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Book Review: 全isters of Mercy and Survival: Armenian Nurses


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#1 onjig

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 04:12 PM

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
Antelias, 2012

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.

scan-205x300.jpgThe 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.

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.

 

Read more:https://armenianweek...rses-1900-1930/


Edited by onjig, 17 September 2019 - 04:16 PM.


#2 onjig

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 04:12 PM

She elaborates on the system of hospitals, clinics, and training schools Western missionaries built in the provinces and their role in advancing medicine within the empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hospitals flourished in Aintab (the Azariah Smith hospital), in Mezireh (ATR), in Van, Marsovan, Sepastia, and Marash.

One of the results of the spread of missionary hospitals was the need for nurses. Armenian women were widely recruited and trained in general medicine and especially in midwifery according to the most advanced Western practices and methodologies. She concludes that the missionary medical workers together with Armenian medical professionals planted the roots of a modern healthcare system in the Ottoman Empire.

In a cruel twist of fate, these very health facilities and medical personnel were forced to serve the Turkish war machine during World War I and, later, the survivors of the ensuing genocide.

Amid war, the American charitable initiative Near East Relief (NER) emerged to provide emergency food, shelter and medical services to thousands of Armenian orphans and refugees. Armenian nurses once again were destined to play a critical role in NER hospitals and orphanages in Sivas, Aintab, Aleppo, and Kharpert. Digging in the NER archives, Kaprielian-Churchill elaborates on the types of medical services offered and the many cases treated in these hospitals

The huge concentration of survivors of the Armenian Genocide, coupled with the influx of what remained of the Armenian population in Turkey as a result of Kemalist nationalist purges of 1920-24, rendered the new nation of Armenia virtually destitute. Kaprielian-Churchill recounts the tremendous amount of NER relief resources that went towards containing the epidemics and sheltering the orphans in Armenia. Perhaps NER’s most instrumental role was evacuating an estimated 22,000 Armenian orphans from Turkey between 1920 and 1923.

 

https://armenianweek...rses-1900-1930/

 

 

Review by: Karin Saghdejian
 
Karin Saghdejian is the editor of TorontoHye Newspaper.KSaghdejian.jpg

Edited by onjig, 17 September 2019 - 04:16 PM.

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