President Emeritus Armenian Writes on Epidemics and Mortality in the Parish Records of Churches

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On September 23, the American University of Armenia (AUA) Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS) hosted a presentation of the newly published Epidemics and Mortality in the Parish Records of Diasporan Armenian Churches (1732-1982) book, authored by AUA President Emeritus Dr. Haroutune Armenian.

For centuries, data on births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths of people of Armenian origin have been maintained in Armenian church parish records, serving as a rich source of demographic data and providing ample opportunity to study the patterns of development of Armenian society in the context of various historical and environmental events.

The book is composed of the author’s foreword and introduction, followed by a summary of his findings from epidemiological investigations of data drawn from church parish records of the population of Armenian communities in 11 countries. Dr. Armenian’s book covers a period of over 250 years and makes a number of remarkable discoveries. More detailed findings are presented in four publications authored by Dr. Armenian: The Epidemiology of infant deaths in Armenian parish records of LebanonPatterns of infant mortality from Armenian parish records. A study from 10 countries of Diaspora, 1737-1982Patterns of Mortality in Armenian parish records from 11 countries, and Widowhood and mortality in Armenian church parish in Lebanon.

“Deciphering the unique history reflected in the yellowed pages of carefully preserved parish books is not particularly difficult for a skilled researcher,” says Dr. Anahit Demirchyan, the translator and editor of the book, adding, “This history, more than any other science, provides an opportunity to observe the historical and environmental influences from the perspective of their effect on people and their destiny, thereby understanding history and human destiny in a new way.”

The book brings together different spheres, including epidemiology and public health, religion and history, showing the large potential of the interdisciplinary method of historical epidemiology, in line with AUA’s vision of horizontal collaboration between disciplines for finding transformational solutions to global challenges.

Various prominent representatives of different fields attended the event. The speakers included CHS Dean Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan, CHS senior researcher Dr. Anahit Demirchyan, a leader of the Mekhitarist Congregation of Vienna Father Poghos Kodjanian, Director of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of History Dr. Ashot Melkonyan, Chair of the University of California, Los Angeles Center of Modern Armenian History Dr. Sebouh Aslanian, as well as the head of the laboratory of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences Institute of Molecular Biology Dr. Levon Yepiskoposyan.

The AUA Turpanjian College of Health Sciences works actively to improve population health and health services in Armenia and the region through interdisciplinary education and development of health professionals to be leaders in public health, nursing, health services research, and evaluation, health care delivery, and management.