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Rare Armenian history volumes make their way to Watertown

A precious piece of Armenian history has landed in Watertown. A rare first edition of an 18th-century landmark work that survived eras of turbulence and destruction, and was preserved lovingly by a prominent Armenian family, is now in the collection at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), the Watertown Wicked Local reports. 

“History of the Armenians,” or “Patmutyun Hayots”, by Father Mikayel Chamchian, was published in Venice from 1784 to 1786, and was described by scholar Razmik Panossian as “the definitive Armenian history text in this formative period of mass national identity.”

The three-volume work was preserved by the Simsarian family of Worcester for more than a century, said Marc Mamigonian, the NAASR director of academic affairs.

“How these volumes survived for over 230 years including the time of turbulence, destruction and massacres in the late Ottoman Empire and made it to the United States is a testament to the reverence and prescience of the Simsarian family for preserving Armenian history for generations to come,” he said in a press release. “We are truly honored to received Chamchian’s “History” and for NAASR to be the last stop on this book’s very long journey.”

“They are beautiful books, quite large,” Mamigonian said. “They make a big impression and enhance our holdings.”

The books were passed to Simsarian by his father Dicran Simsarian, born in Dikranagerd/Diarbekir in 1890. At the age of six, Dicran saw his father hide the books to save them.


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