On April 7, the Hairenik Association organized a discussion with historian and former Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau member Dr. Yervart Pamboukian from Lebanon. The event, held at the Homenetmen “Papken Suny” center in Watertown (MA, USA), was attended by scholars, intellectuals, and representatives from Armenian organizations and associations from the Greater Boston area and beyond.
Pamboukian has edited and published five volumes in Armenian on the ARF archives, and was in Watertown in March and April to conduct research for his sixth and seventh volumes.
Tatul Sonentz-Papazian, the former editor of the Armenian Review and former director of the ARF and First Republic of Armenia archives, currently directs the publications department of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS). Sonentz-Papazian introduced the speaker, saying that for decades Pamboukian has served his nation as a teacher, historian, and party activist.
Pamboukian began his talk by saying that as a historian, he feels a great sense of satisfaction when he delves into the ARF archives, because they make “you relive everything that had to do with our national struggle.”
Pamboukian said the ARF archives are immense and that records have been kept from the founding days of the party. Although not as organized as they could have been in the late 1800’s, the archives were gradually enriched and organized over the decades. “Most of the material found in the archives comes from Tsarist Russia and the Ottoman Empire,” he said, explaining that it includes thousands upon thousands of letters and reports, sometimes written in secret codes or by invisible ink.
Before World War I, the archives were kept in Geneva and then Paris. After the war, they were moved to Boston, where they are still kept “in perfect condition,” he said.
“Not only do these archives contain party-related issues, but also a wealth of information about the recent history of the Armenians, statistical and demographic data, etc.,” said Pamboukian. “I can say that no Armenian archives of any Armenian organization are as rich as the ARF archives. In fact, we sometimes have more material about other Armenian organizations than those organizations themselves.”
Talking about the digitization process of the ARF archives, which began recently, Pamboukian announced that the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation had provided $50,000 for that purpose.
A question-and-answer session and a reception followed.