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Missionary Educators and the Asia Minor Disaster: Anatolia College's Move to Greece John 0. Iatrides The uprooting of Anatolia College from its birthplace in Merzifun (Marsovan) and its subsequent move to Thessaloniki is a poignant detail in the plight of the countless victims of the turbulence caused by the First World War and Mustafa Kemal's nationalist revolution . It is an integral part of the savage destruction of the large and prosperous Armenian and Greek communities of Asia Minor and their forced relocation in Greece (many Armenians took refuge in the Black Sea areas of Russia or made their way to the United States) under the most tragic conditions. In the early 1920s the college's struggle to survive became intertwined with the saga of the refugee resetdement which transformed the ancient city of Thessaloniki— now celebrating its founding 2300 years ago—and brought profound change to all Greece. During its first difficult years in the suburb of Charilaou, Anatolia was a tiny bright light in one of the darkest hours of a city gutted by fire (in 1917) and swarming with waves of homeless, penniless, sick and bewildered people. The story of Anatolia College is also the story of a handful of remarkable Americans who, in a quiet and unassuming way and through their determination, resourcefulness and self-sacrifice, succeeded in bestowing upon hundreds of impoverished refugees the sense of purpose and optimism which only education and moral training can provide. Charles C. Tracy, George E. White, Ernest W. Riggs and Carl C. Compton were philanthropes in the truest meaning of that overworked word. Their labors among Armenians and Greeks, as well as Russians, Bulgarians and Turks, bore fruit of enduring value and is the stuff of which social history is made. But the story of Anatolia College is also the story of many Greeks, prominent and not, who welcomed the school and gave it their endorsement and support. From Eleftherios Venizelos, Andreas Mihalacopoulos, Alexandras Papanastasiou, George Roussos and 143 144 John O. Iatrides the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Gennadios, to middle-level civil servants in Thessaloniki and the ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Religion and Public Education, Greek officials saw in the American school a valuable asset to the youth of northern Greece. While leery of foreign influences and of political and religious propaganda emanating from other quarters, in the aftermath of the Asia Minor disaster and the flight of the refugees to Greece they were satisfied that Anatolia's impact upon its students could only be positive and in the country's broadest interest. Anatolia College was formally established in Merzifun in September 1886, having evolved from an American Protestant seminary founded at Bebek, a suburb of Constantinople (later Istanbul), some 45 years earlier by the Rev. Cyrus Hamlin. It was sponsored by the Boston-based American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and remained a child of the Board even after 1894, when it was incorporated in the state of Massachusetts and acquired its own board of trustees. Its first president, the Rev. Charles Chapin Tracy, D.D., molded the school into a liberal arts "college" which combined a solid secular curriculum with a strong emphasis on Bible study and a non-sectarian approach to Christian values and character -building.1 In Tracy's own words, the school's mission was: 1. To enable young men of small means to win a liberal education through their own industry. 2. To develop a spirit of manly self-reliance . 3. To inculcate the idea of the dignity of labor. 4. To make young men practical and handy with tools. 5. To keep up physical tone by bodily activity. 6. To recover by sales as much as possible of the expense.2 In 1926, when a preparatory section had been added, President George E. White wrote: "The aim is to teach boys and young men about the ages of twelve and twenty years, during the period when character is determined, and train them in the strength of an American education with practice in Christian living. The college is nonsectarian , broadly tolerant and sincerely Christian."3 By the dawn of the 20th century Anatolia had grown into a flourishing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 143-157
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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