On March 17, Dr. Hayk Demoyan, participated in the conference dedicated to the 400 Years of Armenian-American heritage in Ararat House in Los Angeles. The title of the Dr. Demoyan’s speech was: “Return or Stay? Armenian Emigration to America and Repatriation in the Late 19th to Early 20th Centuries.”
The major flow of Armenian emigration to the United States from both Western and Eastern Armenia started in the second half of the 19th century. Primarily, these individuals were medical or theological students. Until the late 19th century, there were few cases of these immigrants seeking a permanent settlement in the U.S. Armenian men, who were the first sojourners arriving in the United States as working migrants, usually had their families behind and their primary goal was to accumulate funds before returning to their homeland and rejoining their families. Armenian-American publications and local memorabilia from this time contain instructions on how one should behave in the U.S. and keep loved ones “back home” foremost in their minds. The Hamidian massacres of 1894-1896 triggered a fresh wave of Armenian migration from the Ottoman Empire and forced many of those already in the U.S. to face a very personal dilemma: stay in the new land and cut off family connections back home or attempt, by all means possible, to bring family members to the U.S.
Should be noted, that the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute (AGMI) together with Ararat-Eskijian Museum (AEM), National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Project SAVE Armenia photograph Archives and Armenian Studies program at California State University Northridge were one of the organizers of the conference. The conference was dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first Armenian to America “Martin the Armenian” (Virginia 1618).
During the conference a temporary thematic exhibition was opened. Through the historical artifacts from Hayk Demoyan's personal collection and the Ararat-Eskijian Museum, the Armenian-American rich heritage was presented.