An Armenian language weekly Gotchnag literally means Church Bell, founded in 1900 in Boston by Reverend Herbert Allen. Gotchnag was sponsored by the American Missionary Association and the Armenian Protestant Church in America and represented the Protestant Armenian community. The foundation of the Armenian weekly by the American missionary was not accidental. Rev. Herbert Allen was fluent in Armenian and was closely acquainted with Armenian cultural heritage and traditions. He was born in March 1865 at Harput, where his parents labored as missionaries for fifty years. Growing up in an Armenian environment, Mr. Herbert came to America for getting an education; he graduated from Williams College in 1888 and Bangor Seminary in 1893. Returning to his hometown, he held a teaching position, first in Harput, then in Van until 1898 when he came back to America due to family conditions. Here, Rev. Herbert Allen was appointed by the Home Missionary Society as superintendent of the Armenian community, and within the framework of this work, he established Gotchnag. In 1903 he was again called back to Turkey, this time as director of the Adabazar High School, and in 1907 he was invited to take over the Avedaber editorial office in Constantinople. Rev. Herbert Allen died at his home in Shishli on the morning of January 25th, 1911.
Rev. Herbert Allen was the first editor of Gotchnag. Further, V. Kyurkchian, H. Sandikian, Khachatur Penneian, Hovannes Avakian, A. Petikian, H. Khazoian, and Vahe Hayk, were among the newspaper’s editors. In 1909 the publication of Gotchnag moved to New York. In 1919, the weekly was renamed Gotchnag Hayastani (The Bell of Armenia), then in 1921, Hayastani Gotchnag (Armenia’s Bell). It started being published once a month as a magazine in 1960 until suspending publication in 1968.
The periodical collection Gotchnag, which found a place in Rose Library, engages 41 incomplete volumes beginning in 1908 and ending in 1956. The first issue of Gotchnag was published on 15 December 1900 and has undergone significant changes in the following decades. Not only has the newspaper’s publication address changed over the years, but so have the editors, workers, and members of the governing body. It gradually evolved into a wholly Armenian publication with Armenian funding. Despite the modifications, it was the principles of the newspaper “to remain progressive, independent and impartial, to preach the truth, defend justice and enlighten public opinion.” Covering national, international, and social issues, the newspaper aimed to instill patriotism and love for religion.
For this purpose, Gotchnag touched upon all aspects of Armenian life, as well as contributed to the preservation of the Armenian identity and the strengthening of Diaspora-Homeland ties. Besides editorial and correspondence sections, the newspaper had particular columns exploring religious and family issues. Gotchnag developed the idea of the family as the core of society and illustrated its socio-economic and socio-political role. Furthermore, Gotchnag regularly published materials on the latest scientific news, works of art, and literature, as well as on Armenian national holidays and traditions, thus educating and promoting Armenian identity among young people in the Diaspora.
In addition to its epistemological role, Gotchnag from the beginning of its early days reported on the political events of the time referring mainly to the situation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and covering the Armenian Question in detail. The newspaper constantly published articles about the Armenian persecution, the arrest of intellectuals, the massacres, and the situation of Armenian refugees in the Caucasus and elsewhere during the First World War. Further, in its publications, the Gotchnag warmly welcomed the birth of the Republic of Armenia viewing it as an anchor of the Armenian nation. During the Great Patriotic War, he stood behind the Soviet people without hesitation and spoke from anti-fascist positions, covering the joint struggle against Hitler’s Germany.
Being a religious newspaper Gotchnag not only emphasized the evangelical Protestant ideology but also referred to the Armenian national and political life both in the U.S.A and abroad though it did not have any political affiliation. The main goal of the newspaper was to be national and serve the Armenian people. The ideology of Gotchnag was concluded in three points - to endow the Armenian individual with morally sound principles, to strengthen the Armenian Diaspora with national consciousness, and to be dedicated to the reconstruction of Armenia with unconditional sacrifice.
Scope and Content
This collection is the Gocthag (Armenian Cochnak) periodicals bound from around 1908 through 1956 (incomplete – 41 volumes).
Gocthag (Armenian Cochnak) Periodical Collection – Courtesy of The Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts.