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Profiles

The backbone of this project is from an online article, Lebanese americans, by Paula Hajar and J. Sydney Jones. (See links below).

Overview

The earliest immigrants from the Eastern Mediterranean were generally lumped together under the common rubric of Syrian-Lebanese, and it is consequently difficult to separate the number of ethnic Lebanese immigrants from ethnic Syrian immigrants. Neither of these countries came into being as nation-states until the mid-twentieth century; thus records and statistics for both groups are generally combined for early immigration patterns. Such difficulties with early immigration records are further exacerbated because of religious affiliation, both Muslim as well as myriad Christian denominations, which cut across national and ethnic lines in the region.

Early Lebanese settlers in America came mostly from Beirut, Mount Hermon, and surrounding regions of present-day Lebanon, a nation located at the extreme eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

THE FIRST LEBANESE IN AMERICA

Immigrants from the region of the former Greater Syria account for close to two-thirds of the estimated 2.5 million people in the United States who are of Arabic descent. Christian Lebanese were the first Arabic-speaking people to come to the Americas in large numbers. Their earliest immigration to the United States began in the late 1870s, peaked in 1914 at 9,023, dropped to a few hundred a year during World War I, and rose again during the early 
"W  herever they went, Lebanese carried with them their derbakke, as small drum held under the arm and played with the finger tips. To the beat of the derbakke and the music from their voices, they danced traditional circle and handkerchief dances." 
Saud Joseph, Where the Twain Shall Meet-Lebanese in Cortland County, (New York Folklore Quarterly, v. XX, no. 3, September, 1964). 
1920s, fluctuating between 1,600 and 5,000. Later, with the passage of the Immigration Quota Act (1929–1965), it dropped to a few hundred a year. When the second wave of Arab immigration to the United States began in the late 1960s, the descendants of the early Lebanese immigrants were in their third generation and had almost completely assimilated into mainstream America. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Arabic-speaking population of the United States began to grow again, and Lebanese Americans assumed a higher ethnic profile. 
Many factors spurred large-scale Lebanese immigration to America in the late nineteenth century. For instance, many emigrants were inspired by tales of American freedom and equality that were told by American missionaries (doctors and teachers). Also, the world fairs that took place in Philadelphia (1876), Chicago (1893), and St. Louis (1904) exposed participating Greater Syrians to Americans and American society. For the majority of Lebanese emigrants, the determining factors were economic ambition and family competition. For many Lebanese families, having a son or daughter in America became a visible mark of status. Young men were the first to emigrate, followed by young women and later wives and entire families. Some villages lost their most talented young people. Between the late 1870s and World War I (1914-1918), Lebanon lost over one quarter of its population to emigration. During World War I, it lost about another fifth to famine. Immigrants abroad played a major role in the country's postwar reconstruction and subsequent independence.

SETTLEMENT PATTERNS

Lebanese Americans have settled all over the United States. Peddlers who traveled to New England and upstate New York communities, as well as those in the Midwest and the West, often stayed on and opened general stores. Lebanese developed important communities in Utica, New York; Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield, Massachusetts; Fall River, Rhode Island; and Danbury, Connecticut. They also settled in New Orleans, Louisiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan; and Toledo, Ohio. Some of the largest concentrations of Lebanese Americans are found in the Northeast and Midwest. Detroit has one of the largest Lebanese American communities in the country, and there are new communities in Los Angeles and Houston.

Acculturation and Assimilation

The first Lebanese who came to America were considered exotic—their baggy pants (  shirwal  ) and fezzes made them stand out even among other immigrants. Later, when enclave living and the ubiquitous peddler made immigrants from Greater Syria a visible presence, attitudes toward them darkened. During a Senate debate on immigration quotas in 1929, Senator David Reed of Pennsylvania referred to Syrian-Lebanese as the "trash of the Mediterranean." Working as peddlers allowed Lebanese immigrants to meet regularly with other Americans, and helped them to quickly absorb the English language and American culture. Service in the American armed forces during World Wars I and II also hastened the assimilation of Lebanese Americans. Many Lebanese American women worked in war-related industries during World War II, which hastened their assimilation into American culture. By the end of World War II, it was not uncommon for Lebanese American women to work outside the home or family business. Lebanese Americans worked hard to assimilate rapidly into mainstream American society. Many Anglicized their names, joined Western churches, and focused their energies on becoming financially successful.

