Photos of Armenia: 1917-1919

Elder Collection

Photographed by John Elder

Read John Elder's Biography View the Photographic Collection

The pictures taken by John Elder between 1917 and 1919 constitute a rare photo documentation of the conditions in Armenia during some of the most trying years in the history of the Armenian people.

John Elder was a witness of the Ottoman invasion of Armenia in 1918 and experienced the trials of the Armenian people during the month of May when the struggle for survival reached its critical moment. His photographs capture the conditions of the Armenian population, especially those of the refugees to whose care he committed his energies. Elder traveled throughout Armenia and took photographs in all major points of refugee concentration and where relief work was being conducted. His images of the destitute and of the orphans are specially compelling. Captured unobtrusively, they testify to John Elder's sincerity as a humanitarian.

The photographs posted on the web site are identified by John Elder's captions. The names of the towns in Armenia photographed by Elder have changed:

  • Erivan = Yerevan, the capital of Armenia
  • Alexandropol = Gyumri, formerly Leninakan in the Soviet era
  • Etchmiadzin = Echmiadsin, the seat of the Armenian Catholicosate
  • Nor Bayazid (also spelled Novobiadzitch on one photo) = Gavar, formerly Kamo in the Soviet era, on Lake Sevan
  • Igdir = presently in eastern Turkey, occupied in 1920 and no longer inhabited by Armenians.

Click on a thumbnail to view a full-size photograph from the Elder collection.
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Government feeding station -- Erivan Feeding station -- Nor Bayazid Erivan station
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A refugee orphan -- Erivan, 1918 Armenian orphans Erivan orphanage
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Rug factory in Erivan Refugee Refugee
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Refugee Refugees foraging at Alexandropol Kurdish refugees at Alexandropol
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Refugees Igdir road -- refugees Refugees on Igdir road
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Refugee graveyard in Igdir Graveyard at Igdir Dr. Maine. Graveyard at Igdir
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Farewell parade, English garden,
Erivan, August 1919
Erivan, August 12, 1919.
Farewell parade
Orphan drill. Goodbye
entertainment at Erivan
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Farewell parade --
Aug. 1919, Erivan
Novobiadzitch -- Reception for
NER [Near East Relief] Workers
  Skeleton on Etchmiadzin road  

© Armenian National Institute, Inc. Elder Photo Collection.

(Search the National Archives to find additional images relating to the Armenian Genocide.)