Mapping a Bold Vision for Armenian Collections, Research, and Teaching

The UCLA Library has steadily built he largest university-based collection of Armenian materials in North America – only the Library of Congress’s collection is bigger. Materials in the Library’s repository range from the 582-page masterpiece of 14th century illumination, the Gladzor Gospels (1300–07), to letters and records, periodicals and maps, film and television holdings, sound recordings and oral histories through the 20th century.

“What distinguishes UCLA’s collection is that in addition to the incomparable Gladzor Gospels, our collection holds diaries, postcards, photographs, news clippings and other ephemera that reveal a fuller picture of Armenian life,” said Jennifer Osorio, director of Library Special Collections.

The university has been at the forefront of Armenian studies in the U.S. since at least 1969, when the oldest endowed chair at UCLA was established in this area. More recently, in 2019, The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA was established to serve as an interdisciplinary hub for Armenian studies and culture.

Given this powerful equation—the Library’s world-class collections plus the university’s commitment to advancing Armenian studies—a cross-disciplinary group of Library staff, including Osorio, recently mapped a new initiative aimed at expanding discovery and digitization of these rich cultural heritage materials. Among the Library’s top priorities: endowing a dedicated Armenian specialist who will curate research and teaching services aimed at accelerating the work of students, faculty and other researchers, while also building collections for future generations.

The Library has already made significant progress opening access to and preserving Armenian history. In October 2020, the Library played
a pivotal advocacy role in the Library of Congress’ correction of its research subject heading from “Armenian massacres” to “Armenian genocide.”

Chela Metzger, head of preservation and conservation, who has conducted book conservation trainings at the National Library of Armenia, plans major conservation and restoration work on the Gladzor Gospels, in collaboration with Armenian conservators.

And the UCLA Film & Television Archive has restored eight films by influential Armenian-American film director Rouben Mamoulian, and recently screened a double-feature at the Billy Wilder Theater, in partnership with the Armenian Film Foundation.

For more information about supporting Armenian collections at UCLA Library, please contact Stephanie Kimura at (310) 206-8551.