The backbone of this project is from an online article, Lebanese americans, by Paula Hajar and J. Sydney Jones. (See links below).

Overview

The earliest immigrants from the Eastern Mediterranean were generally lumped together under the common rubric of Syrian-Lebanese, and it is consequently difficult to separate the number of ethnic Lebanese immigrants from ethnic Syrian immigrants. Neither of these countries came into being as nation-states until the mid-twentieth century; thus records and statistics for both groups are generally combined for early immigration patterns. Such difficulties with early immigration records are further exacerbated because of religious affiliation, both Muslim as well as myriad Christian denominations, which cut across national and ethnic lines in the region.

Early Lebanese settlers in America came mostly from Beirut, Mount Hermon, and surrounding regions of present-day Lebanon, a nation located at the extreme eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea.

THE FIRST LEBANESE IN AMERICA

Immigrants from the region of the former Greater Syria account for close to two-thirds of the estimated 2.5 million people in the United States who are of Arabic descent. Christian Lebanese were the first Arabic-speaking people to come to the Americas in large numbers. Their earliest immigration to the United States began in the late 1870s, peaked in 1914 at 9,023, dropped to a few hundred a year during World War I, and rose again during the early 
"W  herever they went, Lebanese carried with them their derbakke, as small drum held under the arm and played with the finger tips. To the beat of the derbakke and the music from their voices, they danced traditional circle and handkerchief dances." 
Saud Joseph, Where the Twain Shall Meet-Lebanese in Cortland County, (New York Folklore Quarterly, v. XX, no. 3, September, 1964). 
1920s, fluctuating between 1,600 and 5,000. Later, with the passage of the Immigration Quota Act (1929–1965), it dropped to a few hundred a year. When the second wave of Arab immigration to the United States began in the late 1960s, the descendants of the early Lebanese immigrants were in their third generation and had almost completely assimilated into mainstream America. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Arabic-speaking population of the United States began to grow again, and Lebanese Americans assumed a higher ethnic profile. 
Many factors spurred large-scale Lebanese immigration to America in the late nineteenth century. For instance, many emigrants were inspired by tales of American freedom and equality that were told by American missionaries (doctors and teachers). Also, the world fairs that took place in Philadelphia (1876), Chicago (1893), and St. Louis (1904) exposed participating Greater Syrians to Americans and American society. For the majority of Lebanese emigrants, the determining factors were economic ambition and family competition. For many Lebanese families, having a son or daughter in America became a visible mark of status. Young men were the first to emigrate, followed by young women and later wives and entire families. Some villages lost their most talented young people. Between the late 1870s and World War I (1914-1918), Lebanon lost over one quarter of its population to emigration. During World War I, it lost about another fifth to famine. Immigrants abroad played a major role in the country's postwar reconstruction and subsequent independence.

SETTLEMENT PATTERNS

Lebanese Americans have settled all over the United States. Peddlers who traveled to New England and upstate New York communities, as well as those in the Midwest and the West, often stayed on and opened general stores. Lebanese developed important communities in Utica, New York; Boston, Lawrence, Lowell, and Springfield, Massachusetts; Fall River, Rhode Island; and Danbury, Connecticut. They also settled in New Orleans, Louisiana; Jacksonville, Florida; Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan; and Toledo, Ohio. Some of the largest concentrations of Lebanese Americans are found in the Northeast and Midwest. Detroit has one of the largest Lebanese American communities in the country, and there are new communities in Los Angeles and Houston.

Acculturation and Assimilation

The first Lebanese who came to America were considered exotic—their baggy pants (  shirwal  ) and fezzes made them stand out even among other immigrants. Later, when enclave living and the ubiquitous peddler made immigrants from Greater Syria a visible presence, attitudes toward them darkened. During a Senate debate on immigration quotas in 1929, Senator David Reed of Pennsylvania referred to Syrian-Lebanese as the "trash of the Mediterranean." Working as peddlers allowed Lebanese immigrants to meet regularly with other Americans, and helped them to quickly absorb the English language and American culture. Service in the American armed forces during World Wars I and II also hastened the assimilation of Lebanese Americans. