Armenian News Network / Groong

Poster Soliciting Funds to Support Armenians using Armenian survivors of the genocide as Illustrative Models


Armenian News Network / Groong
April 25, 2021

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

Long Island, NY

Our last posting emphasized that a non-Armenian was used as a ‘model’ in W.T. Benda’s “Give or We Perish” poster. Many would argue that it would seem appropriate that occasionally at least, a ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ or those authenticated as Armenians be featured in the artwork of Posters seeking donations mainly on behalf of Armenian victims.

The example of the Keghi Mother and her children is a good example. The W.T. Benda “Give or We Perish” poster, although artistically elegant, might seem more than a bit detached from reality to many of us who know quite a few details about what went on during the Genocide. We would argue that one might, in fact, be more accurately connected with reality if indeed one is trying to get the point across that if one does not “Give” “We [“certainly”] Perish.”

The look in the young woman’s eyes is certainly one expressing real fear, even terror, rather than one of impending death if help is not forthcoming. (See Fig. 1).

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Fig. 1.

Close-up of the young woman in the W.T. Benda poster making the plea “Give or We Perish.”

Some might argue that the expressive eyes are paramount in the plea.



Yet another of the significant fund-raising period posters in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs collection is captioned “Lest They Perish” …” See Fig. 2. for an attractively framed copy in our personal collection.

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Fig. 2.


This poster was produced using an actual photograph (or two) by a Paterson, New Jersey graphic artist and magazine and book illustrator William Berdan King (1880-1927). (One of the best obituaries including a photograph of him is in the Paterson Press Guardian, Sept. 6, 1927 pg. 1 col. 2.) King usually simply signed his work W.B. King and that has apparently been the basis of more than a little confusion when more recent attempts have been hurriedly or carelessly made to identify him as the artist. He has even been very incorrectly identified by someone who ought to know better, as William Gunning King, the British artist who did so far as we can learn no graphic or illustrative work. In any case, William B[erdan]. King is responsible for this fine piece of work put out by the American Committee for Relief in the Near East.

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Fig. 3.

Details offered by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs catalog for this poster follow.


      Title: Lest they perish Campaign for $30,000,000 - American Committee for Relief in the Near East--Armenia-Greece-Syria-Persia / / W.B. King; Conwell Graphic Companies, N.Y.

      Creator(s): King, W. B., artist

      Date Created/Published: [1917-1919]

      Medium: 1 print : color lithograph ; sheet 47 x 32 cm (poster format)

      Summary: Poster showing a woman carrying a baby on her back among destroyed buildings.

      Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-ppmsca-50553 (digital file from original print) LC-USZC4-10121 (color film copy transparency)

      Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. For information see "World War I Posters"(

      Call Number: POS - US .K548, no. 2 (B size) [P&P]

      Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


o   Title from item.

o   One Madison Ave., New York, Cleveland H. Dodge, Treasurer.

o   Exhibited: "Echoes of the Great War : American Experiences of WW I" in the Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Nov. 2017 - June 2018.


o   Near East Relief (Organization)--1910-1920.

o   World War, 1914-1918--Economic & industrial aspects--United States.

o   World War, 1914-1918--Women.

o   War relief--1910-1920.


o   Lithographs--Color--1910-1920.

o   War posters--American--1910-1920.


o   Posters: World War I Posters

o   Posters: Artist Posters


The significant feature of this poster (Fig.3) for us is that we can show that W.B. King used a photograph of an Armenian woman and her baby as the basis of his poster.

The image on the poster has ended up being described in many places and many contexts, but we venture to say, not one of them quite hits the exact mark. No matter. This is yet another example of an image transitioning from rather specific to an image or portrayal with deserved generic status.

The reason we mentioned that King might have used a photograph or two as the source of the central theme for his poster follows. One picture, correct in its full aspect and profile (Fig. 4a) was published as a ‘cutout’ (Fig 4b), which appeared in the March 1921 issue of the New Near East, (vol. 6, no, 6 pg.5).



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Fig. 4a.


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Fig. 4b.

Sad Armenian mother.” Reproduced from New Near East, March 1921 vol. 6, no. 6 pg. 5.)

Any observer will agree that it is a very faithful prototype for the woman and her baby in the poster.



The full caption adds another dimension to the image, and an important one at that. “This sad Armenian mother, her baby the progeny of an enemy race, is depending on us, as are others.”  We are not, of course, absolutely certain that the baby was fathered by a Muslim. Until recently not that much has been written or discussed about the violation of Armenian women during the period of the genocide, or about any ‘mixed’ progeny that might have ensued. We included several frames that can be seen approximately 16 minutes into our YouTube video entitled History of the Armenian Orphan Rug at the White House 1925 posted by Taylor and Krikorian on YouTube December 21, 2014. See

An early Glass lantern slide production used by Near East Relief may be found below (Fig. 5). It is numbered but not dated. We do not know of or have a key that gives any greater detail.


