News Network / Groong


American Missionary Physician Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee Describes the 1915 “Harpoot Deportations”: with Appendix of some rare imagery from our files to complement what she wrote; included is the Infamous “Deportation Proclamation”


Armenian News Network / Groong
September 29, 2017

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

Long Island, NY


The Armenian Genocide is Rooted in Facts

“On March 16, 1915, the governor of our province [Sabit Bey] told a German vice-consul that they [the Armenians] had grown to such wealth and numbers, that they were a nuisance to the ruling race.”  Ruth A. Parmelee, M.D.

“No accounts ever printed are one whit exaggerated, for the suffering of those poor people could not have been conceived or imagined.”  Ruth A. Parmelee, M.D.



Before we write one more word we will emphasize that the designation Harpoot, very early spelled Kharpout by the Americans who entered the region in Asia Minor, Turkey-in-Asia and generally mispronounced as Karpout by most westerners, refers to what Armenians of Ottoman Turkey called Kharpert.  The Turks called it Harput [with a guttural ‘h’ as then used in Ottoman Turkish of the period] and still spell it so, but today the pronunciation of the h is always voiced as in the word half.  But there is at present, not very much at Harput.  It is developing somewhat, however, we are told, largely because of the commanding view it offers of the plain below.

The early American Protestant missionaries and travelers to the Kharpert region knew that the pronunciation of the place-name started with a guttural H (for Kh) Har-poot and said so in print more than once.  The spelling in English with an ‘H’ was, of course retained thereafter by those associated with the missionary establishment but an early reminder in print that it was to be pronounced with the guttural seems to have been lost by many.[1]  Of course, many missionaries learned to both speak and write the Armenian language, and we suppose Harpoot was pronounced properly by them.  If not, the spelling would reign supreme but the spelling Harpout would also creep in.  We have already given a fair amount of detail on the Kharpert regions in a previous Groong posting so we need not go into much more here.[2] 

The lower ‘twin city’ of Kharpert was called Mezereh, variously spelled, Mezreh, Mezre, Mezireh etc.  It had about half the population of the upper city.  Today, Elazig, a term derived from a contraction of a Turkish designation Mamuret ul-Aziz (again variously spelled), has replaced Mezereh.  Since the genocide, Elazig has evolved as a center and parts were periodically re-built and expanded, as occurs in all cities, very close to the old site of Mezereh but not all of it on the exact same site.  The main point is that there is no longer a place called Mezereh.

Our aim in presenting this posting is to showcase what an American professional who was on site during the genocide in Kharpert had to say about the events.  These derive from a typed document in the Hoover Institution collections of the Ruth Parmelee Papers[3].

To complement the account, we decided to select and present some photographs from our collections that have special significance for what she wrote.  They have merit on several counts.  First, they are rare and derive mostly from various special collections – a few are from her materials at Hoover.  If, by chance or design, they have been seen elsewhere by readers of this posting, we believe ‘our photographs’ are better quality because we have made a special point of getting the best available.  We include still other photographs which will not have been seen because we were given special access to them.  Secondly, we have included imagery that will hopefully help the reader picture places and people more exactly.  

Rather than interrupt the flow of Dr. Parmelee’s writing, we have elected to present the photographs at the end in an APPENDIX.  Only very short captions are employed.  The hope is that seeing the photographs will bring alive some of what Dr. Parmelee wrote about.  (We wish to underscore that this is not a pictorial or photographic history of the Armenian Genocide at Kharpert.)


Denying the Reality of the Armenian Genocide

Today, perhaps more than ever, we live in an environment in which preferred narratives and myths have come to replace facts and recorded and verifiable history.  One Professor of Journalism at Columbia University, Dr. Jelani Cobb, has referred to it as the sad environment of ą la Carte truth.  Individuals, or even countries are thereby entitled to pick and choose what they want to believe is the ‘truth.’  As one friend jokingly put it, “Whatever works best for you!”[4] 

By controlling the words, the language, and thus the narrative, one makes huge leaps forward in controlling the past.  We know that genocide is genocide and to call it by any other name is a disservice to truth.[5]

Many strategies have been used by those who would deny the reality of the genocide committed against the Armenians and other Christians of the Ottoman Turkish Empire.  Self-identified genocide scholars and ‘experts’ who are in ‘the Turkish Point of View Camp’ insist that one should ignore and essentially dismiss reports or accounts by missionaries since they are biased, intrinsically prejudiced against Muslims, and to top it off, their accounts are largely “hear-say.”[6]

Our response to this perspective is to simply say “There is ‘hear-say’ and there is ‘hear-say.’”

No one need go further than the various archival collections in several Universities in the United States to study the facts of the Armenian Genocide.  Inescapably, one will conclude that missionary scholars are among the most reliable and thorough authorities on the conditions that obtained on location, and on the events that occurred at that time in the Ottoman Empire.  One of us (ADK) while growing up had the disadvantage of hearing about the Genocide as it transpired in the Kharpert region and Syria from those who survived it.  The other of us (ELT) has read about it in books and archives across the country, heard it and videoed it from a few survivors like the Araxie Karagheusian Hubbard Palmer Dutton (see our Conscience Films YouTube site “Araxie Hubbard – the amazing story of an Armenian Orphan”, posted Feb. 6, 2014 and the late Baron Hagop Assadourian, born in Gürün – Gesaria, and latterly living in New Jersey (not yet posted).


A Few Words About Ruth Azniv Parmelee

Ruth Azniv Parmelee, M.D. was one of those who was on the spot, and without question her writings are not only relevant they are very significant!  They provide details that address some critical points of the events at Kharpert that might otherwise be very difficult to track down in other accounts.

Over the years, we have devoted some time to Dr. Parmelee’s work.  Our efforts have barely scratched the surface because they have been diluted with other efforts. 

Undoubtedly the full range of Ruth Parmelee’s activities and life’s work will qualify her as a candidate for incorporation into any film about the period, or even a biographical film with her as the centerpiece.  Why this has not been to date ‘beats us.’

