During the time I’ve spent trawling the archives for information about Armenians in Manchester, one organisation has appeared time and time again in my research. The Armenian Ladies Association was evidently an integral part of life for Armenians living in Manchester during the early 1900s, and I’ve finally been able to take a look at their constitution from that period.
I think the first three points sum up what I have read so far about the ALA. Mrs Shahbenderian spoke about the support it provided for Armenians arriving in Manchester, and the Armenian community as a whole were unwavering in their support for their fellow countrymen abroad, especially during the horrors of the Armenian Genocide. The church connection too is unsurprising – it was a central part of life for Armenians living in Manchester during the early 1900s. I’m in no doubt that these resourceful ladies kept the church bright and welcoming, and fulfilled every pledge made in their constitution.
In hope of finding out more, I also sought out a booklet charting the history of the organisation between 1908 and 1928.
Whereas the constitution had been translated into English, this historical account only exists in Armenian.
Inside there was some kind of introduction or preface followed by what seemed to be a detailed description of the organisation’s history.
The booklet also contained photographs of the ALA members, both individually and as a group. There are several versions of this standard group shot in the Documentary Photographic Archive at the Greater Manchester County Record Office, donated by the Shahbenderian and Yegwartian families respectively.
The portrait at the top reminds me of Mrs Funduklian, who I know was involved with the ALA. I wonder if it is her? I made a crude attempt to translate some of the names using various online sources, and this is definitely a possibility. There are many more such portraits in the booklet – the women all look so interesting. I’d like to know more about them. Alas the majority of material that has survived concerns Armenian men, and the businesses they ran. Although this is fascinating, I am keen to know more about the lives of Armenian women as well.
I also wish that I could understand Armenian. If there is anyone reading this who might be able to translate some of the material shown above, please do get in touch.