In Memoriam: Richard G. Hovannisian



The USC Dornsife Center for Advanced Genocide Research mourns the death of Richard G. Hovannisian, who was a close friend of the Center and passed away on July 10, 2023 at the age of 90 years old.

“This is a monumental loss,” Center Founding Director Wolf Gruner said. “The magnitude of Richard Hovannisian’s impact on the field of Armenian Studies and on generations of scholars, students, and survivor families cannot be overstated. His scholarly contributions will be long-lasting.” The Richard G. Hovannisian Armenian Genocide Oral History Collection of over 1,000 testimonies is the largest existing collection of voices of Armenian genocide survivors. In 2018, Professor Hovannisian entrusted the collection to the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive. Several of the Center’s research fellows and visiting scholars have productively relied on these testimonies for their work. “Richard was always generous with sharing his expertise,” Professor Gruner said. “He was very open minded and kind and exemplified what it means to be a public historian. He organized panels about the Armenian genocide in museums, public libraries and scholarly conferences, including the pioneering event at Lessons & Legacies, the premier international academic conference in Holocaust Studies, in November 2010, where I had the honor to be one of the presenters.”

Richard Hovannisian was one of the founders of Armenian Studies as a discipline in the United States. In his illustrious career, he produced numerous books that are considered foundational, including Armenia on the Road to IndependenceThe Republic of Armenia, Volumes I-IV; and The Armenian Holocaust. He wrote, edited, or contributed to dozens of other books, scholarly articles, and journals on Armenia and Near Eastern society and culture. He trained many young scholars who have gone on to become experts in the study of Armenia from ancient to modern times. Over the years, he earned many fellowships and honors for his commitment to educating the world about Armenian history and culture through his teaching, writing, research, and public lectures.

Between 1972 and 2000, Richard Hovannisian and his students at UCLA collected over 1,000 oral history interviews with Armenian genocide survivors and their descendants, mostly in California. Currently, 636 interviews in the Richard G. Hovannisian Armenian Genocide Oral History Collection are accessible via the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive. In March 2019, the Center and the USC Dornsife Institute of Armenian Studies coorganized an event where Professor Hovannisian and three of his former students discussed the history and personal and intellectual significance of their work on the oral history collection. Watch that event here or below.

The Center celebrates the legacy of Professor Hovannisian’s life and work. We offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, students, and everyone touched by his work and his life. We will miss him dearly, but his legacy will endure.