Ruth Parmelee was born in Trebizond, Turkey 3 April 1885 and died in Concord, New Hampshire on 15 December 1973 at the age of 88.  (Parenthetically, she is buried in Newton Cemetery in the Lot owned by the American Board of Foreign Missions – Section I/South, Range P, Lot 25.)   She had served first as a medical missionary and an educator of nurses in Harpoot.  She later went back to Turkey with the first group of ACRNE (American Committee for Relief in the Near East) volunteers as a physician doing relief work in 1919, again in Harpoot.  Still later after being ‘deported’ from Turkey by the Kemalists (in the eyes of some “for having saved too many Armenian and Greek babies”), she served in Greece for several decades caring for refugees and orphans and training nurses etc. for several decades.[7]  Her parents, Moses P. Parmelee and Julia Farr Parmelee, were missionaries and served in Turkey many years.[8]  It was Ruth’s plan to follow in their footsteps.  

Dr. Parmelee earned her A.B. from Oberlin College in 1907 and her M.D. degree at the University of Illinois Medical School in 1912 and received additional training in Philadelphia.  

In June of 1914 Dr. Parmelee and her mother arrived in Harpoot after journeying some 300 miles by spring carriage (yaili in Turkish) from Samsun on the Black Sea coast having disembarked and continued by steamer from Constantinople. [See Appendix for Photos] 

To quote her “There were about sixteen adults engaged in Mission Work at Harpoot station at the time.”   She was, and again we quote:- “just in time,” to “enter medical relief work necessitated by war conditions.”  She very soon “opened a dispensary and began to visit patients in their homes.” 

Dr. Parmelee continues:

“The American Hospital at Harpoot [located in Mezereh], was during this period, subsidized by the American Red Cross to care for Turkish soldiers.  The conditions were, thus, not favorable for developing hospital care for women patients; also, in the absence of many of the doctors of the community, who had been called for military service, there was a special need for general and obstetrical practice in the homes….

“In the second year of my service, we entered a phase of definite relief work for Armenian refugees, who had escaped from the deportations carried on in so unwholesome a manner, throughout those war months.(our emphasis)  The Turkish and Kurdish women still came for the aid of the woman physician, but most my attention was required by the poor wretches, lying on piles of rags under leaking roofs, sick of typhus fever and other diseases due to lack of nourishment and proper sanitation.  Obliged, as I was, to squat on the ground when paying visits to these poor patients, it was impossible to avoid the infection-carrying insect, so that an attack of typhus fever was added to my list of war experiences.”(end quote)

We cannot refrain from noting here that we believe that the circumspect description above given in bold type of what happened is little short of amazing to us.  Anyone choosing to use these excerpts from Dr. Parmelee’s “Reminiscences of Twenty Years in the Near East” published in Women in Medicine (January 1936) vol. 51, pgs. 20 – 23 could easily conclude that it was simply a challenging time indeed during war conditions.  Period!

Let us quickly add in Dr. Parmelee’s defense that the account from which our quote is drawn was written in 1936 and it was essentially a brief ‘reminiscence’ written on the occasion of one of the many awards given her, and had been reprinted from Medical Review of Reviews.  It was not a publication in which she was to go into particulars that occurred in 1915 to 1917!  To quote the Armenian survivors of the Genocide, Eghadzuh eghereh, “What has happened, has happened.”

We shall see below that Dr. Parmelee excavated in her description that we present below the genocidal nature of what happened to the Armenians much more thoroughly. (Be reminded here of the quotes in our epigraphs at the outset of this paper.)  While her account is not dated, it clearly was written after she got back to the U.S.A. in 1917.  Or perhaps even as she was travelling back to the United States.  We do not have any data on what she planned to do, or actually did with her account.  That is one of the reasons why it is of so much interest in our view.

In her booklet “A Pioneer in the Euphrates Valley” (self-published in 1967) Dr. Parmelee provides a broad, concise picture of the events associated with the Armenian Genocide as it unfolded at Harpoot.[9]

But we quickly add that what we present below from her archival papers is yet another rendering (note that we do not say different version – the facts remain the same) of the events and period that Dr. Parmelee presented in 1967.  See Photos in our Appendix after reading her report below.)  

Some time back we had intended to integrate and incorporate her several writings, both published and unpublished, into a whole but we quickly learned that it would be a lifetime’s task unto itself if we were to do a proper job so we went onto other things.  There was, to use a hackneyed phrase, ‘too much on our plate.’

In any case, there are some perspectives and facts not described in “A Pioneer…” and attention should be drawn to her experiences, observations, and her special insights and interpretations in the account that follows. 

As mentioned above, we have also been fortunate enough to have had access to a wide range of period photographs.  These should help one ‘picture’ some of the places and events. (See Appendix.)

In this limited way we hope that some measure of completeness emerges and that at least they help set a stage to a level that would never be accurately surmised from the usual accounts in more general publications.  For us, the human element rises above everything else.

The following is Dr. Parmelee’s Report.


The Armenian Deportations by Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee

From the Hoover Archives – Ruth Parmelee Papers


“On the first of August 1914, Turkey began to mobilize her troops.  Ever since the new Constitution of 1908, Christians had served in the army as well as Mohammedans.  At this time, therefore, the Armenians were called to the colors.  The more prosperous ones were allowed to pay an exemption tax of about $200.00 [inflation calculation of $4700 US today].  Armenian merchants could be called upon to furnish goods for the Turkish army, and tradesmen were often obliged to render free service to the government.  In these ways, Armenians were serving their country, although to some extent involuntarily.

“After the Russian successes on the Caucasus front in Jan. 1915, the Turks began to regard the Armenians in a suspicious light and to treat them as disloyal and traitorous subjects.  First of all, Armenian soldiers were disarmed and put at constructive and agricultural tasks.  A little later, all civilians were ordered to give up any firearms they might have in their possession.  There was a special effort to locate and imprison all leaders in any Armenian national society.  All prominent men of the community were looked upon with suspicion, however, and the first company to be imprisoned in Harpoot on May 1st 1915 included college professors, merchants, priests and leading men in all walks of life.  Their houses were searched for papers that might incriminate them as leaders in a revolutionary plot, while severe tortures were inflicted upon them to extract confessions as to hidden firearms, the preparation of bombs etc.

“Some weeks after imprisonment, this company of influential men were deported.  From time to time, other groups of Armenian men were gathered, imprisoned for a few days, then sent off, bound together and under strong guard.  Rumors came back to us, but it was not until our own druggist [Melkon Lulejian, Euphrates College Professor Don abed Grabbed Lulejian’s brother], by a miracle, was out loose from his bonds and escaped from the midst of the killing, that we were able to realize what this deportation meant.[10] (Also in the Appendix we include a photograph from inside the “Pharmacy Ottoman” in Harpoot.)  

