (Cairo: Sahag-Mesrob, 1932) p. 18.
  • [3] Manoog B. Dzeron, Բարջանճ գիւղ. համայնապատում (1600-1937) [Parchanj gyughe. Hamaynapatum (1600-1937)] [Parchanj village. Encyclopedia (1600-1937)] (Boston, 1938) p. 251.
  • [4] Ibid., p. 21.
  • [5] Ibid., pp. 54-55.
  • [6] Ibid., p. 55.
  • [7] Born 1853 in Trabzon/Trebizond. School principal in Mush, community leader, and political activist. Died in Izmir in 1901.
  • [8] Born 1862 in the Aygestan neighborhood of Van. School teacher, community leader, and political activist. Died in Paris in 1927.
  • [9] Ibid., p. 58. Archbishop Garegin Srvadztiants. Born 1840 in Van (Aygestan). Author of the books Grots-brots (1874), Hnots-norots (1874), Manana (1876), Toros Aghbar (1878-1879), Hamov-hotov (1884). Became Primate of the Trabzon Armenian Diocese in 1885. Died in Istanbul in 1892.
  • [10] Dzeron, pp. 58-59.
  • [11] Ibid., pp. 233-234.
  • [12] Ibid., p. 59.
  • [13] Ardashes H. Kardashian, Նիւթեր Եգիպտոսի Հայոց Պատմութեան համար, [Nyuter Yegiptosi Hayots Patmutyan hamar] [Material for the History of Egypt Armenians] Vol. 1 (Cairo, 1943) pp. 210-211; Alevor, p. A., 272.
  • [14] Alevor, p. b.
  • [15] Ibid., p. a. Elsewhere in the book, Alevor writes that he was in Beirut in 1933 (ibid., p. 333).
  • [16] Ibid., pp. 43-67.
  • [17] Ibid., pp. 86-119.
  • [18] Ibid. pp. 120-134.
  • [19] Ibid. pp. 139-178.
  • [20] Ibid. pp. 218-228.
  • [21] Ibid., p. 219.
  • [22] Dzeron, pp. 112-113.
  • [23] Ibid. pp. 31-98.
  • [24] Interview with Haig Sarkisian (Alevor’s grandson), February 9, 2013.
  • [25] Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory, p. 38.
  • [26] Dzeron, p. 44.
  • [27] Ibid. pp. 218, 228.
  • [28] Dzeron, pp. 23-30.
  • [29] Ibid., pp. 109, 141, 188-189, 232-234.
  • [30] Alevor, pp. 46, 148.
  • [31] Ibid., p. 154.
  • [32] Ibid., p. 253.
  • [33] Dzeron, pp. 130-131.
  • [34] Aşar is the main source of income for the Ottoman treasury. Levied on agricultural production.
  • [35] Dzeron, pp. 159-160.
  • [36] Ibid., p. 105.
  • [37] Ibid., p. 105.
  • [38] Ibid., p. 109.
  • [39] Selçuk Akşin Somel, The Modernization of Public Education in the Ottoman Empire, 1839-1908 (Leiden/Boston/Köln: Brill, 2001) pp. 42-43, 202-204; Benjamin C. Fortna, Imperial Classroom. Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) pp. 50-60.
  • [40] Dzeron, pp. 177-178.
  • [41] Ibid., pp. 178-179.
  • [42] Ibid., p. 181.
  • [43] Ibid., pp. 177-178.
  • [44] Manuk K. Jizmejian, Խարբերդ եւ իր զաւակները [Kharberd yev ir zavaknere] [Kharberd and its children] (Fresno, 1955) p. 667.
  • [45] Dzeron, p. 251.
  • [46] Ibid., p. 62.