Satenig Karabian began her scrapbook way before it became trendy. In 1930 she began clipping every article out of the Fresno Bee that featured Armenians: marriages, deaths and news stories, Karabian collected them all. Every time she clipped an article out the paper and placed it in her scrapbook, Karabian was recording history.
Karabian, who was born in Bitlis, Armenia, in 1903, came to America with her family in 1906. They settled in Fresno, where other family members already resided, and began their new life. Satenig married her first cousin Benjamin Karabian in 1930. They had no children. This allowed Karabian to become very close to her nieces and nephews.
Karabian, who kept her scrapbook current until her death in 1983, passed the three volumes on to her niece Elaine Karabian Garo and nephew Walter Karabian.
“I have preserved these pages and inserted the originals in plastic covers because I know how valuable they are,” said Walter Karabian, a former State Assemblyman from Los Angeles. “For our Karabian family, every time we turn these pages and show the pages to others, it becomes a wonderful journey down memory lane. Our aunt Satenig always remains in our hearts.”
Now the Karabian family is donating the beloved scrapbooks to the Armenian Studies Program at Fresno State so they can be scanned and archived.
“I trust Dr. Dickran Kouymjian and Barlow Der Mugrdechian to put them in the right environment so that they have the greatest access to anyone who is studying 20th century Armenian life in Fresno,” Karabian said. “I would like to have them available to Armenian scholars and the Armenian Library Museum of America in Boston so that Armenian scholars can access them.”
One thing that Karabian said is noticeable about the scrapbooks is that the farther back in time you go, the less coverage Armenians received by the Fresno Bee. “This shows that in the first half of the twentieth century the community was less accepting of Armenians,” Karabian said. As time went on the newspaper began covering Armenians more frequently, which reflected their growing acceptance in the community.
Satenig Karabian’s scrapbooks are one of a kind. Her love for Fresno’s Armenian community is evident when one looks at the meticulous care used to create the books. Fresno State is lucky to have such a rich piece of history.