“His company of 800 men had been taken only a few hours’ journey from the city and had been deliberately killed by their own guards.  Of the 798 or 799 who did not escape, a number were well known to us.  One of them was my own teacher in the Turkish language [Hovhaness Dingilian, who was also a treasurer of Jerad College], a man trusted and respected for his integrity, as few of his race had ever been.  About an hour before his arrest, he told me that he did not expect to attempt to escape, as that might bring greater danger on those who would remain, but would accept death as his lot, knowing that he would go to be with Jesus. (Hovhaness Dingilian is at the left hand side of the ‘Ottoman Pharmacy photograph’, along with Melkon Lulejian and others.)

“Some 1200 Armenian soldiers who had been working in the fields were brought into the city, starved for some days, and taken out in a similar manner.  (See Appendix for some photographs of a field of wheat and general view in the area below Harpoot probably in the vicinity of the village of Yegheke.)  

“Among this number were two sons of our senior professor [Nigohos Tenekejian].  He himself was in the first group of influential men who were sent out and killed.  As the leader of the Protestant community he was deemed worthy of the most severe tortures inflicted upon that group.  When visited in prison by a relative, he said “I have suffered as Christ suffered, but He has helped me until now, and I am sure He will do so until the end.”  His wife and younger children were deported in the same manner to be described, only one daughter escaping from that family.

“Then came the order for the remaining men and all the women and children to prepare for their journey into exile. 

“Here is a copy of the deportation order that was sent out by the central government.  [Not found in the Parmelee Papers at the Hoover by us.  But relevant Paperwork and copies of the Order that was obtained by United States Consul Oscar Heizer at Trebizond in latter part of June 1915 are included in the Appendix.  It seems unlikely that the Harpoot notice would be different from the Trebizond one that was sent by Consul Heizer to Ambassador Morgenthau in Constantinople.]  “The local authorities were at liberty to change such an order in minor points, so that every report of this proclamation may not read the same.”  We would here add also, that allowances must be made for translations to English given Ottoman Turkish composition and style of writing. The facts remain the same.  See pgs. 659 – 660 of “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire; documents presented to Viscount Grey of Fallodon…by Arnold Joseph Toynbee, 1916 for another very close but not exact version.]  

[Added by ADK and ELT:- As an example of a “Local Authority” we provide a photograph of the Vali of the Vilayet of Mamuret ul Aziz, Sabit Bey. See Appendix for photograph.)

“Our fellow countrymen the Armenians, who form one of the racial elements of the Ottoman Empire having taken up as a result of foreign instigation, for many years past, with a lot of false ideas of a nature to disturb the public order; and because of the fact that they brought about bloody happenings and have attempted to destroy the peace and happiness of their fellow-countrymen, as well as of themselves; and moreover, as they have now dared to join themselves to the enemy of their existence* [i.e. Russia] or state:- our government is compelled to adopt the extraordinary measures and sacrifices.  Both for the welfare and continuation of the existence of the Armenian community.  Therefore, as a measure to be applied until the completion of the war, the Armenians have to be sent away to places which have been prepared in the interior provinces; and a literal obedience to the following orders in a categorical manner is accordingly enjoined on all Ottomans:-

I.                 All Armenians with the exception of the sick, are obliged to leave within five days by villages or quarters and under the escort of the gendarmerie.

II.                Though they are free to carry with them on their journey the articles of their movable property which they desire, they are forbidden to sell their lands and their extra effects, or to leave the latter here and there with other people, because their exile is only temporary and their landed property and the effects they will be unable to take with them, will be taken care of under supervision of the government and stored in closed protected buildings.

I.                 Contains promise of safe conduct.

II.                A threat against anyone attempting to molest them on the way.

III.              A threat against those resisting these orders.”

“Several comments might well be made on this order.  Of all the races dwelling in the Ottoman Empire there could be none more peace-loving and industrious than the Armenian race.  They were the merchants, the tailors, the shoemakers, and with the exception of a few hot-headed members of the race, rebellion was the farthest from their thoughts.”

Dr. Parmelee follows this sentence with and we quote:- “Instead of the word “existence” of the Armenian community, it would have been nearer to the truth to have put “extermination”.(our emphasis) 

“As a “temporary” measure, the deportations were an utter failure.  The sick and the aged were not exempted from this journey.  The property left behind was all too well taken care of by the Turkish government, or by individuals.(our emphasis) 

The following account will show how the promise was kept for their safe conduct.

“As soon as this order was proclaimed, the Armenian families began to make preparations for their journey.  The morning that the first group left our city, it was heart-rending to see with what terror they looked forward to this journey of which they knew they might fear everything.  And yet, in the midst of such fear as oppressed races can know, was to be found much Christian faith and courage.  They said “We are going out to die,” and yet those stronger ones in faith were encouraging their companions.  One woman in that company had refused deliverance rather than to run the risk of being urged to give up her Christian faith.”

And Dr. Parmelee continues, and again we quote:- “The man who had promised to protect her was a sincere friend of the Armenians, as many Turks were, down deep in their hearts, but other Mohammedans more fanatical, might bring pressure to bear upon her.

“What we can tell of the terrible things endured by all those hundreds and thousands of poor creatures, from hunger, thirst, sickness, literal nakedness under the burning sun, and worse, from the outrages of the human beasts set upon them to do their worst! 

“No accounts ever printed are one whit exaggerated, for the suffering of those poor people could not have been conceived or imagined.  

“Mothers saw their girls kidnapped by Kurds or Turks; their husbands and sons taken away to be killed, or even shot down before their very eyes; their dear ones left sick by the roadside.  Sometimes, in desperation women would throw their little babies into the river.  One day we made a visit to a camp of exiles who had come long days’ and weeks’ journey from the north.  As the poor hungry creatures crowded around us, and begged for something to eat, they seemed hardly human. 

“But it was a mercy, perhaps, that their capacity to suffer had become somewhat dulled, or they could not have endured it all.  In the middle of the camp grounds a square trench had been dug, into which from time to time, dead bodies were laid.  The exiles knew that their probable fate would eventually be either that trench, having died from disease or starvation, or death by violence.  Many hundreds met their fate in our province, after traveling many weary miles in roundabout paths and over rocky and hilly roads. 

