USC Libraries Celebrate Major New Book Collection on Armenian Genocide

New Acquisitions

An October 22, 2023, event at USC’s Doheny Memorial Library celebrated a major new addition to the USC Libraries’ holdings on Holocaust and genocide studies.

Comprising approximately 3,800 books in Armenian, Turkish, French, German, and English, the Vahakn Dadrian Armenian Genocide Book Collection will serve students, faculty, and others researching the campaign of mass murder and deportation the Ottoman Empire waged against its Armenian subjects during World War I. 

“The collection will expand our university’s considerable resources for understanding both the Armenian genocide and global Armenian diaspora experiences,” said Dean Melissa Just of the USC Libraries. “Supporting these areas of inquiry is an enduring priority for our libraries and our university.” 

The collection was donated to the USC Libraries by the Ararat-Eskijian Museum and Research Center. The research materials were originally acquired by scholar Vahakn Dadrian (1926-2019) over the course of his extensive studies of the Armenian genocide. Marguerite Mangassarian Goschin, the Ararat-Eskijian Museum’s director, worked with Dadrian before his death to find a home for his papers and personal library.

The museum’s chairman, Martin Eskijian, hailed the collection as “a major step forward in the actual documentation of the Armenian genocide of 1915.” 

At the USC Libraries, it joins several unique collections that sustain scholarship on genocide and mass violence, including the 30,000 primary and secondary sources that constitute the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Collection; the Feuchwanger Memorial Library, which contains the private papers and personal library of the Jewish-German author Lion Feuchtwanger; and the Armenian Genocide Insurance Settlement Papers, whose forty boxes document a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of families of victims of the Armenian genocide. 

Collections such as these attracts scholars from around the world to the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research, whose founding director, Wolf Gruner, described the university as “fertile ground” for research into the Armenian genocide.

“For me as a scholar, this is the best situation I could ever imagine—to provide scholars with the materials and also the time and the space to do these kinds of studies,” Gruner said in his remarks.

“In my assessment,” he added, “USC is now the place where you will study the Armenian genocide. There are not many places in the world where you can do it. It’s the place to go now.” 

Shushan Karapetian, director of the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, applauded the acquisition.

“This collection and the activities and scholarship it will undoubtedly generate will help our collective efforts to highlight and deepen Armenian studies on campus,” Karapetian said. “The addition of this collection amplifies and complements that effort both symbolically and instrumentally by marking USC as an invaluable home to multi-disciplinary scholarship in Armenian studies.”

Other speakers included Mane Berikyan, vice president of the USC Armenian Students’ Association; filmmaker Carla Garapedian; and historian Taner Akçam, inaugural director of the Armenian Genocide Research Program at UCLA. Armenian Film Foundation chairman and USC alumnus Jerry Papazian em-ceed the event, which was co-sponsored by the USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research, the Armenian Film Foundation, the National Association for Armenian Sutdies and Reseach, the Organization of Istanbul Armenians, the USC Institute of Armenian Studies, and the USC Armenian Students’ Association.

Processing of the collection is ongoing, but the majority of the English-language books have now been catalogued and are available for use in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies room in Doheny Memorial Library. A collection-level finding aid is available for archival materials from the related Vahakn Dadrian Papers, acquired in 2019, and a selection of historic photographs and documents from that collection is accessible via the USC Digital Library.