Records of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, Near East Relief, 1917-1928

Most of the items in this series relate to the agency Near East Relief (NER) and its efforts to provide humanitarian aid in Anatolia and surrounding regions during and after the First World War.

Hand Book for Near East Relief, October 1920Near East Relief (NER) traces its origins to 1915, when it was established by prominent members of the U.S. business and political community, as an emergency measure, under the name American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief (ACASR), to provide aid for Armenian, Syrian, Greek, and other minority populations of the Ottoman Empire displaced in the conflict of World War I. Cleveland Dodge, a wealthy industrialist, philanthropist, and friend of President Woodrow Wilson, was one of ACASR’s principal founders, and the corresponding secretary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), James L. Barton, served as its chairman. The agency’s nationwide efforts in the United States raised millions of dollars, which were transmitted via the U.S. ambassador and a committee of American citizens in Constantinople to personnel, primarily ABCFM missionaries, residing in various areas of the Ottoman Empire, who conducted relief work locally throughout the war. After the armistice, on 30 October 1918, the organization, newly renamed as the American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE), began to send workers and supplies directly from overseas into the region.

ACRNE was incorporated by a special act of the U.S. Congress in August 1919, as the Near East Relief, and for roughly the next decade, supported by a vigorous funding drive in the United States, NER dispensed food, clothing, and other material items to refugees, cared for orphans, provided medical treatment, and offered vocational training in Anatolia and its surroundings. ABCFM missionaries were heavily involved in these activities, both as administrators and field workers, and ABCFM properties in these areas were often used to house NER facilities. The records of the Amerikan Bord Heyeti clearly reflect the intersection and blending of efforts by NER and the ABCFM. In 1930, Near East Relief changed its name to the Near East Foundation (NEF), when it altered its aims from providing postwar assistance to carrying out ongoing development work in the Middle East.

The material in this series consists mainly of administrative records, account records, correspondence, and some published material related to Near East Relief and its predecessors, which was held at the offices of the American Bord Heyeti. It includes correspondence, generated or received by the ABH treasurer and his assistants, between the Board headquarters in Istanbul and NER offices in Athens, Beirut, Paris, and New York, as well as individual NER officers and departments, such as general secretary Charles Vickrey; assistant director Carl C. Compton; acting director J.W. Crutcher; auditor S. Chamberlin; medical director Albert W. Dewey; acting controller H.C. Jaquith; treasurer William R. McGowan; the Individual Remittances Department; Personal Services Department; Mailing Department; and the Transportation and Supply Department.

SALT Research: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions / Near East Relief

Licensing and Citation

Items in the archival collection are licensed under a Creative Commons license, and non-commercial use is permitted under the terms of this license. Attribute items with the following citation note: Records of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, affiliates, and successor organizations. Turkey and the Balkans, 1825-1999. American Research Institute in Turkey, United Church of Christ, SALT Research.

For permission to use items for commercial purposes, please correspond with This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .