The ARC has an established community of supporters and benefactors, who regularly contribute to the Center by occasional donations. These contributions have helped and continue helping the ARC develop, implement and expand its mission beyond serving as a repository of all things Armenian. Among other benefactors, the following individuals and institutions have made significant contributions to the ARC over many years.
The ARC’s initial endowment was established thanks to four significant contributions from the following benefactors:
The Knights of Vartan
The Knights of Vartan were the impetus behind the creation of the Armenian Research Center (ARC). Founding Director Dennis Papazian was an active member of the organization.
The Knights of Vartan is an Armenian fraternal service organization active in North America, established in Philadelphia in 1916. Its founders included Apostolic and Protestant Armenian clergymen, academics, and laymen. The Knights of Vartan encouraged its members to assume leadership roles in cultural, educational, religious, and charitable organizations and conduct activities on the local, national and international level for the betterment of the Armenians worldwide. Today the Knights and Daughters of Vartan have numerous chapters across the United States and Canada.
The ARC was created with an initial start-up donation from the members of the Knights of Vartan Nareg Lodge, No. 32, Detroit, and a further grant from the Knights of Vartan Grand Lodge in 1985, under the leadership of then Grand Commander Kachadoor Kazarian. Since then, the Knights and Daughters of Vartan, their individual lodges and members continue to offer regular support to the ARC.
Edward and Helen Mardigian
The donation by Edward and Helen Madigan in 1987 helped make the ARC a reality, providing half of the initial endowment. This generous gift came as part of a larger donation to the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Part of that donation went to the University’s library which was renamed Edward and Helen Madigan library in their honor.
Edward Mardigian (1909-1993) was a long-time resident of metropolitan Detroit, Michigan. Born in Istanbul (Turkey), he immigrated to the United States in 1914 with his family, settling first in Toledo, OH, and then moving to Detroit in 1929. After working as an engineer at the Briggs Manufacturing Company for many years, he launched the Mardigian Corporation after WWII and continued to grow as a successful businessman, and later on as a management consultant.
Mardgian was also active in the local Armenian community. He was elected the President of the Detroit Chapter of AGBU in 1928, where he met his future wife Helen Alexander. He also served as president of the Armenian Apostolic Society in Detroit, having an important role in the construction of St. John Armenian Apostolic Church in Southfield, Michigan. Mardigian was also a founding member of the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) in 1955, a founding trustee of the Armenian Assembly of America in Washington D.C. in 1975, and served as President of the AGBU Central Committee of America from 1970 to 1985, among other important roles. In 1967 he established the Mardigian Foundation, which continues to actively support various religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, sports and other causes. Mardigian and his foundation have made a number of substantial donations to Armenian organizations worldwide, including schools, museums, youth organizations, the Armenian Church and its seminaries.
The Mardigian Foundation and members of the Mardigian family continue to regularly support the ARC to this day.
Suren D. Fesjian
Suren D. Fesjian was widely known for his generous benefactions, both in the United States and abroad. He supported various Armenian causes including educational institutions, the press, cultural organizations, the Armenian church and various charities.
Born in Adapazarı (Turkey), he moved to France with his family at an early age. He fought for the French Resistance during WWII and later organized the Armenian National Front of Resistance against the Fascist Powers. In 1949, the Fesjian family immigrated to the United States, where Suren founded the Mondial International Corporation in 1952. The Mondial gradually grew into an international conglomerate with many offices in major cities of the world.
Suren Fesjian was an active member of the Knights of Vartan, and served as the Commander of the Etchmiadzin Lodge in New York. As a loyal Knight, he answered to the call of then Grand Commander Kegham Tcholakian with a significant contribution in 1993 toward the ARC’s endowment fund.
Dr. Aram Janigian
Dr. Aram Janigian was born in 1937, in Melvindale, Michigan. He moved to Detroit as a boy. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Detroit, and his medical degree from the Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery in Iowa.
He remained in family practice in Madison Heights, Southfield, and Garden City, Michigan for 35 years, retiring in 1999.
Dr. Janigian was active in the AGBU Intermediate Chapter, the Men's Society of St. John Armenian Apostolic Church in Southfield, MI, and the Knights of Vartan.
He served at different times as President of the Westside Detroit Lions Club, Deputy District Governor of the Lions, and Vice President of the Council of Lions Clubs of Metropolitan Detroit. He was named a Melvin Jones Fellow by the Lions Club International in 1995. He was also involved with the Detroit Institute of Arts.
The ARC was always close to Dr. Janigian’s heart. His generous donation is still the largest single posthumous legacy the ARC has received.
Other Important Benefactors
John Vigen Der Manuelian
John Vigen Der Manuelian was an influential Boston-area educator and community activist in the Armenian community. His father, Manuel Der Manuelian, an immigrant from Chmshkatsag (Çemişgezek in Turkish), was the semi-official consul of the first Republic of Armenia to the United States in 1918-1920, based in New England. The core of the ARC's initial book collection came from Der Manuelian.
Alex Manoogian and the Alex Manoogian Foundation
Over many years, the ARC received large and small gifts and donations from Alex Manoogian and the Alex Manoogian Foundation.
The ARC continues to accomplish its mission and goals thanks to the generous donations received over the years from various organizations and individuals since its foundation. The ongoing large and small donations by Armenian-American organizations and community members have helped the ARC expand its scope and reach out even beyond the state of Michigan and the United States.