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A History of the Syrian Community of Grand Rapids, 1890-1945 (hardback)


From the Beqaa to the Grand


This book provides the first history of the old Syrian community of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1890-1945, focusing on the slow process of ethnic acculturation during which community members developed a hybrid culture. Unlike some Middle Eastern immigrant groups, these Syrians were able to maintain their identity by establishing their own churches, which still exist today. At every opportunity this group is situated within the larger historical context, the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the French Mandate in Syria, the Progressive Movement, the Americanization program of the 1920s, the Great Depression and the two world wars.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-61719-028-5
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Feb 6,2013
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 168
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-61719-028-5
$163.00
$114.10

From the Beqaa to the Grand provides the first history of the old Syrian community of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1890-1945. The study focuses on the slow process of ethnic acculturation during which members of the community developed a hybrid culture, drawing on elements of the old and the new.
Orthodox Christians from neighboring villages in the Beqaa Valley made up the large majority of this community. Unlike some Middle Eastern immigrant groups, these Syrians were able to maintain their identity by establishing their own churches, which still exist today. A small number of Syrian Muslims also resided in the city from almost the beginning of immigration, and a chapter detailing this group is included.
The book begins with a discussion of conditions in the homeland that encouraged emigration during the two decades prior to World War I. As the Syrians settled into Grand Rapids, they became peddlers or worked in the local furniture factories. Their children and grandchildren became prominent businessmen and professionals, dentists and lawyers, contributing in vital ways to life in Michigan’s second city.
At every opportunity this group is situated within the larger context, relating how national and international developments, the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the French Mandate in Syria, the Progressive Movement, the Americanization program of the 1920s, the Great Depression and the two world wars, impacted its members. This history is enriched with material drawn from a 2006 visit to Lebanon and a stay in the villages from which most of the immigrants came.

From the Beqaa to the Grand provides the first history of the old Syrian community of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1890-1945. The study focuses on the slow process of ethnic acculturation during which members of the community developed a hybrid culture, drawing on elements of the old and the new.
Orthodox Christians from neighboring villages in the Beqaa Valley made up the large majority of this community. Unlike some Middle Eastern immigrant groups, these Syrians were able to maintain their identity by establishing their own churches, which still exist today. A small number of Syrian Muslims also resided in the city from almost the beginning of immigration, and a chapter detailing this group is included.
The book begins with a discussion of conditions in the homeland that encouraged emigration during the two decades prior to World War I. As the Syrians settled into Grand Rapids, they became peddlers or worked in the local furniture factories. Their children and grandchildren became prominent businessmen and professionals, dentists and lawyers, contributing in vital ways to life in Michigan’s second city.
At every opportunity this group is situated within the larger context, relating how national and international developments, the decline of the Ottoman Empire, the French Mandate in Syria, the Progressive Movement, the Americanization program of the 1920s, the Great Depression and the two world wars, impacted its members. This history is enriched with material drawn from a 2006 visit to Lebanon and a stay in the villages from which most of the immigrants came.

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Contributor Biography

James Goode

James F. Goode is professor of history at Grand Valley State University and former director of its Middle East Studies program. He received his PhD from Indiana University. He has published extensively on American foreign relations and the Middle East.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • Preface (page 7)
  • I. The Long Journey (page 13)
  • II. Doing Business in America (page 41)
  • III. Upon This Rock (page 63)
  • IV. The Family First (page 83)
  • V. A Muslim Minority (page 105)
  • VI. A Community Transformed (page 119)
  • VII. Fading Memories (page 141)
  • Acknowledgements (page 151)
  • Select Bibliography (page 153)
  • Index (page 159)
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