• Description

This report intends to expand our knowledge as well as to contribute to the existent historiography on the Near East Relief (NER), an American humanitarian organization, which has been understudied. We wish to pinpoint three main aspects of the NER's early history. The first being tension between one of the main ideological assumptions of the organization -- i.e., to carry out rehabilitation programs that went beyond short-term emergency relief -- and the absolute necessity to undertake vast relief operations. The NER's Caucasus Branch operation illustrates this tension. Second, the 1919-1920 relief operation in the Caucasus sheds light on why it was necessary for the NER to cooperate with other American organizations, such as the American Relief Administration (ARA) and the American Red Cross (ARC). We will provide details about this complex relationship later in the report. Finally, this research report provides an opportunity to reflect on the ideology(ies) and working methods of NER workers. Contrary to what one might think, the NER was far from being a monolithic organization. The Board of Trustees, the executives, and the men (and women) on the spot had different views on the NER's objectives as well as on how they 2 should be achieved. In 2009, Sarah Miglio wrote a Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) research report entitled "America's Sacred Duty: Near East Relief and the Armenian Crisis, 1915-1930." It was based on some of the sources referred to in our RAC research report. Miglio focused on America's "Sacred Duty" in the Near East and more specifically, on the Armenians during and after the genocide. Our objective is to offer a closer look at the operational work carried out by the NER. Miglio focused on the significance of the Armenian crisis for the American public, whereas our objective is to look into more pragmatic aspects of the programs of the NER for Armenians and other civilian populations.