From Empire to Republic

The Role of American Missionaries in US-Ottoman Empire Relations and their Educational Legacy

by Hacer Bahar (Author)
©2019 Monographs 86 Pages


This book focuses on American missionary activities in the Ottoman Empire. After the construction of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Mission in 1810, American missionaries started to spread the Gospel around the world. The Ottoman Empire was perceived as a strategic place since it occupied Jerusalem. By the time they arrived, American missionaries found a weak central authority. Some of the Ottoman officials considered that Westernization of the public institutions in the Empire could strengthen central authority. In order to protect its integrity, the Ottoman Empire started to grant freedoms to the minorities. After gaining liberties, American Missionaries further strengthened their position in the Empire. This book analyzes the strong image of American missionary schools through Robert College which was established in 1863. Robert College which reflects American ideals, preserves its distinguished place to this day.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Abstract
  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • 1 The Origins of American Protestant Missionaries
  • 1.1 The establishment of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
  • 2 Arrival of Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire
  • 2.1 The Millet System
  • 2.2 The Tanzimat and Islahat Decrees and the first Ottoman Constitution
  • 3 Early Ottoman-American Relations
  • 4 American Missionaries’ Arrival in Anatolia
  • 4.1 Missionary stations and regions
  • 5 Robert College
  • 5.1 The Construction of Robert College
  • 5.2 Education at Robert College
  • 5.3 Requirements for tutors in Robert College as of 1868
  • 5.4 Enrolment in the College
  • 5.5 Preparatory School
  • 5.6 The College curriculum
  • 5.7 The historical development of the College
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliograpy

| 9 →


The origins of this work lie within my search for a possible research topic in American-Turkish relations that I could develop into my master’s thesis. I wanted to analyse the relationship from a historical perspective, thus my research started with US-Ottoman Empire encounters. As I progressed, I realized that American missionaries played a significant role in the development of American-Ottoman diplomatic relations. Hence, I broadened my scope to include American missionaries. Furthermore, by bringing history and religious studies together, my thesis would fit the interdisciplinary approach that is taken at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies. Later the book that I received from my friend Patricia Temiz called Fifty Years In Constantinople And Recollections of Robert College by George Washburn gave me the idea of analyzing American missionaries within the context of their schools, thus also adding education to the subject areas under consideration. Robert College is one of the most long-standing products of American missionary activity that still continues to admit students. Robert College is also significant as it was the first American higher education institution to be established outside of the United States. The methodology of the thesis is desk research undertaken in the American Research Institute in Istanbul and at the Bosphorus and Bilkent University libraries. The thesis includes primary sources such as memoirs, letters, annual reports, catalogues, newspapers as well as secondary sources including academic journals, books and Master’s and PhD theses. Apart from archival research, the thesis also retrieved the primary sources via secondary sources due to limited access online. Primary sources played a strong role in this thesis as they provided figures, dates and depicted the conditions of American missionaries in the Ottoman Empire and later Turkish Republic.

This work is the result of my MA thesis and there are many institutions and individuals to thank. At the top of my list of acknowledgments must be Heidelberg Center for American Studies which offered me an academic home and intellectual encouragement and enabled me to realise my academic aims that I had formulated when I was an undergraduate at the University of Bilkent. Special thanks are due to the Leonie Wild Foundation ← 9 | 10 → whose financial support immensely assisted me during my graduate studies in Heidelberg. I would like to thank the archival staff at the American Research Institute in Turkey whose help enabled me to gain access to numerous works in my research area. I must also thank my friends and family, whose support encouraged me to continue on this journey. I am grateful to Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker and Dr. Anne Sommer who guided me throughout my graduate studies. I am indebted to my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann, who agreed to take on this challenge and guide the development of my work. The advice and kind words also provided by Dr. Anja Schüler, who became my second reader in this project, were invaluable. I would like to specifically thank Patricia Temiz for her insight and proof-reading, and the encouragement which helped me to complete this thesis. I also would like to thank the faculty of American Culture and Literature at Bilkent University: Prof. Dr. Lale Demirtürk, Dr. Edward Kohn, Dr. Jennifer Reimer, Dr. Dennis Bryson, Dr. Daniel Johnson whose teaching during my undergraduate studies in Ankara contributed to my academic aspirations.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2019 (May)
US History Ottoman History Robert College Westernization
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019., 86 pp.

Biographical notes

Hacer Bahar (Author)

Hacer Bahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in American Culture and Literature from Bilkent University and a Master of Arts in American Studies from Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg.


Title: From Empire to Republic
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
88 pages