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Fig. 5.

It was the late Karekin Dickran from Aarhus, Denmark, originally from Beirut, who sent us a photograph years ago of a glass lantern slide. It is not among those slides selected for inclusion in the Armenian/Danish of Maria Jacobsen’s Diary (published by Antelias, at the Catholicosate, 1979, Oragrutiun Kharberd.) The slide photo clearly derives from a photograph of the model that W.B. King more than likely used. It was at that time being used by the Near East Relief as part of its publicity series. Unfortunately, the glass lantern slide is undated although it is captioned and numbered. (We have as yet been unable to find a key to the many glass slides that were generated and distributed by the Near East Relief in its fund-raising activities, but we admit that we have not made a major effort. A point worth keeping in mind is that the American Committee for Relief in the Near East was the issuing agency for our W.B. King poster. The Near East Relief (NER), which was the successor organization of the ACRNE, issued the New Near East magazine. It would seem that the photograph(s) was considerably earlier than 1921.


The matter of mixed ethnicity children as a result of rape is complicated and a very incompletely studied subject so we will not go into details. The photo below is the only one that we are aware of that approaches the subject in a concrete way.



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Fig. 6.

A still photograph of nurse Miss Florence Stively and some of her charges. Mrs. Frances C. MacDaniels, who served the ACRNE in Harput with her husband, has included comments on the back of the photograph. Her daughter, who lives in Austin, Texas, pulled the photograph for her own family archives before donating the bulk of her parents’ materials from that period in Turkey to their Alma mater, Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio.

The next group of photographs from the Library of Congress collection provides the very basis of this paper. It clearly shows that the Mother and child of the King poster were ‘models’ for the poster. The photograph is in the Red Cross Collection and has helped considerably in enabling us to resolve at least a few aspects of the W.B. King Poster. The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs catalog link for Fig. 7a below is:


A group of people posing for a photo

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Fig. 7a.

Photo of a group of people at a camp outside Jerusalem.

The group is identified as comprised of Armenians and Syrians awaiting “disinfection.”






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Fig. 7b.


Another more completely commented on caption for the photograph.


The full entry reads:

Title: Armenian & Syrian refugees waiting at Red Cross camp outside Jerusalem to be "disinfected."

      Date Created/Published: [between 1917 and 1919]

      Medium: 1 negative : glass ; 5 x 7 in.

      Reproduction Number: LC-DIG-anrc-04368 (digital file from original)

      Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication. For information, see "American National Red Cross photograph collection,"(

      Call Number: LC-A6195- 7247 [P&P]

      Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA


o   Title and notes from Red Cross caption card.

o   Photographer name or source of original from caption card or negative sleeve: H.E. 50875.

o   Group title: Palestine.

o   Date based on date of negatives in same range.

o   Gift; American National Red Cross 1944 and 1952.

o   General information about the American National Red Cross photograph collection is available at

o   Temp note: Batch 10


o   American Red Cross.

o   Palestine--Jerusalem.


o   Glass negatives.

      Part of: American National Red Cross photograph collection (Library of Congress)

Figs. 8 and 9 show a close-up of the Mother and child in the photo.



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Fig. 8.



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Fig. 9.


It is significant that the date of the image given by the Library of Congress was established using dates of various negatives in the same photo range. We believe that it fits in well with what we know. We would feel confident if we placed early 1919 as the very latest date. By that time, we would suggest that the mother has already been reduced to a ‘generic’ symbolic figure for motherhood that anyone can identify with. It pulls at the heart.






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Fig. 10.


Scan of a commemorative stamp issued on the 100th Anniversary of the Onset of the Armenian Genocide. This stamp was officially released 6 May 2015. It was designed by Juan Pablo Gechidjian, Vahagn Mkrtchyan, Hayk Demoyan, and was printed in Castor, France by offset. The original is 26 X 40 millimeters. The Imperial barracks in Alexandropol (today Gyumri), used as a huge orphanage for Armenian orphans after the Genocide is shown in the background. The “America we thank you” is comprised of the actual orphans organized into letters in English for a stunning group photograph by Near East Relief for Publicity.


We are pleased to have been able to expand our knowledge on the King poster.


We add this knowledge on the King poster to the existing store of research on hitherto poorly known posters. For example, one of particular interest involves an Armenian lad. That paper is entitled “A Rare Poster of an Armenian Boy Used in Fund Raising for the Near East Relief” by A.D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor, September 15, 2017 See Groong at



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