Collection Description

Culture Name

Arab Americans

Culture Description

Americans of Arab ancestry are a heterogeneous amalgam of national and religious subgroups. Their link is a common Middle-Eastern Arab cultural and linguistic heritage. Arab Americans live primarily in cities or adjacent suburbs. Many recent arrivals tend to gravitate to Arab ethnic neighborhoods, such as the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan. Many of the early immigrants left homes in Greater Syria. A second post-World War II wave of immigration included refugees displaced by the 1948 Palestine War. Following the June 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the 1970s and 80s witnessed a massive influx of Arab immigration to the U.S.


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North America --Regional, Ethnic and Diaspora Cultures


United States

OWC Code


Number of Documents


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication and eHRAF document number.

The Arab American file consists of thirty-one documents, all in English. The range of ethnographic coverage for the file runs from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries, with major topic coverage in nearly all the works relating to immigration, maintainence of ethnic identity, acculturation and assimilation, socio-cultural change, settlement patterns, and the adherence of Arab Americans to the Islamic religion. Although there are no specific studies in the file providing a broad comprehensive ethnographic coverage for all Arab Americans in the United States, the works by Haddad (1983, 1994, nos. 6 & 18), Suleiman (1994, no. 17), and Abraham (1994, no. 20) do provide some information on limited aspects of ethnography. In general, most of the works in this file focus on the Syrian-Lebanese populations in the United States with specific reference to their concentrations in such large urban areas as Worcester, Massachusetts (Saliba, 1992, no. 3), Boston, Massachusetts (Shakir, 1987, no. 16 and Hagopion, 1969, no. 25), Springfield, Massachusetts (Aruri, 1969, no. 26), Chicago, Illinois (Haddad, 1969, no. 24), Birmingham, Alabama (Conklin, 1987, no. 14), and Dearborn, Michigan (Wasfi, 1971, no. 23). Three of the studies in this file deal with the Palestinian population in Chicago, Illinois, with particular reference to women's roles and status. These are Cainkar (1994, 1991, 1996, nos. 19, 28, and 31). Two documents describe Yemeni settlements in Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan (Abraham, 1983, no. 8 and Aswad, 1991, no. 27). The remaining works consist of unspecified Arab American groups in various urban regions of the United States such as Toledo, Ohio (Elkholy, 1966, no. 1), Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan (Abraham, 1983, nos. 7 and 10; Sengstock, 1996, no. 29; Aswad, 1974, 1996, nos. 22 and 30), Waterville, Maine (Hooglund, 1987, no. 15), and Buffalo, New York (Shorrab, 1986, no. 21).

The culture summary is based on the article "Arab Americans" by Nabeel Abraham, in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 1, 1991. Timothy O'Leary and David Levinson, eds. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall & Co. The file synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in September 1998.

Overview by

John Beierle

'AYB -- shame, disgrace -- categories 152, 577

American Lebanese-Syrian Associated Club (ALSAC) -- category 747 (sometimes with 743)

American Moslem Society -- categories 575, 794

Arab American Community Center for Social Services (ACCESS) -- categories 748, 575

Arab American University Graduates (AAUG) -- category 664

assimilation, cultural -- category 563

business directories -- category 366

Federation of Islamic Associations -- categories 665 and 575

generations and generational differences -- category 561

Haddad Foundation -- a non-profit organization designed to administer scholar

HASANI -- benefactions pleasing to God -- category 779

Islamic Center Foundation Society -- categories 575, 794

Mhaiti Society -- a private charitable organization -- categories 747, 794, 575

Muslim Student Association -- categories 877, 575, 795, 794

Muslim World League -- categories 794, 795, 575

National Association of Arab Americans -- a political action group -- category 668

peddlers -- category 443

Progress Arab Hashimite Society -- categories 575, 794

religious clubs -- category 575 (sometimes with 794)

SHI'AH -- a Muslim religious sect -- category 795

SHEIKH -- religious leader -- category 792

Southeast Dearborn Community Council -- categories 575, 794

Sunday school -- category 794

SUNNI -- a Muslim religious sect -- category 795

suppliers of merchandise to peddlers -- category 442

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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