Libraries’ Curator to Discuss Columbia’s Armenian Oral History Collection at Drew University Forum


NEW YORK, March 31, 2005 - Varoujan Froundjian, curator of Armenian Oral History at Columbia University Libraries, will make a presentation on Columbia’s Armenian Oral History collection during a panel discussion on April 7, 2005 at Drew University’s Learning Center.

The “Witness to genocide: Armenian Oral History 90 Years Later” forum marks the 90th anniversary of the 1915 genocide of 1.5 million Christian Armenians in Anatolia. It will review the value and current status of oral histories and other materials documenting this “first genocide of the 20th century” that presaged the horrors of World War II and beyond.

During the panel discussion Froundjian will present the general themes running through the collection, and the adopted methods used to present them on an academic level. “In the United States the excitement about oral history and the execution of Armenian oral history projects got into a full swing during the 1960’s and 1970’s, when the urgency of losing contact with survivors became alarming,” explained Froundjian. “Independently, or on behalf of organizations, individuals spoke with survivors in their households, or at old-age home facilities, and recorded their discussions. These historians, professionals and enthusiasts conducted hundreds of interviews.”

Collections of Armenian oral history archives are held at a number of cultural centers and educational institutions across the United States. One of these collections, initially envisaged by the late Dr. Vazken Parsegian and his team of interviewers, was donated to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Columbia University. Under the guidance of Columbia University’s Oral History Research Office and International Area Studies, the collection will be catalogued and indexed according to professional standards and made publicly available.

The Columbia University Oral History Research Office is the oldest and largest organized university-based oral history program open to the public in the world. Founded in 1948 by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Allan Nevins, the oral history collection now contains nearly 8,000 taped memoirs, and nearly 1,000,000 pages of transcript. The program is also a center for teaching and research, offering opportunities for students, visiting scholars and fellows.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library owns over 500,000 rare books in some 20 book collections and almost 28 million manuscripts in nearly 3,000 separate manuscript collections. It is particularly strong in English and American literature and history, classical authors, children's literature, education, mathematics and astronomy, economics and banking, photography, the history of printing, New York City politics, librarianship, and the performing arts. Individual collections are as eclectic as they are extensive. For additional information about the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, please call 212-854-5153.

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/ is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

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03/31/05 JD