Syndicated News
Exhibit on Missionaries to Assyrians in Persia
By Kristen Gaydos
Bookmark and Share

(left to right) Nancy Taylor, "The Life of John Haskell Shedd" book cover, Hooman Estelami. ( Presbyterian Historical Society)
Through April 30, the Presbyterian Historical Society (PHS) is hosting a traveling exhibit, "Assyrians from Persia (Iran) to the United States, 1887-1923: Assyrian Education, American Missionaries, and the Search for a Home." In conjunction with the exhibit, PHS welcomed Dr. Hooman Estelami of Fordham University for an event and talk on March 21.

Exhibit Link: Missionaries & the Assyrian Bridge to America During the Qajar Era

Using archival correspondence, diaries, biographies and photographs -- many from the PHS collections -- Estelami discussed the impact Presbyterian missionaries had on education, medicine and evangelism in the city of Urmia in northwestern Persia during the Qajar era. During his talk, Estelami also discussed how this community of missionaries helped protect the Assyrian population of the region in the years leading up to and including World War I.

Following the exhibit talk, PHS welcomed Estelami and descendants of John Haskell Shedd for a PHS LIVE webinar on April 4. John Haskell Shedd served as a missionary in Urmia beginning in 1859.

In 2023, Shedd descendants and Estelami worked together to publish a newly discovered manuscript, "The Life of John Haskell Shedd." Uncovered in family papers in 2020, the newly published book, available through Mazda Publishers, shows how Shedd methodically recorded his observations and experiences as he conducted missionary work among Christian populations in the Turco-Persian border region. Born in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, Shedd and his wife, Sarah Jane Dawes Shedd, helped establish the Assyrian Evangelical Church, strengthened diplomatic relations between Persia and America and constructed one of Persia's first modern medical colleges.

During the webinar, Estelami offered an abridged version of his presentation on Presbyterian missionaries to Urmia that was followed by a Q&A with PHS Executive Director Nancy J. Taylor and the Shedd descendants. The family members shared how the discovery of the papers revealed personal unexplored histories and talked about the importance of record-keeping in archival institutions like PHS.

Visitors to the Presbyterian Historical Society can view the traveling exhibit, Assyrians from Persia (Iran) to the United States, 1887-1923: Assyrian Education, American Missionaries, and the Search for a Home, through April 30. Recordings of the events have been made available on the PHS website.

Type your comment and click
or register to post a comment.
* required field
User ID*
enter user ID or e-mail to recover login credentials