|Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary|
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in one series by format.
Scope and Contents
This collection contains correspondence, committee minutes, reports sent to missionaries in the field, news clippings, photographs, and publicity materials. Correspondence, which comprises the bulk of the collection, shows the frequent sums of money being sent in small increments for relief work and acknowledgment of donations. Other details describe the experience of those in places such as Albania, Thrace, Bulgaria, and Turkey who were subject to severe disease; overcrowded hospitals from civilians and soldiers; official numbers of refugees; and the number of buildings destroyed. Telegrams asking for aid; information on other missionaries in the area; and information about Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, United States Ambassador in Constantinople, are also included. Other correspondence deals with people looking for information on the legitimacy of the Relief Committee and William W. Howard, who wrote many letters asking organizations for donations to the Committee. Howard's letters discuss his own findings when traveling across Albania.
Burke Library record group:
Missionary Research Library Archives: MRL2, Near/Middle East
Using the Collection
Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material in this collection may be protected by copyright and other rights. Information concerning copyright, fair use, and reproduction requests can be consulted at Columbia's Copyright Advisory Office.
Item description, MRL2: American Constantinople Relief Committee Records, 1912-1914, box #, folder #, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
MRL 12: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions records, 1878-1958, The Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia University in the City of New York.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Formerly part of the independent Missionary Research Library (MRL), these records were accessioned by the Burke Library at the time of the MRL's closure in 1976.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary
Correspondence and other records were cataloged by Lynn A. Grove on 1988-07-18. Materials were placed in new acid-free folders and boxes. Acidic items were separated from one another by interleaving with acid-free paper as needed. Any items in an advanced state of deterioration were placed in Mylar envelopes. The finding aid was created by Brigette Kamsler in 2011, reviewed and updated by Sarah Davis in 2014 with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, and edited by Leah Edelman in 2020.
2013-06-25 XML instance document created by Brigette C. Kamsler.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2020-07-03 EAD spot checked and corrected and description updated by Leah Edelman.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
The Committee for the Relief of the Wounded and Starving in Constantinople and the Balkan States held their inaugural meeting November 13, 1912. Reverend William I. Haven, secretary of the American Bible Society, gathered individuals from missionary and educational institutions interested in raising money for the people of Turkey in the aftermath of the Balkan War and the continuing effects of the Armenian Genocide. Honorable Oscar S. Strauss, former ambassador to Turkey, was chosen chairman with Reverend Henry Otis Dwight as vice-chairman. Over $20,000 was raised in two months from private individuals, which was then distributed by the American Red Cross Committee in Constantinople via Branch Treasurer, William Peet. The Relief Committee elected as secretary William Willard Howard in February 1913, who called upon churches in the United States for donations. Reportedly over 75,000 letters were sent, which raised an additional $22,000, approximately.
A complaint was raised against the American Constantinople Relief Committee in 1913 by the Post Office Inspector because of Howard; it was revealed he was being investigated as a fraudulent promoter. The Relief Committee, which also objected to Howard's fee of one-fourth the total funds raised, ceased collecting money for refugees until further information could be found. During that time Howard traveled to Albania in October 1913 to see the conditions for himself. The Relief Committee ceased existence by 1914 and fundraising efforts were taken over by other missionary societies, such as the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.