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Interpreting the Evidence

Photograph of Dr. John H. Finley of the Armenian Relief Effort with Armenian Children

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Era:

    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:

    New York State
    United States

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Photograph of Dr. John H. Finley of the Armenian Relief Effort with Armenian children, 1918 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Interviews with members of the Armenian community in Niagara Falls can be found here.

Document Description
Photograph of Dr. John H. Finley, a member of the Armenian Relief effort, posing with a large group of Armenian children in 1918. Finley was the New York State Commissioner of Education, and head of the Red Cross relief effort in Palestine.

Historical Context
Former New York State Commissioner of Education John Finley became the Commissioner of the Red Cross in Palestine. He traveled twice to the war-torn parts of Turkey and the Near East in 1918 and 1919 to view for himself relief efforts.
The American Red Cross and the International Red Cross were among the first organizations to recognize the vast humanitarian crisis emerging in Turkey. Later the American government responded by forming the Near East Relief organization and the American Committee on Armenian Atrocities. Relying on private donations, these committees joined the Red Cross and missionaries, doctors, and teachers already in parts of Armenia, Syria, the Caucuses, and Palestine to bring aid to hundreds of thousands of deportees, refugees, and orphans.
Near East relief organized hospitals, schools, and orphanages all across the region. Among the important priorities were reclaiming females from Turk families that either adopted or enslaved them, training the people for future self-reliance, and relocation administrations to help find permanent communities in the area and abroad. All told, these groups and efforts of individuals are credited with saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Armenian orphans.

Essential Question
How are children affected by war?

Check for Understanding
Describe the conditions of these individuals using evidence from the photograph.

Historical Challenges
Write a biography of Dr. Finely in which you describe his role in the region.

Interdisciplinary Connections
ELA: Write a journal from someone participating in relief efforts in Armenia.