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Near East Relief Photo Album, 1919-1920

Laurence Howland MacDaniels and Frances Cochran MacDaniels (both graduates of the class of 1912 of Oberlin College) volunteered for service in the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE), later called Near East Foundation (NEF). This foundation provided relief in the Near East after World War I. The reader can consult online sources on the foundation. Select photographs from a photograph album documenting their service in the ACRNE, 1919-20, can be accessed by clicking on the title of the collection, above.

The MacDaniels were among those who left New York City on Sunday, 16 February 1919 for Brest, France on the SS Leviathan. At the French port the party re-embarked on a British transport to Constantinople. The MacDaniels returned from their mission on 14 July 1920 to New York.

Before the MacDaniels arrived in Harpoot in eastern Turkey – their final destination – the ACRNE administration asked them to remain in Stamboul [Istanbul?] and Derindje [Derince] for several weeks to organize the relief activity. In Derindje, Laurence H. MacDaniels served as Commissioner of Public Works. During this period he directed projects, which involved the improvement of living conditions for the NEF workers, the construction of a road and planning of agricultural work for the farmers in the vicinity of Derindje. On 25 May 1919, the MacDaniels departed for Harpoot where they remained until the beginning of April 1920.

Harpoot and Mezireh figured heavily in the daily lives of the MacDaniels as they carried out their duties connected with relief work in the region. They were part of a unit that ran orphanages in Harpoot, Malatya and Arapkir, gave aid to children who lived with relatives, arranged soup kitchens and living quarters for refugees in Malatya. The NEF set up and ran tailor shops, shoe shops and employed locals. Laurence H. MacDaniels travelled around the country to collect wheat and wood for their orphanages. They raised livestock and set up vegetable gardens at the orphanages where the orphans worked. The ACRNE group focused its efforts on housing and clothing as well as educating and training the orphans.

The photograph album provides a glimpse of the work of these two Oberlin graduates, Laurence H. and Frances C. MacDaniels in Asia Minor just after the end of World War I. The photo album labelled “American Committee for Relief in the Near East 1919-1923, Turkey-Egypt-Greece, later called Near East Foundation” (see image number 1), is contained in the Laurence H. and Frances C. MacDaniels Papers. http://www.oberlin.edu/archive/holdings/finding/RG30/SG276/index.html

Special consideration has been given to photographs that might give perspective on what conditions were like in Asia Minor, especially Harpoot, after World War I. Thus, many but not all the photos depicting or relating to NEF workers and their charges (especially orphans), the general conditions encountered, the level of relief needed and even some of the logistics followed to provide it have been selected. Pictures portraying what used to be commonly referred to as the “Grand Tour” (Greece, Egypt), which the MacDaniels made as part of their return trip, were not included.

The photographs capture and preserve this for history. For the most part the commentary consists of excerpts taken from the letters of Frances C. MacDaniels. Even so, where it seems appropriate, excerpts are taken from published works of fellow volunteers, who left New York on the Leviathan.  The dates derive from the letters, of course, but days of the week when missing (most of them) have been inserted after use of an online Day of the Week calculator (http://www.travelfurther.net/dates/datesrus.asp).  Where possible, the first names of the people in question, when missing, are inserted in brackets.  The main source for these names has been James L. Barton’s Story of the Near East Relief (1915-1930), an Interpretation, The Macmillan Co., NY, 1930, appendix entitled “Overseas Personnel”. No attempt has been made to verify or expand further the names since it would constitute a major effort to do so.  Finally, present-day standardized names and spelling of places have been inserted in brackets after the original as it appeared in a particular letter or other sources. Although it tends to interrupt the flow, it enables use of a global gazetteer such as in the event one wishes to establish precise locations.
All research, selection of photographs and scanning was done by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor. Without their efforts this online collection would not have been possible.

The digital images (a total of 89) are numbered in order to provide a chronological narrative of the MacDaniels’ relief work. To view the images in their designated order, please click on the field “Image Number”, which will automatically sort them accordingly.

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