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Arab American Print Material on Display at the Immigration History Research Center Archives

By April 17, 2014September 16th, 2023No Comments

by Sara Wakefield, Reference Librarian, Immigration History Research Center Archives

In the fall of 2013, the Immigration History Research Center & Archives partnered with the University of Minnesota’s Religious Studies Program and the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI to bring their traveling exhibit, “Little Syria, NY: An Immigrant Community’s Life and Legacy” to the Andersen Library’s gallery space on the 1st and 2nd floors.

In conjunction with this exhibit, Sara Wakefield, Reference Librarian, and Hope Shinn, Student Archives Assistant, created a display of Arab American print material from the IHRC Archives. 

IHRCA 1The display includes duplicate rare books, contemporary books, serials, and photographs. The display also includes a map from the 1936 Festival of Nations Exhibit Hall in St. Paul, MN, sponsored by the International Institute of Minnesota. On their Homelands Exhibits hall map you will find a Syrian booth between the Italian and Chinese booth.

Items of interest on display are a copy of the Federation Herald of the Syrian and Lebanese American Federation of the Eastern States, April 25, 1949 edition with the headline “New Haven club rehearses for Arabic-English musical comedy May 22”. The photograph of this theater troupe and their exquisite costumes is amazing. Also on display is a copy of Sittee Saltany A’laat: a Compilation of Arabic Proverbs Grandmother Told Me by Margaret Salamey, 1982 and Prairie Peddlers: the Syrian-Lebanese in North Dakota by William Sherman, Paul Whitney, and John Guerrero, 2002.

IHRCA 2The Immigration History Research Center Archives has many rare Arab American books, serials and newspapers not displayed; registered researchers are welcome to view them in our second floor reading room. A few examples of these include the following:

Mudhakkarāt Bishārah Jirijis al-Bawārī ʻan arbaʻ saná al-ḥarb min sanat 1914-1918: hadhdhabat Idārat al-Hudá al-yawmīyah ʻibāratahā wa-tarjamat baʻḍ al-rasā ʼil wa-al-barqiyāt wa-al-taqārīr ʻan al-Faransāwīyah wa-al-Inkilīzīyah…, New York, 1926. Bishara Yirjis Biwara’s memoirs of the four war years of 1914-1918: Hadhabat’s administration of al-Hoda, its daily interpretation and translation of some letters, telegrams, and news reports from French and English.

Maʼthūrāt Franklin, New York, 1926. Selected Benjamin Franklin essays in Arabic, published by the Syrian-American Press.



IHRCA 3Kitāb Morshid Talibiy Attajanous: Guidebook for Naturalization Applicants published by Khalil Khayat, New York, circa 1910’s. Included is a dictionary of key words in English and Arabic. Below is an example of the questions and answers in English and Arabic an immigrant would be asked when applying for naturalization to the United States.

IHRCA 4Our collection also includes rare Arab American music scores like Twelve Popular Arabic Songs: Arranged for Piano in Oriental Style, New Jersey, 1938.

During the academic year of 2012-2013, the IHRC Archives processed the Francis Maria collection which added 135 new serial titles and 7 newspaper titles to our Near Eastern American periodical listing. The Maria collection transformed the IHRC Archives Arab American holdings into one of the nation’s most extensive repositories on this community and the international issues surrounding it. These materials join the already research-rich papers of scholar Philip K. Hitti, community activist and journalist James Ansara, publisher Mary Mokarzel, and others.

The display is on view through the end of May outside of the Immigration History Research Center & Archives, Andersen 311.


Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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