Book Review: ‘Sisters of Mercy and Survival: Armenian Nurses, 1900-1930’
Sisters of Mercy and Survival: Armenian Nurses, 1900-1930
By Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill
“Richard and Tina Carolan” Literary Fund
Reviewed by Karin Saghdejian
A 1921 photograph of Armenian nurses at Annie Tracy Riggs (ATR) Memorial Hospital in Mezireh (present-day Elazig, Turkey) and a childhood memory of an April 24 commemoration in Hamilton, Ontario, compelled historian Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill to write her latest book Sisters of Mercy and Survival: Armenian Nurses, 1900-1930.
Published in 2012 in Antelias, Lebanon, the book focuses on the role of Armenian nurses in Western-run medical institutions in the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East before and after World War I.
The book is also a detailed research of the formation and operation of the American hospital networks and nurse training schools in the various provinces of the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. It’s a rare study that aims to shine light on the dedicated work of the Armenian pioneer nurse generation, the unsung heroes of a nation who toiled tirelessly in these medical facilities at times of great catastrophe.
Using documents in 5 languages from more than 15 archives in North America, Europe, Armenia, and the Middle East, Kaprielian-Chuchill sets the historical framework in which the Western medical institutions were established, and gives details of their operations together with the relief efforts of the Armenian charitable organizations.
Kaprielian-Churchill dates Armenian medical practice back to medieval times with Mkhitar Heratsi, and through the 18th and 19th centuries when Western-educated Armenian doctors were the sultan’s personal physicians and brought the newest practices to the Ottoman Empire. Well before the missionaries started their clinics, Armenians built hospitals and recruited Armenian women to serve as nurses, a remarkable progress compared to the Turkish women who started Western-style training only in late 1920’s.
Edited by onjig, 17 September 2019 - 04:16 PM.