What is Houshamadyan?

Houshamadyan is non-profitmaking association that was founded in Berlin, Germany, in 2010. It has a basic mission: to reconstruct and preserve the memory of Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire through research. The Houshamadyan Association has determined that this website, www.houshamadyan.org, will be the most suitable means to showcase the results of the Association’s work. For this reason, Houshamadyan Association’s primary aim is to maintain, finance, develop, expand, finalize, and enrich this website.

At present, Houshamadyan is primarily financed by individual gifts and donations. We hope that many of our visitors will be encouraged to make a small donation to show their appreciation for our work.

Our research encompasses all aspects of the history of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, including social history, the history of daily life, local microhistories, dialects, music, literature, tangible culture, and more. We are especially interested in collecting and preserving culturally valuable artifacts of all kinds produced by Ottoman Armenians, including musical recordings of historical value, old photographs, old film footage, and more. Equally important to our work are documents pertaining to Ottoman Armenian history, such as printed books, periodicals, and archival materials; as well as papers in individual collections, such as correspondence, unpublished notes, official documents, autobiographical details, etc. The contents of such collections can be scanned at high resolution and submitted to our editorial team for review. Moreover, we are highly interested in chronicling and documenting oral history by recording interviews and testimonies.

Once this website takes its final form, the Houshamadyan Association will organize scholarly conferences, lectures, and exhibitions focusing on the above-mentioned themes pertaining to the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire. Our future work will also include the publication of specialist works on relevant themes. Materials already published on our website will be selected, re-edited, and enriched for publication.

This website will be pivotal to Houshamadyan’s mission. We are convinced that the internet is the most practical, influential, and direct means of carrying out the wide scope of work required to reconstruct Ottoman Armenian memory. Moreover, it is our aim to create a collaborative site where each individual visitor can have the ability to make comments or submit memory objects that are in his or her possession – photographs, books, memoirs, etc. Thus, the website can grow and thrive collaboratively. Visitors will be able to electronically submit materials to our editorial team.

Our plan is not to make this website an exclusively Armenian preserve. It is true that the themes chosen mainly concern the Armenian nation; and therefore, a significant percentage of our visitors will be Armenians. Yes, Armenians were dispossessed and exiled from their native lands. Yes, their memory is still being eradicated in modern Turkey. Thus, there is no doubt that we intend to revive and revalue Ottoman Armenian memory – once more giving it its proper place in Ottoman heritage. But this doesn’t imply that this website will be a platform from which Armenians can “reclaim” their lost lands or reassert their dominion by supplanting others, namely Turks and Kurds, whose role and place in Anatolian village, town, and city history is invaluable and irreplaceable.

On the contrary, we are convinced that the memories of the villages, towns, and cities of the past, and which now lie within the borders of present-day Turkey, do not only concern Armenians. Yes, the focus of our research will be Ottoman-Armenian legacy. But this legacy is an indivisible part of a wider local heritage that reflected the coexistence of various groups. Similarly, the Houshamadyan website plans to be a collaborative space for today’s inhabitants of the places we examine, for individuals who are descendants of the native people of those places, for social scientists (particularly specialists in Ottoman studies and historians), and for all who believe in the importance of reconstructing such an indelible legacy. Finally, we are convinced that our work will be enriched and enhanced by the inclusion of the voices of the current inhabitants of these historical areas – individuals who are in direct contact with the “soil and water” of these places. Only then will our website succeed in becoming a platform where, through united efforts, we will reconstruct the true legacy of the Ottoman past. And only then will Houshamadyan achieve its aim.

We know that we face a daunting task. Yes, internet technology gives us the possibility to gather various, scattered, and difficult-to-find historiographical sources and artifacts. In this sense, we have already collected a trove of sources that allows us to launch large-scale efforts. But the challenge is to reconstruct the memory of approximately three thousand Armenian-populated Ottoman villages, towns, and cities. It may be impossible to find information about every single one of them. In other cases, the information we find may be very scant. But Houshamadyan is a long-term project. The ability to endlessly revise and update the website gives us the opportunity to refresh and enrich our materials and media.

As such, our website is an ever-open invitation to all visitors who wish to submit their own materials. We are ready to accept all types of historical items (articles, books, archival materials, photographs, maps, recordings, film, etc.) that may enrich our work. Our e-mail address for submissions is houshamadyan(at)googlemail.com, and we will immediately provide details regarding the potential use, terms and conditions, and author’s rights concerning any items submitted to us.