Col. Rhea Papers: Overlap & Intersection

Mark A. Kalustian, a well-known researcher and bibliophile in his article “The Newly-Discovered “Rhea Papers”: Col. James Rhea (U.S.A.) and the Zangezur Agreement Nov. 23, 1919: A Documentary Interpretation,” of The Armenian Review, describes how after carefully and thoroughly reviewing the contents of the Rhea Papers in his collection he came to the inevitable conclusion that in his possession were pieces of gold.  As he writes:

“I realized that the Rhea Papers shed valuable light on a generally neglected aspect of the history of the Independent Republic of Armenia (May 28, 1918-December 2, 1920), namely the Armenian-Azerbaijanian Tatar rivalry in the Transcaucasus of those days. Therefore, because of the nature of the papers that have come into my possession, I decided that their context ought to be shared with readers of The Armenian Review in the form of this documentary commentary.”[pg. 245]

Kalustian further goes on to say that his hope is that his study “will rescue Colonel James Cooper Rhea from the obscurity of neglected history.”  This speaks to something that reflects the pursuit of history at its best.  The ability to unearth something or someone that has been buried for years that serves to deepen our understanding of an event, a life, or an idea even.  Everything is like a quilt.  Each aspect of it: every person, place, idea, and event is like a thread overlapping and intersecting with other threads weaving together forming a tapestry of intricate texture, vibrancy, and color.  All of the elements of that tapestry serve a higher purpose: they tell a story!  The significance of which can only be understood by and through what all of those threads say.  Both collectively as well as respectively.

In this article we learn that Col. James C. Rhea was a thread in the social tapestry of Armenian events in the post World War I years.  Yet it wasn’t until 1982 that his role in these events was became more widely recognized.  Kalustian helps to show the significance of Rhea by sharing other threads of Rhea’s story such as his passport and transcriptions of conversations.  Through Rhea we find it more possible to see the world in a grain of sand.


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