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Collection 539 Papers of Joy and Dicran Kassouny

Identifier: CN 539

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other material relating to the ministry of Joy and Dicran Kassounys. Topics referenced in the materials are Joy Arousiag's escape from a massacre of Armenians as a child; her education in the United States, particularly Wheaton College; her work as a trainer of teachers in Lebanon, his work as a pastor and a leader of Christian Endeavour campaigns in Syria and Lebanon; the Kassouny's courtship and early married years; and the Armenian church in the Middle East.


  • Created: 1928-1979

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: Arousiag Joy (Stephanian) Kassouny Note: Arousiag chose "Joy" as her American name when she came to the United States for her higher education in 1925.

Birth Date: Exact date unknown (May 1, 1908 chosen by Arousiag) in Broussa, Turkey


Parents: Unknown - died during forced evacuation from their home in 1916

Siblings: Sisters - contact lost during forced evacuation

Marital Status: married Dicran Y. Kassouny in 1939

Children: None


1920-1922 Girls' School in Marash, Turkey

1922-1925 American School for Girls in Scutari, Turkey.

1925-1928 Friends Select School, Philadelphia, PA

1928-1933 Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. Graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree

ca. 1935 University of Pennsylvania, MA of Education

1935 Special student at Philadelphia College of the Bible


1935-1936 In Beirut with Bible lands Gospel Mission (1 year) Note: She returned to the United States in 1936 to become a naturalized citizen of that country.

1938 - 1948 Teacher and later principal at the Teachers' Training Institute in Beirut

Date and Place of Death: August 15, 1977; Tarrytown, New York

Other Significant Information: Parents were killed by soldiers in the Turkish army and she was separated from her sisters in Der-Zor in 1916 during a massacre of Armenians by the Turks. She lived with Bedouins until 1918, when she went to an orphanage in Aleppo, Syria. There she met Rev. Stephen Trowbridge, who wrote several stories about her experiences for the American publication, The Sunday School Times. She was transferred to the orphanage in Marash and then went on for three years of education at the American Girls' School in Scutari, Turkey.

Full Name: Dicran Y. Kassouny

Birth Date: December 25, 1910 in Marash, Turkey


Parents: Rev. Yeghia and Margaret Kassouny

Siblings: At least four sisters - Sirvart, Lucy, Marie, Margaret

Marital Status: married Arousiag Joy Stephanian in 1939

Children: none


1932 BA in philosophy and religion from Robert College (Istanbul) and American University in Beirut

1936 BA from Near East School of Theology - Beirut

1946 Doctor of Medicine and Surgery from the American University of Beirut Medical School

1952 Degree in pathology from the University of Pennsylvania


1946-1947 Intern at the American Hospital in Tripoli, Lebanon. Served as unpaid associate pastor at his father's church in Tripoli

1947-1948 Assistant at the American Hospital's dermatology clinic and pharmaceutical department

Field secretary of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches for Lebanon/Syria. Participated every summer in Christian Endeavour's summer campaigns among young people

post 1948 Pastor of Armenian Evangelical Church of New York

post 1948 Interim pastor of Armenian Presbyterian Church of Paramus, NJ

post 1948 Moderator of the Armenian Evangelical Union in the United States (two terms) and editor of the denomination's newspaper, The Armenian American Outlook

post 1948 President of the Armenian Missionary Association of America

1949-? Minister at the Armenian Martyr's Congregational Church in Philadelphia

1955- ca.1971 Associated with the Veterans Administration where he became Chief of Clinical Pathology and Assistant Chief of Laboratory Service at the Manhattan Veterans Administration Hospital in New York

1965 The Kassounys moved to Tarrytown, New York

Ca. 1970 Chaplain of the American Evangelical Union

Date and Place of Death: ca. 1979 in Tarrytown, NY


1.00 Box

1 Photograph File

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[Note: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means "Box 2, Folder 5"]

Arrangement: Alphabetical, by document type. Arrangement supplied by processor.

Volume: .25 cu ft; 1 Box

Geographic Coverage: Philadelphia and Wheaton in the United States, Lebanon, Syria

Type of Materials: Personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, tracts, researcher notes, a 1933 Wheaton College yearbook, and miscellaneous articles.

Correspondents: Dicran Kassouny, Loyal L. Wirt, Vartan (last name unknown), Enock Dyrness, single letters from several others

Subjects: The massacres of the Armenians in the early twentieth century, Arousiag Stephanian's status as a minor Christian "celebrity" in the United States, Wheaton College in the 1930s, the Armenian Church in Lebanon in the 1940s, marriage and family life


Photocopied items were present in the collection when it was received by the Billy Graham Center Archives.

The information in the collection on Arousiag's experiences during the Armenian massacres can be found in the articles from The Sunday School Times and other publications in folders 1-5, 1-8 and 1-9. These are often sensational in nature. A handwritten article and other material on Arousiag written after her death in folder 1-7 contains some additional information. The support she received from The Sunday School Times, under the editorship of Philip Howard, is shown by correspondence in folder 1-1 as well as material in folders 1-7 through 1-9. Because of the coverage of her experiences in the Times, Arousiag became well known to the readership of that publication in the United States. Folder 1-1 contains some of the correspondence she received as a result of this celebrity, including offers to speak or write her story. The same folder has letters from Loyal Wirt, a missionary who knew her as a child. A few clippings in folder 1-5 contain some details of her education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Her years at Wheaton are documented by correspondence from in folder 1-1, articles in folder 1-5 and her yearbook in folder 1-10, which contains brief comments from many of her friends. There are also several letters from a man named Vartan, who apparently had been her beau for a time.

She was a student in Wheaton's Conservatory of Music (and continued to give musical performances the rest of her life). Programs for some of the Conservatory concerts and recitals in which she participated during her Wheaton years, as well as one for a Women's Glee Club concert, are in folder 1-6. Other information on her Wheaton years, including comments from J. Oliver Buswell, Enock Dyrness and Katharine Shapleigh, can be found in folder 1-8.

Dicran's letters to Arousiag during their courtship and engagement (folder 1-2) and the early part of their marriage (folder 1-3) deal largely with his love for her and his thoughts on their life together. They illustrate many aspects of one Christian's view of love, marriage and family.

Dicran's letters in folder 1-2 and 1-3 also contain much information on his Christian Endeavor work in particular and the Armenian church in Lebanon and Palestine in general, including mentions of Aleppo, Beirut, Tripoli, and other cities of the area. These letters contain some interesting glimpses of congregational life. They also have a few details about the influence of World war II on the area, such as censorship and contacts with Allied soldiers. There is no reference to the events that led to the founding of the state of Israel. Additional information on the Armenian church can be found in some of the clippings in folder 1-8. Information on Arousiag's work as an educator is occasionally referred to in the letters in folders 1-2 and 1-3 and in articles in folder 1-5 and 1-8. A pamphlet on the Armenian Missionary Association of America is in folder 1-4. This is the group that supported the school for educators at which she taught.

Exceptional Items: Folder 1-4 includes a tract on unanswered prayer by Clarence Edward Macartney.

Related Materials: Further articles about Arousiag can be found in The Sunday School Times, January 17 and May 15, 1920.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were purchased by the Billy Graham Center Archives in April 1993 from Shirley Baird, a manuscript dealer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.

Accession 93-53

April 25, 1997

Robert Shuster

Scott Reist

Collection 539 Papers of Joy and Dicran Kassouny
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US