• 1916

    One Million Survivors

    Ambassador Morgenthau estimated that one million Armenian refugees had survived the Genocide. The survivors were mainly women and children left destitute by the deportations. By the end of 1916, the Committee was assisting as many as 500,000 women and children. Hundreds of people in Constantinople were dying of starvation, having nothing to eat but grass.

  • 1915 - 1918


    The deportations of Armenian Christians left the once-thriving mission stations in Armenian communities empty. Missionaries use Committee funds to convert existing mission buildings into relief centers and orphanages. The relief stations quickly fill with children – many of them the sons and daughters of former students.

  • The children that were gathered from the roadside or left upon the doorstep formed the first nucleus of the future orphanages of Armenian and Greek children.

    - James L. Barton, The Story of Near East Relief
  • 1915 - 1922

    An Unofficial Diplomat

    Annie T. Allen was born to pioneering missionaries in Harput, Turkey, in 1868. After graduating from Mount Holyoke College in 1890, she began her own mission work in Brousa, Turkey, in 1903. Her fluency in several languages allowed her to establish a connection with the refugees she served, and to communicate with local political leaders.

    In 1921, Miss Allen transferred from Brousa to Konia, a refugee center and orphanage in the war-torn Turkish interior. She traveled the surrounding areas and drafted reports on the dire living conditions she witnessed. Miss Allen also visited Near East Relief stations to document the organization’s accomplishments and challenges.

    During the bitter winter of 1922, Miss Allen set out for Harput on horseback to investigate the conditions among Armenian and Greek deportees as they were being forced to march through the interior. When she was injured in a fall from a carriage during her travels, her doctors discovered she was also seriously ill with typhus. Annie T. Allen died in Sivas on February 2, 1922, and was buried with full Turkish military honors.

  • 1917

    Refugee Hospitals

    American medical professionals had worked in Asia Minor for years. Dr. Ruth Parmelee worked at the American hospital at Harput. She would become a Near East Relief volunteer through the American Women’s Hospitals organization. Similar hospitals staffed by American and Armenian doctors and nurses existed throughout the Anatolian Peninsula.

  • Near East Relief (known at the time as The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief) boasts 38 local committees in 16 states by June 1916.

  • October 21-22, 1916

    “Remember the Starving Armenians”

    President Wilson declares these “joint days for Americans to make contributions for the Armenians and Syrians.” Churches, synagogues, and service organizations like the Rotary and Lions clubs raise donations. Parents tell children to “remember the starving Armenians” and not to waste food at mealtimes.

  • Receipts in reality are considerably in excess of $10,000 per day. This does not include any of the large checks which we know to be coming.

    Treasurer Charles R. Crane, October 1916
  • April 16, 1917

    The U.S. declares war on Germany and enters World War I on the side of the Allied Powers. The Ottoman Empire breaks diplomatic ties with U.S. Diplomatic representatives return to the U.S. but many American missionaries remain at their posts. The U.S. never formally declares war against the Ottoman Empire.

  • Winter 1919

    Assessing Need: The Caucasus Mission

    A special Commission made up of civilian volunteers and U.S. military officers sails to the Near East to assess the refugee situation. The Commissioners conclude that 50,000 – 60,000 children are currently in care, and that Near East Relief should be ready to care for 120,000 children by the end of 1920.

  • February 1919

    4,000 Tons of Supplies

    Near East Relief launches the steamship Pensacola for Beirut, Syria (now Lebanon) carrying 4,000 tons of food and supplies. On February 19, 1919, 250 Near East Relief volunteers sail from Hoboken, NJ on the S.S. Leviathan. The party includes doctors, nurses, and other technical specialists.

  • August 1919

    Having grown beyond the resources of a small volunteer committee, Near East Relief is chartered as a charitable corporation by an Act of Congress.

  • Though World War I ended in 1919, refugees and orphans still faced a daily struggle for food, clothing, and shelter. Religious-based persecution continued throughout Asia Minor. Near East Relief redoubled its efforts in America by making use of mass media, including a new technology: the motion picture.

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