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Arab American Archival Index

Welcome to the Arab American Archival Collection Index.
The goal of this index is to help facilitate discovery of materials related to Arab Americans, a community for which collections are scattered across many different institutions with no single tags or search terms linking them.

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Preserving Arab American History

Due to the diverse nature of the Arab American community, especially the myriad ways that Arabs in the U.S. have self-identified throughout the last 100 years (including by nationality, such as Lebanese, Syrian, or Iraqi; or by broader geographic terms, such as Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, or North African), it is not possible to simply type “Arab American” into search engines, like WorldCat for instance, and receive exhaustive results for related archival holdings.

There are very few institutions in the United States dedicated to preserving the archival record of the Arab American community. But the size and scope of the community, which reaches back to the 1880s and across the entire continent, means that there must be many “hidden” archival collections in local libraries, historical societies and at university-based special collections. We also know from the existing record that Arabic-speaking immigrants were quick to establish houses of worship, social clubs, businesses, and newspapers in almost every city they settled in. But even as historians and other scholars find the traces of these institutions in scattered archival holdings, there exists no systematized manner of cataloging and making discoverable the record of these Arabic-speaking communities. This index is not meant to be exhaustive, but is meant to help address this gap.

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Last updated August 2020

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