They came by the hundreds, even thousands — ethnic Armenian women who had survived the World-War-I-era massacres in Turkey and were brought by ship to the United States to meet the equally anxious Armenian men, complete strangers, who would become their partners for life.
Love was scarce, but the hunger for survival wasn’t. In a patchwork-effort to reconstruct Armenian bloodlines and the culture that had been lost dur-ing the violent upheaval of 1915, the phenomenon of the 1920s Armenian picture-brides foreshadowed modern dating agencies and changed the course of the Armenian Diaspora forever.
Their passages were organized by informal networks of friends, family and Armenian-American communities; often, the prospective husbands had only seen a photo of their brides-to-be.
Both of 63-year-old Los Angeles realtor Dianne Bedrosian Ohanesian’s grandmothers were picture-brides. In fact, every woman in Ohanesian’s ex-tended family was matched up with an Armenian husband who had emi-grated to the US years before.
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Liana Aghajanian is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.