Lucille Apcar Introduces New Book
Left to right: Mimi Malayan and Lucille Apcar with photo of Lucille's grandmother, Diana Agabeg Apcar
On October 26th the California State University, Fresno Armenian Studies Program and Armenian Studies Organization welcomed Lucille Apcar, granddaughter of Diana Agabeg Apcar. Lucille Apcar spoke about her grandmother and shared stories from the newly published book, From the Book of One Thousand Tales: Stories of Armenia and Its People, 1892-1922 by Diana Agabeg Apcar.
Diana Apcar was born October 12, 1859 in Rangoon, then British East Indies, now Yangon, Myanmar. The Apcar’s family trace back to Persia where they lived for over 300 years.
In 1891, Apcar moved with her husband, Michael, to Yokohama, Japan. Michael Apcar imported and exported shellac lacquer pearls. They moved to Japan because it was opening its doors to the West and brought business opportunities.
Diana married Michael Apcar at age 29 and they had a turbulent 15-year marriage. They had five children between 1890 and 1896; two of whom died as children.
Writing was Diana Apcar’s passion. She wrote thirteen books, numerous pamphlets and papers, on topics such as politics. In the late 19th century most women did nothing outside of the home; Diana Apcar was an exception.
In 1920, Diana Apcar was named Consul to the Republic of Armenia. She was the first woman to serve in a diplomatic capacity. This appointment allowed Apcar to provide assistance to hundreds of refugees fleeing Turkish and Russian oppression. She helped the refugees by providing economic assistance and shelter.
During this time, Apcar interviewed Armenian refugees about the experiences faced while living under and escaping Turkish and Russian oppression. She recorded their accounts and used their stories as inspiration for the book, From the Book of One Thousand Tales: Stories of Armenia and Its People, 1892-1922.
Lucille Apcar describes the book as “not an epic, but a scholarly story.” It used humor and presents the most human side. She says that the writing is very descriptive and full of feeling. “Diana never stepped foot in her homeland of Armenia, but tells the story better than anyone else,” Lucille Apcar proudly sates.
Ruth Apcar, Diana’s daughter, brought the manuscript to America when the Apcars immigrated to the United States in 1946. When Ruth’s son, Lionel, passed away in 2002, Lucille found the manuscript.
Lucille, who was encouraged to publish the writings by her cousin, Mimi Malayan (Diana Apcar’s great granddaughter), knew it was important to share the stories of the Armenians with the world. “It’s one of the earliest accounts of the events of the time,” Lucille said.
Lucille Apcar spoke very fondly of her beloved grandmother, Diana, who passed away in 1937. Education was very important to Diana; she taught her children and grandchildren to read and write English. Lucille is grateful and appreciative for all her grandmother did during her lifetime.
Lucille Apcar was born is Yokohama, Japan. In 1946, the Apcars left Japan and came to America. During World War II the Apcars had it rough in Japan. They were treated as the enemy; Lucille’s father was imprisoned.
After arriving in America the Apcars settled in San Francisco. Lucille Apcar has lived in Mariposa, California the past seventeen years. She found her grandmother’s memoirs in 2002 and recently published them in 2004.