Avedis Derounian signing copies of “Under Cover”

BELMONT, MA — The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research in early April received a Massachusetts Humanities grant for programming centered around one of NAASR’s most significant archives—that of Avedis Derounian, aka John Roy Carlson, who infiltrated the American Nazi underground and wrote Under Cover (E. P. Dutton, 1943), a New York Times best seller with at least 20 reprintings.

The grant for “The Avedis Derounian Archive at NAASR: A Vital Resource on US-Based Extremism,” is part of a new round of Mass Humanities grant-making, totaling more than $250,000 to 59 cultural organizations to reach their audiences digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with funding provided through the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Under the name John Roy Carlson, Derounian infiltrated the American Nazi underground and wrote Under Cover in 1943 about these experiences. He also wrote The Plotters (E. P. Dutton, 1946) and Cairo to Damascus (Alfred Knopf, 1951). NAASR’s Digital Capacity grant will support virtual programming to expand understanding of Derounian’s experiences with the threat of domestic fascism and extremism in the U.S. in the 1930s and 1940s as well as a new webpage with digitized materials from the Derounian collection.

Following Derounian’s death, his archives were transferred to NAASR. They are one of NAASR’s most significant special collections, comprising more than 75 boxes of unpublished writings, notes, photographs and other materials. His fascinating life experiences, contained in his archive, reveal striking details about U.S.-based fascist, pro-Nazi and other extreme right-wing and extremist groups of that time. “His writings and insights have held immense fascination to the public since publication of his book “Under Cover” over 75 years ago, and they are all-too-relevant again today,” commented NAASR’s Executive Director Sarah Ignatius. “We are very grateful to Mass Humanities and the Massachusetts Cultural Council for recognizing the significance of these materials and supporting our digital programming to expand understanding about them and increasing access to them.”

NAASR’s new Vartan Gregorian Building remains closed to the public but will reopen again as soon as it is safe to do so. Mass Humanities is a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. More information can be found at www.masshumanities.org.

About NAASR’s Mardigian Library

NAASR’s Edward and Helen Mardigian Library at NAASR, one of the largest publicly accessible Armenian libraries outside of Armenia, consists of more than 31,000 books, pamphlets, periodicals, maps, and documents, primarily in Armenian and English, dating as far back as the 1600s. The collection encompasses a broad range of topics, including history, literature, art, architecture, linguistics, poetry, as well as law, anthropology, cooking, and natural sciences. The library is named in honor of the late Edward and Helen Mardigian in recognition of their decades of generous support of NAASR and its initiatives to advance Armenian Studies, and the continued support of the Mardigian family.

NAASR continues to expand its holdings through the generous donations of materials, as donations form the core of NAASR’s Mardigian Library. Those interested in donating materials to NAASR should contact Marc Mamigonian, Director of Academic Affairs, or Ani Babaian, Library Curator, at [email protected]

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