“Night by night they would encamp in spots which had been occupied before them, reeking with filth and vermin, and would be subject to all sorts of outrages.  Day by day they would be robbed either by their own guards, or by marauders who were allowed to come upon them.

“One of our college professors [Moosek Vorperian - we prefer spelling Moosegh] was not imprisoned like the rest, but was sent out with his family.  He was a man of strong character and good education, having returned from a postgraduate year at Princeton University.  While on the road, a Turkish officer asked for the professor’s daughter in marriage.  The professor could not grant his request, and held to his determination, even at the risk of his life.  He considered it better for himself and his beautiful girl to lose their lives rather than that she should marry a Mohammedan.  The father died for his principles, and we gloried in the fact that the girl was not taken with his consent!  Of course, the officer got the daughter.

“Among the exiles that left Trebizond on the sea-coast, were a tailor and his wife and three daughters.  After some days of wearisome traveling, the men of the party were separated from their families, according to the usual procedure, and were taken away to be killed.  The tailor’s family continued on their way with their convoy.  The mother, fearing that her oldest girls, about fifteen years old, would be kidnapped, tried to hide her from the view of the guards, and had her continually carry her little sister on her back.  Finally, one day, this oldest daughter was taken sick.  The mother was not allowed to stay with her, but was obliged by the guards to press on with her company, leaving her sick care to the care of a kindly guard.  Only the mothers who went through those experiences can imagine how that woman felt as she abandoned her daughter to death, or what was feared worse than death.  Miraculously, this girl’s story has a happier ending than that of many of her companions.  She recovered her health and succeeded in reaching the American missionaries at Harpoot.  Happy surroundings and good care helped to remove the terrible fear from which she had suffered on the road, and her grief for her lost mother was one whom she had mourned as dead!  Can you imagine the joy of that mother to find her girl in the home of an American missionary, rather than a member of a Turkish harem!

“What was the cause for this effort to exterminate the Armenian race?  There is no doubt that there was a definite plan to wipe out the whole nation.  Enver Pasha, Minister of War, told the American Ambassador that it was the plan of the Turkish government to get rid of the Armenians, the Greeks, then the foreigners, and have Turkey for the Turks. (our emphasis)

“On March 16, 1915, the governor of our province [Sabit Bey, see photo in Appendix] told a German vice-consul that they had grown to such wealth and numbers, that they were a nuisance to the ruling race.(our emphasis)

“Those who have studied the matter most carefully, suspect that Germany did more than just to close her eyes to what was going on in Turkey during those months of 1915.  It is very significant that the German censor tried at once to suppress certain articles in missionary periodicals, sent from Turkey by German eyewitnesses, describing the Armenian deportations.

“The German and Turkish apologists argue along three lines. 

“1st that the Armenian uprising in Van justified the government in taking steps to make other such rebellions impossible in the future.  Reliable witnesses of that Van event testify that the Turks, especially the governor of that province, instigated the trouble and the Armenians fought only in self-defense.  Moreover, this outbreak took place some 12 days after the first deportation in another part of the Empire. (our emphasis) 

“2nd that a general revolutionary plot had been laid among the Armenians, and it was necessary to nip it in the bud.  No satisfactory evidence has ever been found to prove this theory; the majority of the able-bodied Armenians were in the Turkish army; the civilians had very few arms in their possession, although by the new constitution they had been allowed to carry arms; very few of the bombs which the government were seeking, ever materialized. 

“Why punish the whole race for the possible disloyalty of a few individuals?  Talaat Bey, Grand Vizier, made the following explanation, “We have been reproached for making no distinction between the innocent Armenians and the guilty, but that is wholly impossible, in view of the fact that those who were innocent today might be guilty tomorrow.” 

“3rd that is was human nature to be revenged on the Armenians at home for the injuries received from their compatriots at the Caucasus front.  Many Armenians who had been living in Russia, had enlisted in the Russian army as volunteers, whereas an Armenian national society in Turkey had refused to organize to aid in invading Russian territory.  These facts galled the Turks so much, that after the Russian successes of that second winter, they took steps to render the Ottoman Armenians powerless, and later attempted to exterminate them completely.

“Although our province was a slaughter-house for thousands of exiles brought from different regions to the north of us, a number of people from these convoys escaped and remained in or near the city. (our emphasis)

“Then, although thousands were deported from our province to suffer unspeakable things in their wanderings toward the south, yet several thousands in the villages round about, succeeded in hiding when the deportation was decreed.  After the immediate danger of being exiled seemed past, many of these refugees flocked to the city of Harpoot without food, clothing, or household utensils.  Immediate relief was needed.  For a year and a half before we left, our circle was occupied in providing bread, clothing and work, if possible, for these women and children; fighting the diseases resulting from the filth and lack of nourishment; running a primary school for several hundred orphans and a boarding-school for nearly a hundred homeless girls; and using all these forms of work as a means of spiritual influence.

“At the present we get very bits of news from our station in Armenia.  The burden of such messages is that the money is going through Turkey by way of Switzerland, but it is not nearly enough to fill the enormous need.  No one need be afraid that the money goes into unfriendly hands, for it is administered by American and European relief workers.

“Some two or three millions, including 400,000 little orphans, are looking to America for their daily bread.  Last summer when for several months relief funds could not reach Turkey, many actually starved, proving that these multitudes are dependent entirely on the funds that go from the U.S.  Thus, for humanitarian reasons, we must heed the cry of these many hungry ones.

“Then, too, because we are Americans and are in the war to give liberty to the oppressed peoples of the earth, we must send help to the martyr nations over in Asia Minor and the Caucasus.  Our soldiers are giving their lives for the freedom of the small nations of the earth, and shall we not sacrifice a little of our abundant means to give to those people their daily bread?  Just as we hope to give liberty to Belgium, Poland, Servia, Roumania, and Armenia, so we must now help them to live, so as to enjoy that liberty when it comes, as come it must. 

“We are hoping and praying that the Turkish Empire may never have the power it has had in the past.  Not that the Turkish people must be annihilated – they need good government just as much as their subject races.  But the rulers of Asia Minor, now these many centuries, have proved themselves unfit even their own people, let alone their oppressed races.  It will be a blot on Christendom, if when peace is made, the Sick Man of Turkey remains in power.

