Rep. Adam Schiff Requests Armenian Orphan Rug for Capitol Hill Event from the White House

Washington, DC –Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting that the White House lend the Ghazir rug, more commonly known as the Armenian Orphan Rug, be lent out for an event on Capitol Hill hosted by Schiff with survivors, historians, members of the Armenian-American community, and Members of Congress and their staff to highlight the efforts made by the American government to aid the Armenian community after the first genocide in the 20th century.  Schiff previously had previously encouraged the White House to allow the rug to be displayed at the Smithsonian.

The full letter is below:

Dear Mr. President:

As the centennial commemoration  of the Armenian Genocide draws ever closer, I will be hosting an event in the coming weeks to highlight the American response to the slaughter, including the efforts by American diplomats, journalists, and Near East Relief.

Most Americans, including a great many of my colleagues in Congress, are not aware of the scope and scale of the American response to the genocide.  Our efforts, public and private, helped to relocate refugees and to provide relief to survivors and their families throughout the years of the genocide (1915-23) and after.  But America’s generosity was not lost on those we helped.  In 1925, a group of Armenian orphans who had been relocated to Ghazir, now in Lebanon, wove a rug, now known as the "orphan rug," and gave it as a gift to US President Calvin Coolidge.  To highlight these efforts, I will be hosting an educational event here in the Capitol  and plan to invite survivors, historians, members of the Armenian-American community, and Members of Congress and their staff.

As part of this event, I believe that it would be fitting to display that Ghazir rug, which embodies the tragedy of the genocide and the rebirth of the Armenian people and I respectfully request that it be made available for the event.

Earlier this year, the White House declined a request to loan the rug for display at an event held at the Smithsonian, stating that a book signing was not considered an appropriate venue.  At the time, the White House indicated that it would consider a display of the rug in another setting, and I believe that this would be an appropriate venue and occasion for a viewing. 

I hope that you will grant my request expeditiously and that the White House curator’s office will work with my staff and me to arrange a mutually acceptable date in January or February of 2014.

Thank you for your consideration.


Adam B. Schiff