In the late 1960s, cultural associations such as the Armenian Mixed Youth Association (established in Detroit, February 12, 1967), the Armenian Cultural Association (established in New York, May 5, 1967,) the Armenian Cultural Association (established in New Jersey, December 1, 1968,) and the Armenian Cultural Association (established in Boston, May 14, 1969) were formed in the eastern United States. In 1975, with the intention of creating a unified body to develop and coordinate the Armenian cultural activities in Northern America, the Armenian Cultural Association of New York invited the Armenian Cultural Associations of Boston and New Jersey, the Armenian Mixed Youth Association of Detroit, and the Hamazkayin chapters of Montreal and Toronto for a meeting. That meeting created a temporary office for Hamazkayin in the region. A letter was written to the Central Committee of Hamazkayin. A third meeting in the same year resulted in the formation of a representative body. It was called the Executive Body of the Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural Association in Northern America and it functioned for two years. In June 1977, at a meeting in Boston, it was decided that the USA and Canada should have separate Hamazkayin regional bodies. Thus, the Eastern USA region established its structure, named it the Hamazkayin Armenian Cultural Association, and elected its very first Regional Committee in 1977.
Afterward, the Philadelphia (1980), Washington (1981), Chicago (1981), and Providence (1994) chapters of Hamazkayin joined the structure of the Eastern USA region.
The Eastern USA Hamazkayin chapters are the followings:
- The New York chapter: It was founded in 1967 under the name Armenian Cultural Association. The Massis Theater Company, Kousan Choir, and the dance troupe were formed in its first days
In 1976, the Association renamed itself Hamazkayin. The Hamazkayin chapter of New York succeeded in the Armenian community with its high quality theater productions, choir concerts, literary and memorial events, debates, seminars, exhibitions, and cooperation with Armenian university students.
The founder and director of the theater company is playwright and poet Hrant Markarian. Under his direction, the theater company registered several performances in America, as well as in various diaspora communities. It is the only Armenian theater company in the United States, which has consistently staged plays for 40 years. 387 actors have performed with the company. The choir is the first Armenian choir to be praised by The New York Times.
Garbo Safarian and Alain Giragossian direct the dance troupe. The New York Chapter of Hamazkayin is the only chapter to publish MENK, the bilingual literary periodical.
To encourage students in the Armenian schools, the Association has organized yearly recitation, spelling, and national knowledge contests.
The chapter has also organized a huge number of literary, cultural, and memorial events.
Together with the New Jersey chapter of Hamazkayin, the chapter has organized the Naregatsi Pan-Armenian Conference. In 2007, again with the New Jersey chapter, the chapter renovated schools in the villages of Jamparag, Kedap, and Ardeni on Armenia’s borders.
In the memory of late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, the chapter founded a printing house in the history faculty of the Armenian Academy of National Sciences.
With its small number of active members, the chapter has a respected presence in the community. However, it also has a huge number of supporters, as well.
- The Detroit chapter: It was founded on December 17, 1967, as the Armenian Cultural Association. Ten years later, the Association joined the Hamazkayin family. It has 22 members. The chapter once had a theater company.
The chapter has organized lectures and events celebrating Armenian authors.
Currently the chapter has a dance troupe.
- The New Jersey chapter: It was founded on December 1, 1968. It has 39 members.
The chapter has organized public events, lectures, book events, and other celebrations.
In 2005, the children’s and youth choir was founded.
The chapter has a theater company. Its most recent production, “Boys of Georgetown,” was well-received.
In 2005, the Nyree Dance Troupe was reorganized.
In 2006, the crafts center started its activities. Through it, children and teenagers can explore their artistic talents. The products of the crafts center are sold at the Hamazkayin bookstore.
In 2007, the chapter began dhol (Armenian percussions) lessons. The teenaged students are instructed by Garo Kahvejian.
The chapter has produced several publications.
The chapter has been able to unite dedicated individuals, dedicated to supporting the growth of Armenian culture and assisting the efforts to preserve national identity.
- The Philadelphia chapter: It was founded in 1980. It has 16 members. The chapter committee organizes Children’s Talent Day and invites lecturers and theater companies from other regions.
- The Chicago chapter: It was reorganized in 1981.
In 1982, the chapter founded Levon Shant Theater Company.
In 1986 Sartarabad Dance Troupe was founded.
In 2002, the choir was founded.
The chapter has 19 members, as well as supporting members, who organize literary, choir, theater, and dance performance events within the community. In the past 17 years, the chapter has participated in a two-day exhibition at a pan-cultural festival.
- The Washington chapter: It was founded in 1982. It has 21 members. It also includes a youth unit. They organize high-quality events.
For 25 years, the chapter has hosted a theater company. It stages plays by Armenian and foreign playwrights nearly every year.
Through the efforts of Kourken Assadourian, the chapter has helped establish two Hamazkayin Foundations: the Assadourian and Semerjian Foundations. For years, they have supported Hamazkayin’s local and pan-diasporan needs.
The chapter has also hosted concerts for talented choirs and dance ensembles from Armenia. It has also invited Armenian intellectuals both from Armenia and various diaspora communities.
- The Providence chapter: It was founded in 1994. It has 19 members. All the chapter activities are conducted by the Chapter Committee. They invite art groups and lecturers from other regions.
7 Armenian Street, Providence, RI 02909