“Not only a good form of government do we wish to give Armenia and the adjoining territory, but a Christian civilization.  The hope of carrying out this work will lie largely in saving now these little Armenians and giving them Christian education as soon as circumstances permit.  And then, are these not the representatives of the One who said, “Inasmuch as ye did it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me?” [Matthew 25:40] 

“There would never have to be any appeals made for help, if only the people of Christian America could see the ragged women walking barefoot on the snow; could hear the little ones crying from hunger and cold; could see the sick and suffering ones lying on bundles of rags on the hard ground floors which are often muddy and wet!

End of Dr. Parmelee’s account of the Deportations.



[1] See for example The Missionary Herald vol. 72 January (1876) pg. 5.

[2] What follows in this endnote derives from Rev. Dr. Herman N. Barnum’s “Sketch of the Harpoot Station, Eastern Turkey” in The Missionary Herald vol. 88, April 1892 pgs. 144-147.

Quote:- “The city of Harpoot has a population of perhaps 20,000, and it is located a few miles east of the river Euphrates, near latitude thirty-nine, and east from Greenwich about thirty-nine degrees. It is on a mountain facing south, with a populous plain 1,200 feet below it.  The Taurus Mountains lie beyond the plain, twelve miles away.  The Anti-Taurus range lies some forty miles to the north in full view from the ridge just back of the city.  The surrounding population are mostly farmers, and they all live in villages.  No city in Turkey is the centre of so many Armenian villages, and the most of them are large.  Nearly thirty can be counted from different parts of the city.  This makes Harpoot a most favorable missionary centre.  Fifteen out-stations lie within ten miles of the city. The Arabkir field, on the west, was joined to Harpoot in 1865, and the following year…the larger part of the Diarbekir field on the south; so that now the limits of the Harpoot station embrace a district nearly one third as large as New England.”[End quote]  [A “station” according in a footnote on pg. 32 of Rev. Crosby H. Wheeler’s Ten Years on the Euphrates is applied to a city occupied by missionaries, and “out-station” to a place occupied by native laborers.]  See also Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor (Groong January 6, 2014) “Christmas Celebration for Armenian Orphans in Merzeh (Kharpert) January 8th, 1920: From Letters and Photographs.”

[3] The collection of Ruth A. Parmelee papers at Hoover Institution at Stanford, California (Collection Number 74099) comprises 7 manuscript boxes of 2.9 linear feet.  A diary is part of the collection.

[4] The comedians of America invent and incessantly ridicule and jeer at words like “truthiness’ or “alternative facts.”  Few would doubt that all counties and cultures are susceptible to re-writing and recasting their histories in a vastly more favorable light than would withstand careful historical study and scrutiny.  The United States of America has not been immune to doing so.  As one particularly outrageous example we may cite the attempt by former governor of Indiana Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. (2005-2013) to censor or ban the late Howard Zinn’s immensely popular and ruthlessly truthful “People’s History of the United States” (first published 1980) from schools and Universities of ‘his’ state.  He is now the President of Purdue University.  Just how and why he was selected is for someone else to say.  The state of Arkansas also tried to ban Zinn’s History.  As yet another, more recent example, we should mention the setting of the stage for The Vietnam War series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick on Public Television with a script that reflects what a friend of ours referred to as nothing less than a revisionist “whitewash job.”  We subscribe completely to the review and commentary by journalist and documentary film maker John Pilger in his masterly article aptly entitled “The Killing of History.”  See “Information Clearing House”

But we need now to get back to the immediate theme of this paper and the perspective of denying the reality of the Armenian Genocide.  We believe that it will be helpful if we reduce it, in addition to the constantly-repeated mantra that ‘we Turks do not commit genocide’ – a theme that all Turks today understandably want to believe - to the matter of ‘money.’   On that aspect, everyone should read, indeed study, Hilmar Kaiser’s contribution “Armenian property, Ottoman Law and Nationality Policies during the Armenian Genocide, 1915 -1916” in The First World War as Remembered in the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean by Olaf Farschid, Manfred Kropp, Step an Dohme, Eds., 2006, Orient Institutes, Beirut) pgs. 49 – 71.  This excellent article is, unfortunately and all-too-typically, buried in a little-read literature.  It is nevertheless very important literature.  Whether it is because works of this sort are not easily accessible, or for other reasons we shall let others to guess or decide.  For ‘our money’, it is an excellent candidate for reprinting and widespread distribution.  With a very short fresh Introduction it could have been (and still could be) a mainstay in any effort to get the word out about an important aspect of the Armenian Genocide.  Rest assured that United States libraries, especially University and College libraries are replete with titles ‘generously’ donated by those in the ‘Turkish Camp’ for inclusion in their holdings.  We would argue that one cannot be blind to the fact that ‘the Armenian side’ seems loathe to dedicate adequate funds to ensuring that relevant works produced by scholars of the Armenian Genocide reach a broader audience.  ‘The side,’ it seems to us, to have money for other, oftentimes more social activities but clearly not for financial support of scholarly activity.  Financial support does not mean a few bucks here and there.  Kirk Kerkorian in deceased, and one cannot think that it is enough for some other millionaire or billionaire to come along and fund it all! We all have an obligation. One can get an idea of the distinctive quality of the excellent work by Dr. Hilmar Kaiser by listening to his presentation “Assimilation of Armenians1915-1917…” made at the conference on Islamized Armenians: Islamized in 1915: History and bearing witness (Hart Dink Foundation). Uploaded December 4, 2013 on YouTube

His presentation begins at about 1hour and 22 minutes into the video.

No one would deny that each of us ‘wants to hear what we want to hear.’  If fostering better understanding of the Armenian Genocide is to be nominally achievable through education, then one would be forced to conclude that the job is not being done adequately.  Enough said!  Our stance is clear.  We will, however, end this endnote by pointing out the paper written years ago by the outstanding intellectual (and predictably underappreciated) Vahé Oshagan entitled “The theme of the Armenian Genocide in Diaspora Prose” in The Armenian Review vol. 38, no. 1-149 (spring), pgs. 51-60.  He concludes his paper with the following words, and we quote:- “Armenians still have to realize how and why surviving a Genocide is a privileged experience, that the trek to hell and back gives them a wisdom that few other nations have had.  Until they extract this message for all peoples…the theme of one of one of the greatest crimes of the twentieth century will not reveal its secrets.” End quote.

