WATERTOWN, Mass.—Since 2017, a number of key individuals have taken a keen interest in digitizing the newspapers published by the Hairenik Association. Berge Panosyan (Documents to Digital) was the first to come forward and begin this monumental task as a personal passion project. At first, it was a few sample newspapers, but it quickly grew to much more.
The Armenian language Hairenik newspaper began publication in 1899. Over the years, it has been published as a daily and a weekly, and currently as the Hairenik Weekly. It is the oldest continuously published Armenian newspaper in the world, last year celebrating its 120th anniversary. In 1934, the Hairenik Association began publishing an English language weekly newspaper that continues to this day as the Armenian Weekly. In total, tens of thousands of issues have been published of these storied newspapers, serving as both witness and participant to the history of the Armenian people through the lens of our region.
Rupen Janbazian, at the time editor of the Armenian Weekly and now editor of h-pem, saw the importance of this work as well. Janbazian approached the late Viken Der Manuelian, who embraced the project and donated the initial $20,000 seed money to begin the venture in earnest. In late 2018, Janbazian, along with former director of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) and First Republic of Armenia Archives and former editor of the Armenian Review Tatul Sonentz-Papazian, donated all of the proceeds of the publication of their translation of Andranik Tzarukian’s Letter to Yerevan (Hairenik, 2018) to the digitization project.
The newspapers initially used for digitization were duplicate, unbound copies, which substantially helped the process and reduced costs. In addition, it allowed us to maintain our complete set of bound copies at the Hairenik offices. The care and professionalism with which Panosyan and the folks at Documents to Digital took in handling the crumbling, sometimes moldy newspapers, led to results that were nothing short of miraculous.
Although we have not yet completed the digitization of the entire archive, a significant number of issues have already been digitized, allowing us to make them available. Included are the first 21 years of publication as well as almost all issues published since 1938. Hundreds of gigabytes of data have been uploaded and indexed through the work of Hagop Ishkhanian of HI Systems, another believer in the importance of the project.
The digitization work is continuing and, in addition to filling the gaps in the newspapers, there are plans to digitize other publications of the Hairenik. For over a century, the Hairenik Association has served as an important publishing house. Many of the early publications are out of print and difficult to access for the general public. We at the Hairenik are committed to making them accessible.
The scanned newspapers are now available online. A subscription to the database requires a Gmail account (registration is required before purchase). The cost of the annual subscription is $35. If you would like your local library to subscribe so that you can view the archives there freely, the cost for an annual multiuser agreement is $500. The archives themselves are freely searchable and a snippet view of the results is supplied.