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Armenians in Providence, RI


Providence, RI

Early Days: There are vague, unsubstantiated, references to what may have been Armenians in Newport, Rhode Island (35 miles south east of Providence) as early as the mid to late 1600s. However, the first recorded Armenians to Providence dates to 1877 when three were working at "Locomotive Works" (Karentz 18). After this point, and all the way up to 1915, there are numerous recorded instances of Armenian sojourners throughout the Rhode Island area, including Providence, who came, worked, and returned back to their homeland. There are of course exceptions—those who stayed and started their own businesses. Krikor Krikorian was the first Armenian to open a rug business in Providence, in 1884, and a few Armenian grocers were also in business during this time. But, it is not until the 1915 Armenian Genocide, when survivors were after new homes and lives, that a substantial Armenian immigration wave to Rhode Island occurred.

The years following WWII the Armenian community of Rhode Island went through a spur of progression in terms of politics, culture, and solidarity. The Armenian Student Organization (ASA), a multi-branched student organization began in 1910, was busy organizing a multitude of balls, conventions, and other non-political based events to attract the young generation of Armenians. Additionally the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) and the Armenian Church Youth Organization of America (ACYOA) were recruiting members rapidly.

In 1975, after many years of discussion, planning, and hurdles, with cooperation from all 3 Armenian Churches in Providence, a monument in honor of the Martyr's of the Armenian Genocide of 1915 was erected in North Burial Ground. By 1977 the Rhode Island Armenian population had reached an estimated 7,061 (Karentz 233). In 1995 the city of Providence dedicated Armenian Heritage Park in honor of the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

Today: Similar to many other Armenian communities around the US, there are no definitive or official census numbers for the Armenian population in Providence. According to the latest, 2000 US Census, there are 4367 Armenians in all of Providence County, and 6677 in all of the state of Rhode Island. However another estimate puts the number of Armenians in Providence alone at 7182 in 2002 (Karentz 233).

± Show/hide references
Karentz, Varoujan. Mitchnapert: The Citadel. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse Inc, 2004.

US Bureau of the Census. QT-P13. Ancestory: 2000

US Bureau of the Census. Census 2000 Demographic Profile Highlights: Selected Population Group: Armenian (431-433): 2000

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