[5] See YouTube video by Eugene L. Taylor and Abraham D. Krikorian Raphael Lemkin on the Genesis of the Concept of the Word Genocide, Connecting the dots between the Ottoman Turkish Genocide and the Armenians and the Nazi Genocide

“Educating the public and mustering support for the ratification of the Genocide Convention: Transcript of United Nations Casebook Chapter XXI: Genocide, A 13 February 1949 Television Broadcast hosted by Quincy Howe with Raphael Lemkin, Emanuel Ciller and Ivan Kern.”  It originally appeared in the now defunct journal started at Penn State Altoona in 2006 entitled War Crimes, Genocide & Crimes against Humanity vol. 5 (2011): pgs. 91-124.  The attractiveness of that journal was that it was envisioned as open access, free and thus readily available online.  It was fate that the editor decided to discontinue the publication.  We incorporated our paper into our YouTube presentation.  It is slowly becoming better known.  It is the only place we know where the entire program is reproduced.  It is certainly the only place where what was said is fully transcribed.

 [6] We maintain that only those who have an agenda, hidden or otherwise, have attempted to denigrate the missionaries and call into question anything they had to say.  Whatever they may have been, the missionaries were not liars.  (See e.g. Robert Fisk’s Great War for Civilization (Alfred Knopf, NY 2005). Chapter 10, pgs. 310-155 which is entitled “The First Holocaust.”  And, especially the essay in Chapter 2 of his Age of the Warrior (Nation Books, NY, 2008 pgs. 55-59 reprinted from his article in The Independent of 14 August 2006.) entitled “Publish and be damned Or stay silent?” Fisk introduces his essay with, and we quote:- “The Armenian genocide of 1915 ─ the systematic murder of one and a half million Christian Armenians by the Ottoman Turks during the First World war ─ was one of the most terrible atrocities visited upon humanity in the twentieth century.  Yet modern-day Turkey is permitted by its Western allies ─ who fully acknowledged these crimes against humanity at the time ─ to deny that this Holocaust ever took place.  To our peril ─ and to our shame ─ we refuse to condemn the Ottoman Turks for what proved to be the testing ground for Hitler’s destruction of European Jewry in the Second World war.  Little did I realize, when I first researched the Armenian genocide, that my own writing would become tangled in Turkey’s refusal to acknowledge history.” End quote (our emphasis)

Those who would prefer to despise or ignore what the missionaries had to say or write because missionaries are and always have been, among other things, biased fanatics and anti-Muslim zealots, have ‘zero leg’ to stand on.  It is largely a contrived view based on selective reading, or even pure fabrication.  Those who seek to promote this very mistaken view of essentially a tiny number of missionaries, apparently so talented and influential that they promulgated the very unfair view all over the place of the “terrible Turk” may not say it so bluntly, but rest assured that is the intended message.  Missionaries would on that view be the tail that wagged the dog.  Explain that if you will.  One particularly egregious rendition of this viewpoint is reflected in Justin McCarthy’s The Turk in America: creation of an enduring prejudice.  Salt Lake City, University of Utah Press, ix, 499 pgs. (2010).  We would argue that one could spend a lifetime providing an interlineal criticism of virtually everything written in that work.  But that is another story.  First and foremost, the role taken on by the missionaries of the period, certainly the period preceding, during and after the genocide, was that of promoting education and providing relief.  Religious proselytizing was to all intents and purposes quite secondary.  We (ADK and ELT) can be accused of promoting racial hatred by stating the truth but what remains if the truth is discarded and factual history is re-written?  Besides, as biologists we know that the concept of “race” is completely invalid and bogus.

We ask “How can we promote racial hatred if there is no such thing as “race?”

[7] For Ruth Parmelee’s work with nurses see Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill’s “Sisters of Mercy and Survival: Armenian Nurses, 1900 - 1930” (2012, Printing House of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia.)  The jacket of that volume has a group photograph of Dr. Parmelee and Dr. Mark H. Ward and the Armenian nurses taken seated on the front steps of the American Hospital (Annie Tracy Riggs Hospital) in Mezereh.  We were at the Hoover Archives years ago working on the Parmelee papers when Isabel and her husband popped into the Archives for a bit.  We relinquished files pulled for us on Dr. Parmelee for Isabel’s use at the time since we were going to be there for a longer period than she intended because of time constraints.  We mention this as an aside since it is the only time we have ever encountered Armenians in any Archives where we have been working.  One final aside we wish to make is that missionaries like Dr. Ruth Parmelee were sometimes accused of being prudish.  Hardly.  She was a physician.  And, we need not go into details but her brother Maurice, two years her senior, who had a Ph.D. from Columbia and who was an unusually talented man and had a varied career of service, was a very early writer on nudism.  One of his books is still in print!  Many of his papers are at Yale.

For some of our work on Ruth A. Parmelee see for instance some of our postings on Groong.  Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor (Groong November 5, 2015) “Photographic Data from Ordinarily (but not invariably) Authoritative and Richly Illustrated Accounts Can Be Expanded.  A case of an incorrectly attested photograph in a 1906 issue of the French journal Le Tour du Monde shows a young Ruth A. Parmelee, her brother Julius and father, Dr. Moses P. Parmelee in Trebizond 1895 at the Time of the Hamidian Massacres!”  See; Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor (Groong June 13, 2011) “Filling in the Picture: Postscript to a Description of the Well-Known 1915 Photograph of Armenian Men of Kharpert Being Led Away under Armed Guard.”  See; Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor (Groong June 27, 2011) “Finding a Photograph for a Caption: - - - Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee's Comments on some Euphrates (Yeprad) College Professors and their Fate during the Armenian Genocide.” See

[8] Moses Payson Parmelee was born in Vermont in 1834 and died in Beirut on October 4, 1902 where he had gone for a surgical operation.  His first wife died, and the second Mrs. Parmelee, who was born in Vermont in 1840, died in June 1917 in Harpoot and was buried in the cemetery at the Garden on the hill.  (We will cover a return visit to Harpoot in June,1956 by Dr. Parmelee in a future posting.)  Rev. Parmelee’s Life Scenes among the Mountains of Ararat (1868, Sabbath School Society, Boston) has some charming woodcuts featuring ‘Erzroom’ and the Armenians.  Incidentally, we cannot recall whether we have drawn attention to the American Board Memorial Book and Card File in Istanbul at  One can search by surname.  Another source for biographical data on missionaries may be found in the so-called Vinton Books.  Volume III covers the American Board Missions (to 1886) in: the Near East; Persia – Mission to Nestorians; Syria; Turkey – including European Turkey, i.e. the Balkans.  See the Congregational Library & Archives at

[9] Ruth A. Parmelee, A Pioneer in the Euphrates Valley (self-published, 1967), 57 pages. Reprinted in 2002 as A Pioneer in the Euphrates Valley, New ed., (Princeton and London: Gomidas Institute).  Incredible to us at least, a copy of the original was recently sold at some fantastic price!

 [10] Dr. Parmelee is referring to Garabed Lulejian.  His son, Garabed Donabed Lulejian attended Cornell University as a “special student” in the fall of 1909, spring of 1910.  Based on his transcript, he took courses in biology, invertebrate zoology, vertebrate zoology, botany, human physiology, and entomology.  He seems to have been a distinguished student, receiving grades in the 80s and 90s, which was very unusual for that period before “grade inflation.”  Garabed Donabed Lulejian was born January 2, 1875.  His parent or guardian is listed as Garabed Lulejian, Pharmacy Ottoman, Harpoot, “Turkey in Asia” and the school he last attended was Euphrates College.  Details are courtesy of University Archives, Division of Rare and Manuscripts Collections, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.  He got a Master’s degree from Yale.

Note: Although the Cornell files show his name as Garabed Donabed Lulejian, the photos of the professors at Yeprad College bear the name in the Armenian alphabet as Donabed Garabed – that is D. G. equivalent.  In like manner, spelling of the surname has also been rendered Loulejian.  He was apparently referred to by family as “Donabed” not Garabed.




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Fig. 1

Ruth Azniv Parmelee’s card file.  A lifetime of service is crammed into one side.

See Endnote 8 for the ABCFM Istanbul.



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Fig. 2

Frontispiece portrait and title page from original copy of her privately printed 1967 booklet.

See Endnote 9.



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Fig. 3

From the 1967 booklet.



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Fig. 4

From Oberlin College Archives.



Fig. 5

Ruth A. Parmelee and her mother at a conference in Kalamazoo, Michigan in January, 1912.



Fig. 6

A crop from the page shown in Fig 4.



Fig. 7

Closeup crop from Fig. 6 to show Ruth on the right and her mother on the left.




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Fig. 8

Meeting of the Missionaries in Eastern Turkey Mission in 1914 at Harpoot.  Dr. Parmelee is on the lower right.



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Fig. 9

 A crop and enlargement made from a similar but not exact photograph of the same group.



Fig. 10

Dr. Parmelee knitting during some leisure time.  One gets the feeling that no time was wasted.

Her duties were varied and all-consuming.



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Fig. 11

The approach to Harput on the winding road from the lower town of Mezereh leading to the upper city.

This photograph comes from the MacDaniels collection at Oberlin College.



Fig. 12

View of some of the upper city and a bit of the plain below on the right side as seen from one of the windows of the mission buildings.

Sourp Hagop Armenian church (Saint James) is more or less ‘dead-center.’



Fig. 13

Panoramic photo of the upper city.   Note the extreme rockiness.

This photograph derives from the Ruth Parmelee files at Hoover Institution.



Fig. 14

Enlargement of the left side of the ‘panorama’ at Fig. 13.



Fig. 15

Enlargement of the right side of the ‘panorama’ at Fig. 13.  Note the grave markers.

This photograph gives a good view of the situation of the Mission building.

The fellow in the photograph remains unidentified.



Fig. 16

Kharpert city view showing the Missionary Establishment and its buildings like Euphrates College.  Sourp Hagop (Saint James Church) is ‘dead center.’

This photograph derives from the K.S. Melikian materials now deposited in the Library of Congress.  So far as we know, the collection has not yet been made available online.

Like many such ‘deposits’ at the Library of Congress, it probably will not be made available without pressure from the [Armenian] community.  Funding to expedite the process would not be remiss either!



Fig. 17

Kharpert city view showing the rooftops that connected so many of the buildings.

This photograph derives from the K.S. Melikian materials now deposited in the Library of Congress.  So far as we know, the collection has not yet been made available online.

Like many such ‘deposits’ at the Library of Congress, it probably will not be made available without pressure from the [Armenian] community.  Funding the effort to expedite the process would not be remiss either!



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Fig. 18

View of the shugah [market] area of Mezereh.  Note the rather unsophisticated appearance.

This photograph derives from the period before the Genocide began.

From a private collection.



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Fig. 19

This, and the following 9 images (Figs. 20 to 28) relate to the American Hospital at Harpoot.  The official name was the Annie Tracy Riggs Hospital but most called it the American Hospital.

This photograph, and crops and enlargements made from it, is from the Ruth Parmelee Papers at Hoover Institution.

The photograph is particularly instructive because it shows the wall around it.  The house at the left is where Dr. Henry H.  Atkinson and his family lived.



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Fig. 20

Scan of a postcard (desaturated image) of the American Hospital. The symbols denote ‘who worked where.’  The key on the back of the postcard is given in Fig. 21.

This postcard is part of a collection given to us by the late Mary C. Masterson who was born in that Hospital.

See Mary C. Masterson, Daughter of Harput Consul William W. Masterson, Dead at Age 92 on Groong June 11, 2007



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Fig. 21

Key to the markings on the front of the card.


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Fig. 22

Photograph from which we believe the color postcard was produced.



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Fig. 23



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Fig. 24



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Fig. 25



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Fig. 26



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Fig. 27



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Fig. 28



Fig. 29

Photograph taken inside the ‘Pharmacy Ottoman’ [in proper French it would be Pharmacie Ottomane]

Arrow on left points to Hovhaness Dingilian; Melkon Lulejian, the ‘Chemist/druggist is in the center.

The glass door on the Cabinet bears the warning “Poison.” It uses the same wording “Poison” in Armenian script.

From a private collection.



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Fig. 30

Armenians working in field in the plain below the upper city.

This photograph derives from the K.S. Melikian materials now deposited in the Library of Congress.

So far as we know, the collection has not yet been made available online.

Like many such ‘deposits’ at the Library of Congress, it probably will not be made available without pressure from the [Armenian] community.

