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Latifeh Alvieh Yarshater (1926-1999)


Please note, this press release is a joint announcement by the Center for Iranian Studies, the Persian Heritage Foundation, and the Encyclopaedia Iranica Foundation. Funeral services will be on Saturday, May 22, 1999 at 10:00 a.m. at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel (1076 Madison 81st St.), , New York City. We will miss her.

It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Mrs. Latifeh Alvieh Yarshater on May 17, 1999, after a characteristically brave and stoic struggle against cancer. We offer our deepest condolences to Professor Yarshater and cherish her memory as a dedicated supporter of the Encyclopædia Iranica and a constant source of inspiration and friendship to all the members of the Center.

A graduate of the American School for Girls in Tehran, Ms. Latifeh Alvieh held a B.A. and M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University. From 1951 through 1961 she served as Cultural Advisor to the United States Information Service in Tehran in its leader grant program. Her voluntary work included initiating and directing summer camps for girls and young women from 1953, and organizing the first youth conference in Iran. She was founder and president of Shahnaz Girls1 Clubs, and a founding member of the National Council of the Women of Iran. She spent a year of study and observation on youth work and women1s activities in Europe and the United States on a leader grant. She represented various Iranian womens1 organizations at several international conferences in Germany (1957), India, Ceylon (1958), Canada, and Turkey.

When her husband, Dr. Ehsan Yarshater, was appointed to the Hagop Kevorkian Chair of Iranian Studies at Columbia University in 1961, they moved to New York City and once settled in her new home, she continued her activities and applied her knowledge and experience through serving on numerous councils and committees, including the Women1s National Council in the United States. She published several articles in both Persian and English. From 1986-90 she worked at the Middle East Institute of Columbia University as Coordinator of its Outreach Program, which was designed to bring accurate knowledge of Middle Eastern affairs to students, teachers, and the general public. Latifeh Alvieh and Ehsan Yarshater first met in 1953, when he returned from his studies in England. Soon they found that they had much in common, especially a deep devotion to Persian culture in its widest sense, combined with a pragmatic and constructive approach to educational matters. For both, the love of what was the finest in the culture was inextricably tied to a desire for its preservation and dissemination. They were married in 1961 and together created a graciously urbane yet unaffected home-life and milieu in which they dispensed generous hospitality which many were to enjoy and remember over the years.

With the appearance of the first volumes of the Encyclopædia Iranica their joint vision of a monumental work both to record the achievements of the Persian heritage and to contribute to its continuing vitality by encouraging new lines of inquiry and fresh reappraisals became a reality. The success of this arduous venture made them even more determined to continue towards its completion. Together they established in 1983 the Persian Heritage Foundation, in order to ensure that work on the Encyclopædia and other major projects which Dr. Yarshater had initiated with her unflinching support would continue in the future, and later they bequeathed their estate to the Encyclopaedia Iranica. At a time when, in spite of current financial constraints on bold and innovative scholarly projects, the Encyclopædia is set firmly on its course and its unique contribution recognized worldwide, her irreparable loss is even more poignantly felt by those who have known her crucial but unobtrusive contribution towards this very success.


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