This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Arshag Alboyadjian (June 14, 1879)

A self-taught scholar, with proficiency or reading knowledge in seven or eight languages, Arshag Alboyadjian was a prolific author of historical works, which today constitute a mine of information for scholars in various fields of Armenians Studies.
He was born on June 14, 1879, in the neighborhood of Scutari (Constantinople). He studied at the Berberian School and then at the Central (Getronagan) School. In 1895 he dropped out of school to start working in commerce. A year later he became the administrative director of the newly-founded Puzantion daily. His writing skills would lead him towards becoming a contributor not only of Puzantion, but of many other publications in Constantinople and abroad for more than sixty years.
In 1901 Alboyadjian published his first book, a biography of Armenian feminist writer Srpouhi Dussap (1842-1901). He taught part-time at different schools. He undertook the study of the history of Armenian communities, which would be one of his fields of interest until the end of his life. He earned the Izmirlian prize in 1905 for his work Armenians in Rumelia, which remained unpublished.
He married in 1909 and had a child. In 1910 was elected a representative in the Armenian National Assembly and the same year he became director of the Patriarchate archives. He was a member of the Armenian Constitutional Democratic Party (1908-1921) and then of the Armenian Democratic Liberal Party.
During the Armenian Genocide, Alboyadjian was a teacher at the Esayan Lyceum. In 1919 he published a biographical volume about Krikor Zohrab (1861-1915), the writer and Ottoman Parliament member killed during the genocide. From 1919-1922 he headed the Bureau of Information of the Patriarchate, which provided the powers with accurate information about the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire and the genocide in particular.
He abandoned Constantinople with his family in 1922 and settled in the Greek island of Corfu, where he taught at the Armenian orphanage for a year. He moved to Egypt at the end of 1923 and was a part-time teacher at the Kaloustian School. He was executive director of the Diocese of Cairo from 1924-1935 and published the weekly Azad Midk (1936-1937), the periodical Kraseri arachnorte (1938-1949), and the yearbook Giank yev kir (1948). He continued his contribution to the press with commentary and scholarly articles.
He founded his own print shop in 1941 to publish his own books and periodicals. In the same year, he lost his wife after long years of illness.
In 1955 he was elected deputy chairman to the Diocesan Assembly of Egypt and represented the diocese in the election of Catholicos in Holy Echmiadzin. He was invited to visit Armenia in 1959, where he was honored for his contributions to Armenian scholarship. Catholicos of All Armenians Vazken I decorated him with the St. Gregory of Illuminator medal and a special encyclical. Alboyadjian passed away at the age of eighty-three on June 24, 1962.
Of his twenty-two printed books, his three-volume History of Armenian Migration (1941, 1955, and 1961) became the first complete history of Armenian communities. The fourth volume, which would include the history of the communities formed after World War II, remained unpublished. Besides other important works, he published voluminous books about the history of Armenians in Caesarea, Tokat (Eudokia), Malatia, and Gudina (Keutahia).
Alboyadjian also left more than fifteen volumes unpublished. His extensive archives were transferred to Yerevan and are kept at the Matenadaran. Some of his works have been posthumously published.
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