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 Ave.at
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.