ARLINGTON, Mass. — “One of the greatest characteristics of the Armenian people is always to look up, not down.” This trademark guided Hagop Bogigian throughout his life. Born in the middle of the nineteenth century in the village of Hussenig, in the province of Kharpert, in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), lands part of historic Armenia, Hagop Bogigian was one of six children of Arakel and Yegsa Bogigian. Barely 20 years old, Bogigian arrived in the United States penniless in 1876. In a short while, he established a flourishing oriental rug business in Boston, which brought him financial success as well as contact with Boston’s literary and social elite, prominent among them Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Greenleaf Whittier, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Oliver Wendell Holmes and others.
On Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m., the Armenian Cultural Foundation (ACF) will honor the legacy of Hagop Bogigian on the occasion of the release of Hagop Bogigian: Armenian American Pioneer and Philanthropist, written by Dr. Martin Deranian.
Called “the first Armenian-American millionaire” upon retirement, Bogigian embarked on his true passions: correction of injustices, advancing the rights of American labor, and various philanthropic causes. Loyal to his roots, he raised American sympathies to the Armenian Question in Ottoman Turkey, where over a million Armenians were annihilated and deported from their millennia-old homeland in the late nineteenth century and during World War I.
Bogigian also earmarked funds to help educational institutions, establishing full scholarships for worthy young Armenian women at Wilson College in Pennsylvania; Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts; and Pomona College in California. With the motto to “try to leave the world a little better place than found,” Bogigian lived a remarkable life, providing a model for generations to remember their roots and serve mankind.
Hagop Bogigian: Armenian American Pioneer and Philanthropist is the labor of Dr. Hagop Martin Deranian, grandnephew of Bogigian (his maternal uncle) in whose honor he is named. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1922, his parents were Genocide survivors from Hussenig. His mother, who died in 1929, lost six children, her first husband, and parents in the Genocide. His father, Marderos, who died in 1957, arrived in America in 1900 and operated a grocery store in Worcester. His father raised him from the age of 7.
Deranian is a graduate of Clark University and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. A veteran of the United States Navy (1951-1953), he has been engaged in the private practice of dentistry while at the same time serving on the faculty of the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. The author of several books and articles, his translation of his father’s memoir, Hussenig, The Origin, History and Destruction of an Armenian Town, was published in 1996; a bilingual edition appeared in 1981. His second book, Worcester Is America, the Story of Worcester’s Armenians, appeared in 1995 followed by Miracle Man of the Western Front: Dr. Varaztad H. Kazanjian, Pioneer Plastic Surgeon, which was published in 2007. His latest book was President Calvin Coolidge and the Armenian Orphan Rug, published by the Armenian Cultural Foundation (2013, 2014) was dedicated to the memory of over 1400 Armenian orphan girls in the American Near East Relief orphanage in Ghazir, Lebanon.