[caption id="attachment_1251" align="alignleft" width="150"] Martin the Armenian[/caption]
The Armenian Diaspora refers to groups of Armenian people that reside outside their native country. This group of individuals ranges all over the world, and perhaps the most prominent community is made up of Armenians in North America and Canada.
"Martin the Armenian" was the first of his nationality known to set foot on North American soil. He arrived at the colony of Jamestown in 1618 and was quickly followed by two more Armenians who were invited to the New World to experiment with and examine the silkworm life cycle, in hopes of cultivating their silk creations. Although historical records reveal Armenians trickled into the country during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, they did not voyage to North America in large numbers until the second part of the 1800's as well as the early 1900's. This period marked the first organized communities of Armenian people. The first of these people to establish themselves in the New World were in fact college age young adults who planned on continuing their education in colleges and universities. Interestingly enough, the foundations of these students' Western knowledge were laid by American missionaries during the Ottoman Empire.
Another factor that provided motivation for Armenians to cross the Atlantic was the economic opportunity. The only Armenian on record to fight in the U.S. Civil War, Khachadour Garabedian, worked as an engineer in the Navy to help lead the North to victory. He came to America during the mid-nineteenth century and lived his life in Massachusetts as a factory worker. Worcester, MA, and Fresno, CA, in particular, were two locations that attracted large amounts of Armenian immigrants because of the economic growth made possible by plentiful resources (factories and land.) Even today these places are home to many prominent American-Armenian families.
Armenians have also endured tense and hostile relations with larger more powerful nations. A handful of large-scale massacres, most notably the Armenian genocide, prompted many to flee their newly developing homes in regions such as Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, California, and even Ontario Canada. This relocation process lasted from the 1890's to the 1920's. Another example of movement away from turmoil was a group of young men referred to as the "Georgetown boys." This group of genocide orphans came to Georgetown, Ontario and received aid and care from the Armenian Relief Association of Canada. Many Canadian cities today still serve as large centers for Armenian-Canadian communities; cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Calgary.
The rise and fall of different regimes (including Beirut, Damascus, and Moscow) led to waves of Armenian immigration to North America throughout the 20th century. As a result, diverse Armenian communities have emerged, (in particular among the Southern California regions.) The efforts of Armenian immigrants which helped to develop North America are endless in number. The inventor of the MRI scan, the first woman master chief officer of the U.S. Navy, professional athletes, and notable authors are only some examples of Armenians who have helped to build and influence the New World.