Funding the effort to expedite the process would not be remiss either!



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Fig. 31

Another view of the countryside below the upper city.  Note the general tidiness and the many coppiced trees.

This photograph derives from the K.S. Melikian materials now deposited in the Library of Congress.  So far as we know, the collection has not yet been made available online.

Like many such ‘deposits’ at the Library of Congress, it probably will not be made available without pressure from the [Armenian] community.

Funding the effort to expedite the process would not be remiss either!



Fig. 32

Sabit Bey, the Vali of Mamuret ul Aziz.  (Arrow points to him).  He was a Kurd who showed little refinement and had served in the Dersim region of the Vilayet.

This photograph derives from the K.S. Melikian materials now deposited in the Library of Congress.  So far as we know, the collection has not yet been made available online.

Like many such ‘deposits’ at the Library of Congress, it probably will not be made available without pressure from the [Armenian] community.

Funding the effort to expedite the process would not be remiss either!



Fig. 33

This and the following 6 figures (Figs. 34 to 39) display the Infamous Deportation Proclamation.

This is pg. 1 of the ‘cover letter’

From the U.S. National Archives



Fig. 34

Page 2 of the ‘cover letter’



Fig. 35

Page 3 of the ‘cover letter’ for the “Proclamation”



Fig. 36

Page 1 of the translation as made in Constantinople at  the American Embassy, probably by Lewis Heck.



Fig. 37

Page 2 of the translation.



Fig. 38

Page 3 of the Translation.



Fig. 39

Ottoman Turkish text from which the above translation of the “Proclamation” (Figs.36 to 38) was made.



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Fig. 40.

This photograph is in the Ruth Parmelee Papers at Hoover Institution.

It will be recognized as one of the photographs published in Susan K. Blair’s edited version of the Final Report of Consul Leslie A. Davis Report typed in Port Jefferson, Long Island early 1919.

It is the only photo relating to the ”Deportations” that have yet been found in Dr. Parmelee’s materials at Hoover Institution Archives.

The photograph was used by a number of early writers, e.g. Elsa Vind’s Armeniske burn: far Harpoot tile Libanon pg. 37 ( Kindlier missions abraders, Copenhagen, 1949), pg. 65 and Elise Brookland’s Hyster era store: KMA’s histories genes 50 are. pg. 37 ( Kvindelige missions arbejdere, Copenhagen, 1950).

We thank Matthias BjŅrnlund for this latter reference.



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Fig. 41

A rare photograph of an Erzeroum family on the way to “Deportation.”  The back of the photo includes a handwritten explanation that we have typed and presented in Fig. 42.

The photograph come from the Henry Morgenthau Sr. Photographic collection at Hyde Park.  Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York.



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Fig. 42

Caption for the photograph at Fig. 41.

Edward Case was from Long Island, incidentally.



Fig. 43

A work that has been described by Armenian Genocide scholar and former director of the Nubar Library in Paris, Raymond Kévorkian and others before him such as Nazareth Piranian as

“The Holocaust in Kharpert” [Kharperti Egherne], Baikar Press, Boston, 1937].

Note that the image on the title page is the photograph from the K.S. Melikian Collection at Fig. 16.



Fig. 44

Close-up of Fig. 43.



Fig. 45

Many will be familiar with this photograph.  Few will know that it shows Dr. Henry Atkinson among some of the deportees.  (White suit)

Our files and images permit us to identify Dr. Atkinson absolutely.  It remains for a later posting to deal with the identification definitively.

Like many of the missionaries, Dr. Atkinson was no spendthrift and used the same hat and summer suit for at least several years.

Note the ‘gendarmes’ (gendarmehns) guard wearing the fez.



Fig. 46

Note that this image has cut off what can be seen at the left side of Figure 44 above.



Fig 47

Yet another level of cropping to help viewers focus on the people.  Dr. Herbert Atkinson is in the white suit with his back facing the viewer.



Fig. 48

View of ‘deportees’ in Mezireh near the spring outside the cemetery walls. Note the level of exhaustion revealed.

Again, it remains for another posting to go into detail on this image. It was used in a brochure/booklet entitled “The Slaughterhouse Province: a United States Consul’s Report on Armenian Massacres” printed by the Armenian Church Prelacy (1987) in New York City to draw attention to the volume dealing with Leslie A. Davis’ Final Report edited by Susan K. Blair in a book entitled “The Slaughterhouse Province.”

There are very few copies of this very short (12 pg.) brochure around.  We were given access to one courtesy of the Prelacy.



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Fig. 49

Draft of the first page of a document written, typed and proofed by Dr. Parmelee describing her visit to the “Exile Camp in Mezereh.”

This document from the Hoover Archives ultimately made its way to Dr. Barton in Boston who then assembled the various accounts into a formal document.



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Fig. 50



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Fig. 51



Fig. 52

Photograph of the group of relief workers on the way to Harput in summer of 1919.  Dr. Parmelee on the far left. 

In the right foreground is Garabed Bedrossian, a former Cavass at the American Consulate in Mezereh.  He served the relief workers and was in the employ of the American Committee for Relief in the Near East.  

From a photograph in the collection of Mrs. Ellen MacDaniels Speers  She kindly supplied us with a copy. Mrs. Speers is the oldest child of the MacDaniels. 

Her parents were Frances C. MacDaniels and Laurence MacDaniels; they are the last two figures on the right, behind Garabed.



Fig. 53

Photograph of Harput city by the MacDaniels upon their arrival in 1919.

These ruins show the Armenian section.

From the MacDaniels collection at Oberlin College.




Fig. 54

Photograph of Harput city by the MacDaniels upon their arrival in 1919.  This is the Turkish section.

Note that unlike the Armenian areas, this section is intact.

From the MacDaniels collection at Oberlin College.



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Fig. 55

Volunteers at Harput in 1919. Dr. Parmelee will be apparent in the second row from the front standing.  She has a conspicuous white collar.  Her physician colleague, Dr. Mark H. Ward is seated cross-legged in the very front center.  We will refrain from identifying here the other volunteer relief workers; this will be done at a different time.

From the MacDaniels collection at Oberlin College Archives. An identical photograph is in the hands of the Speers family.





We are very grateful to all those who provided access to photographs or helped us obtain the photographic material included in the Appendix to this article.






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