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Interpreting the Evidence

Adana, Armenia in 1909

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Comprehension

  • Grade Level:

    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:

    Global History and Geography
    World War I

  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:


  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Adana, Armenia, 1909 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
Panorama of the City after the Destruction of Houses in the Massacre of Armenians by the Turks at Adana, April 14-15 and April 25, 1909.

Historical Context
The city of Adana was the center of the last traditional Armenian state in the Ottoman Empire, Cilicia Armenia. Irrigated by three rivers, the area was fertile with grains that were exported. Early in the 20th century, there were roughly 40,000 citizens living in Adana of which half were Armenian. Most of the people of the entire region were poor farmers although there was a small population of wealthy Christian merchants.
By early spring 1909, ethnic tensions in Adana were on the rise as the “Young Turk” revolution swept through the Ottoman Empire and counter-revolutionary political groups espoused their own brands of nationalism.
Coinciding with violence in Constantinople, killings, looting, and burning began in Adana as Turkish citizens attacked Armenians in the Christian quarter of the city. Some two thousand Armenians were killed in the first forty-eight hours as local authorities, plagued by corruption, did nothing to halt the violence. On April 25th a Regiment of regular Turkish troops of the “Young Turk” government arrived in Adana. Instead of defending the property and possessions of those being attacked, the soldiers aided the attackers. By the end of the spree, nearly one-half of the city was destroyed and one hundred thousand Armenians were driven from their homes and property or killed.

Essential Question
Why are civilian populations targets for military operations during times of war?

Check for Understanding
Write a paragraph describing the destruction of Adana, Armenia using evidence from the photograph.

Historical Challenges
Describe the causes and effects of the mass killings in the southwestern part of Turkey.

Interdisciplinary Connections
ELA: Write an eyewitness account from the perspective of someone in Turkey in 1915.