An allotment of Armenian books and cultural artifacts linked to the country's history and diaspora following the 1915 genocide will debut at UCLA in the first permanent research program of its kind at any major American university dedicated to Armenian archaeology and ethnography.
The collection was given to UCLA with a $2-million gift from Zaruhy Sara Chitjian to establish a research program that will serve as a major resource for scholars around the world on Armenia's cultural heritage, stakeholders announced this week.
Chitjian's gift will pave the way for more research projects related to Armenian history and anthropology and fund public lectures and graduate-student conferences.
"Studying the ethnographic artifacts of recent age is an important means of understanding the past of this still thriving culture," Chitjian said in a statement.
Named after Chitjian's parents, the Hampartzoum and Ovsanna Chitjian collection features letters and artifacts that will be housed at UCLA's Cotsen Institute under director Charles Stanish.
"Each acquisition not only provides insight into a small portion of this tragic but heroic drama, but also provides a window into dozens of new questions and areas of inquiry," Stanish said in a statement announcing the program.
Roughly 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks during the Armenian genocide from 1915 to 1923 — an event that destroyed cities and cultural artifacts.
Chitjian's father survived the Armenian genocide, eventually making his way to safety by walking through eastern Turkey.
"With the work at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, the Armenian identity and Armenian people — past and present — can be respected and appreciated for the contributions of their 3,000-year history," Chitjian said.