Research Your Armenian Roots—What You Need to Know (Part IV)

This article is part of a continuing series documenting the available records for research into one’s Armenian family roots. Part I in the series supplied a historical background on the Armenian genealogy movement as well as specific records available for Syria. In Part 2, records from Lebanon and Israel were detailed. Part 3 covered the records of Greece and Jordan.

Southeast Asia – Bangladesh, Burma, India, Indonesia, Singapore

The Armenian communities of Southeast Asia trace their origins to international trade routes. Merchant families have played an important role in these communities for centuries. Many unique aspects of this community make the paths to researching it quite varied.

For one, the Armenian communities of Southeast Asia were intimately tied to the British Empire and its world-wide business interests. As such, British colonial records offer an important source for information. Luckily, Liz Chater runs a useful blog devoted to the Armenians of India and beyond. I cannot say enough about the wonderful work she has done.

Chater suggests starting with the website for Families in British India Society (FIBIS). You can search their database for free and access additional services for a fee. You can find a number of Armenian related names. The British Library contains some of the Armenian baptism, marriage and burial records from India. Digitized images of the records can be accessed findmypast. A fee will be charged after a 14-day free trial.

There are other general resources available via websites and Chater has documented these as well as useful suggestions on her website. One can also contact the individual churches at the following addresses compiled by Chater.

Also, as stated in previous articles in this series, the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Family History Library contains a wealth of information related to Armenian church records. FamilySearch.org is in the midst of a long-term project to digitize their collection of records. The result will eventually be that instead of ordering microfilm, researchers will be able to view the records on-line at a local Family History Center or at the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Some records are also available without restriction now through FamilySearch.org.

The following details the time periods for which individual church records are available through the LDS Family History Library:

  • St. Haroutiun (Bangladesh) – 1831- 1981
  • St. Hovhannes Garabed (Burma) – 1857-1981
  • St. Bedros (Bombay, India) – 1917-1978
  • Holy Church of Nazareth (Calcutta, India) – 1793-1982
  • Armenian Apostolic Church (Madras, India) – 1829-1908
  • Armenian Apostolic Church (Tangra, India) – 1793-1979
  • St. Hovhannes (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 1836-1964
  • St. Kevork (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 1927-1976
  • St. Krikor Lusavorich (Singapore) – 1827-1976

Unfortunately, the images of many of these early records are very difficult to read. In addition, the naming conventions can seem odd to those unfamiliar with this type of work. Nonetheless, they are an excellent primary source.

Marriage of Sarkies Arathoon and Regie Carapet dated July 9, 1901 (Document: LDS Family History Library, courtesy George Aghjayan)

Previously, I have not mentioned the role memorial books (“houshamadyan”) for different locales can play in genealogy. Houshamadyan.org has a wonderful bibliography of the memorial books compiled by Mihran Minassian.

1830’s baptisms, St. Haroutiun Church of Dacca, Bangladesh (Document: LDS Family History Library, courtesy George Aghjayan)

Many of these books contain detailed information and biographies of natives of the specific village, town or district. They supply a wealth of information, not only on specific people, but also on general Armenian village life. In the case of India, there are some wonderfully detailed sources, specifically Mesrovb Jacob Seth’s massive tome “Armenians in India.”

 

Saint Mary’s Armenian Church, Chennai
60 Armenian Street
Chennai
India
Saint John the Baptist Armenian Church, Chinsurah
4/4 Armanitola
Chinsurah
Hooghly
West Bengal
India
Holy Resurrection Armenian Church Dhaka
4 Armenian Street
Armanitola
Dhaka
Bangladesh
The Armenian Chapel, Delhi
Armenian Cemetery Rama Park
Kishan Gunj
Delhi,6
Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth, Kolkata
2 Armenian Street
Kolkata 700001
West Bengal
India
Saint Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church, Kolkata
41B North Range,
Kolkata 700071
West Bengal
India
Saint Peter’s Armenian Church, Mumbai
Ararat Building
89 Nagindas Master Road
Fort
Mumbai 400023
India
Saint Mary’s Armenian Church, Saidabad
Girbijapara, P.O. Khagra
Saidabad
Murshidabad
West Bengal
India
Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator Singapore
60 Hill Street
Singapore 179366
Holy Trinity Armenian Church, Tangra
2 South Tangra Road
Kolkata 700046
West Bengal
India
Yangon Armenian Church
66 Bo Aung Kyaw Street
Yangon 11182
Myanmar

Serbia

The Armenian communities in what is now the Republic of Serbia date to at least the 17th century. A surviving parish register covering Belgrade and Petrovaradin was located in the Armenian Catholic Mekhitarist Monastery of Vienna, Austria (manuscript #1338). The register of sacraments begins in 1732 and continues to 1931 in some cases. Given the importance of the Mekhitarist order and its extensive libraries in both Vienna and Venice, it is hoped more gems like this are found and made available. Microfilmed in 1981, the LDS Family History Library also contains the records of the former Yugoslavia.

One of the other interesting sources from the archives of the Mekhitarist order is a student roster from the Mourad-Raphael College of Venice. It begins with students who graduated in 1841 and continues into the 1890’s. While the form includes space for the names of the mother and father of the student, it is rarely filled in. However, the birthplace and years enrolled in the college are typically shown. The great majority of students were from Constantinople [Istanbul], but also occasionally from the Black Sea region and even less frequently elsewhere.

Sample from marriage register, Belgrade (Document: LDS Family History Library, courtesy George Aghjayan)
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George Aghjayan

George Aghjayan is the Director of the Armenian Historical Archives and the chair of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Central Committee of the Eastern United States. Aghjayan graduated with honors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Mathematics. He achieved Fellowship in the Society of Actuaries in 1996. After a career in both insurance and structured finance, Aghjayan retired in 2014 to concentrate on Armenian related research and projects. His primary area of focus is the demographics and geography of western Armenia as well as a keen interest in the hidden Armenians living there today. Other topics he has written and lectured on include Armenian genealogy and genocide denial. He is a board member of the National Association of Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), a frequent contributor to the Armenian Weekly and Houshamadyan.org, and the creator and curator westernarmenia.weebly.com, a website dedicated to the preservation of Armenian culture in Western Armenia.

5 Comments

  1. My Grandfather George william Harrison married Ellan Harriet Gregory in 1897 in Dhurrumtolla his 2nd marriage was to her sister Ophelia Gregory 1907 His brother Charles Gilbert Harrison married Ann marie Gregory from the same family in 1898 i would like to no mire about this family as i was told that they are Armenians

    • 3 daughters of Matthias Gregory were married to 2 brothers, the sons of Thomas George Harrison. This may be of some interest to me, as my first cousins are Gregory, and it is possible I may have a Gregory ancestor as well.

  2. Mesrovb J Seth, was first cousin to my great great grandmother Mary Manuk. And his brother Dr Seth Seth married her sister Annie Manuk. The book is full of our family history.

  3. Am trying to help my cousin find a little more of her mother’s background. I believe Katerina Minassion was born in Armenia. She became the 2nd ‘wife’ & life partner of Nigel Gordon Dunbar circa late 1930s-1940 in Calcutta. They were not officially married but had issue. The family went to UK in 1946/47. Am after information about Katerina’s earlier life & back ground in India, her parents & when she got there. Where would I start?

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