Robert College of Constantinople and the American College for Girls Under War Conditions

Article
WAR AND EDUCATION IN THE 1910S: ROBERT COLLEGE OF CONSTANTINOPLE AND THE AMERICAN COLLEGE FOR GIRLS UNDER WAR CONDITIONS

 
Robert College was established in 1863 as an American male college in the then Ottoman capital Constantinople by the Americans Christopher Rheinlander Robert (d. 1878), a wealthy New York merchant and philanthropist, and Cyrus Hamlin (d. 1900), a Protestant missionary devoted to education and the first president of the college (1863-1877). Some years later, in 1871, a sister college, named American College for Girls (called later on Constantinople Woman’s College), was also founded.[2]

The present paper draws attention to an aspect, which is almost completely neglected in military history, and namely the impact of wars on the civilian population. In particular, the paper will focus on the three wars, in which the Balkan states and the Ottoman Empire were involved during the second decade of the twentieth century (the 1912-1913 Balkan wars and the 1914-1918 World War I), and the impact they had upon the educational activities of the two American Protestant colleges at Istanbul.

The paper is based on reports and memoirs written by the presidents of the two colleges, Caleb Frank Gates, the third president of Robert College between 1903 and 1932 (dated August 12, 1913), and Mary Mills Patrick, president of the American College for Girls, named also Constantinople College, between 1890 and 1924 (dated January 30, 1915),[3] as well as some Ottoman documental evidences.

Both colleges attracted students of different nationalities and religious affiliation such as Armenians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jews, Turks, and others as well. However, due to a variety of reasons, these nationalities were not present on equal level. In the very beginning the Armenian and the Bulgarian students prevailed, then during the first two decades of the twentieth century the Greek students outnumbered the others, and finally, as of the establishment of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the Turkish students became more numerous at the expense of all other nationalities which had previously dominated in terms of number.[4]

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Orlin Sabev (Orhan Salih)
Institute of Balkan Studies, Sofia
Hacettepe University Ататürk and Revolution History Institute, (Visiting Scholar)[1]
 
Notes


[1] I would like to express my deep gratitude to TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) for providing me with a one-year grant for 2012 (within the framework of its supportive program for visiting scholars) in support of my research project History of Robert College in Light of Ottoman and Turkish Archives, as well as to thank Atatürk and Revolution History Institute at Hacettepe University, Ankara, and especially Prof. Dr. Fatma Acun, for providing me with research facilities and hospitality.  
[2] For more information about the foundation of Robert College see: May Fincancı, The Story of Robert College. Old and New 1863–1982, Istanbul: Redhouse Yayınevi, 1983; John Freely, A History of Robert College, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2000; Keith Greenwood, Robert College: the American Founders, Istanbul: Boğaziçi University Press, 2000.
[3] I would like to express my gratitude to New Europe College Center for Advanced Studies, Bucharest, for providing me with financial support to carry out a research trip to Columbia University, New York, as a part of my project entitled Robert College of Istanbul’s Bulgarian Students and Alumni, conducted within the framework of the Black Sea Link Program for the year 2010-2011.
[4] See Orlin Sabev, “A Tower of Babel in Constantinople: Robert College’s Students and Their Nationality”, Études balkaniques, V. XLVII, N. 2-3 (2011), pp. 117-159.
[5] Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Robert College Records MS # 1445, Subseries III.5: folder 33; John Freely, History, p. 178.
[6] Caleb F. Gates, Report of the President and Faculty of Robert College to the Trustees, Fiftieth Year, 1912-1913, p. 9.
[7] Caleb F. Gates, Report, p. 59-60.
[8] I would like to express my gratitude to Prof. Dr. David Cuthell (member of Robert College’s Board of Trustees), Mr. John Chandler (former headmaster of Robert College), and Mrs. Zeynep Torkak (archivist at Robert College) for providing me with the facility to explore this archive in the summer of 2012.
[9] Caleb F. Gates, Not to Me Only, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940, p. 203.
[10] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, p. 203.
[11] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, p. 204.
[12] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, pp. 204-205.
[13] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, pp. 205-206.
[14] Başbakanlık Osmanlı Arşivi (BOA), MF. MKT., Dosya 1209, Gömlek 68.
[15] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, pp. 214-215.
[16] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, p. 218.
[17] Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Robert College Records MS # 1445, Subseries III.5: folder 34; John Freely, A History, p. 216.
[18] See Orlin Sabev, “A Tower of Babel”, pp. 150-151 (Table 1).
[19] Adnan Şişman, A. XX. Yüzyıl Başlarında Osmanlı Devleti’nde Yabancı Devletlerin Kültürel ve Sosyal Müesseseleri, Ankara: Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi, 2006, pp. 32-33.
[20] George Washburn, Fifty Years in Constantinople and Recollections of Robert College, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909, p. 250.
[21] John C. Guckert, The Adaptation of Robert College to Its Turkish Environment, 1900-1927, Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Ohio State University, 1968 (unpublished Ph.D. thesis), pp. 59-60.
[22] See Orlin Sabev, “A Tower of Babel”, pp. 150-151 (Table 1).
[23] Yusuf Halaçoğlu, Ermeni Tehciri, İstanbul: Babıali Kültür Yayıncılığı, 2010, p. 82.
[24] Yusuf Halaçoğlu, Ermeni, p. 208.
[25] Caleb F. Gates, Not to, p. 221.
[26] Ayten Sezer, Atatürk Döneminde Yabancı Okullar (1923-1938), Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınevi, 1999, p. 41.
[27] Ayten Sezer, Atatürk Döneminde, p. 47.
[28] BOA, MF.MKT., Dosya 1207, Gömlek 17.
[29] Ayten Sezer, Atatürk Döneminde, p. 37.
[30] Ayten Sezer, Atatürk Döneminde, p. 54 (a 1925 letter by Admiral Mark L. Bristol to Frank B. Kellogg is quoted – footnote 205).
[31] John Freely, A History, p. 173.
[32] Ayten Sezer, Atatürk Döneminde, p. 44.
[33] BOA, MF. MKT. (Maarif, Mektubi), Dosya 1195, Gömlek 11.
[34] See: Orlin Sabev, “A Tower of Babel”, pp. 137-140, 151.
 
 
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Fincancı, May, The Story of Robert College. Old and New 1863–1982, Istanbul: Redhouse Yayınevi, 1983.
Freely, John, A History of Robert College, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2000.
Gates, Caleb F., Not to Me Only, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940.
Greenwood, Keith, Robert College: the American Founders, Istanbul: Boğaziçi University Press, 2000.
Guckert, John C., The Adaptation of Robert College to Its Turkish Environment, 1900-1927, Ann Arbor, Michigan: The Ohio State University, 1968 (unpublished Ph.D. thesis).
Halaçoğlu, Yusuf, Ermeni Tehciri, İstanbul: Babıali Kültür Yayıncılığı, 2010.
Sabev, Orlin, “A Tower of Babel in Constantinople: Robert College’s Students and Their Nationality”, Études balkaniques, V. XLVII, N. 2-3 (2011), pp. 117-159.
Sezer, Ayten, Atatürk Döneminde Yabancı Okullar (1923-1938), Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Yayınevi, 1999.
Şişman, Adnan, A. XX. Yüzyıl Başlarında Osmanlı Devleti’nde Yabancı Devletlerin Kültürel ve Sosyal Müesseseleri, Ankara: Atatürk Araştırma Merkezi, 2006.
Washburn, George, Fifty Years in Constantinople and Recollections of Robert College, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1909.
 
 

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