The inventory and digitization project for the Armenian press held in the Samuelian Oriental bookshop is ongoing. Launched officially early December with the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, around 600 issues from 61 different newspaper titles have been identified and indexed.
A clear trend is already discernible from this partial corpus: more than half of the newspapers were published in France (Paris and Marseille), in Italy (Roma, Turin and Venice) or in Lebanon (Antelias and Beirut), mostly before the 1950s, even so we are encountering, here and there for now, some issues published in the 1970s and 1980s. The extensive networks woven by Hrant Samuelian, the funder of the bookshop, all over the Middle East (Egypt, Turkey) and the relation with the French Dachnaktsoutioun are the pool for all these various press and printed resources in the collection.
Aside from the periodics and handwritten notes, the bulk of the corpus consists in daily or weekly newspapers. Comprised of few pages, in general 4 or 5 twofold folios, they are a testimony to the intellectual and political conversation within the Diaspora. Thinking outside the box and out of the more familiar publications, we have selected two lesser-known journals for this month post.
The first one is the weekly Armenian journal Zeppelin or Զէբլին, published in Cairo (Galal street) between 1919 and 1971. Satirical and political issue in Western Armenian, edited and published by the Msrlean, it followed the current events in the Armenia Diaspora.
Numerous issues of this title have already been digitized in the past and are available in the databases of the National Library of Armenia. Although with more of 50 years of existence, gaps remain in the databases. We discovered three unearthed issues that will soon be completing these collections, once digitized and OCRized by our team.
The second one is the monthly title Հայաստանի ձայն (The Voice of Armenia), a cultural and political newspaper in Armenian, published in Paris between 1922 and 1923 by Dr Nevrouz. Like numerous Armenian periodicals published in France, it was created in the early 1920s, in the wake of the influx of Armenian refugees from the genocide, and the resettlement of numerous literate and scholars in the Armenian community in Paris. Although its publication was quite short lived, with 49 issues it had a fairly important distribution.
This newspaper was already almost fully available online on the site of the National Library of Armenia, at the sole exception of the no40, from the 21st April 1923. This specific missing issue has been retrieved at the Samuelian bookshop last week, and our team has it under study. The document itself shows some signs of wear that limit the handling or may hinder the text recognition. Our DataScience team is confering on how to extract the maximum information without damaging the document any further.
The material comprised in these newspapers is various and precious: they inform us on the political history of the Diaspora and the topics covered, on the use of the Armenian language through the literary production, or on the everyday life of the community with various gathering places and stores favored by the Armenians, notably through adverts. These many layers of information to extract requires a strengthening work for our technology: detection of advertisements, identification of the topic of an article, adresses as well as text recognition.
For more on the Armenian press in France and the existing digital collections: cliquez ici, by Tigran Zargaryan (FSL, Armenia).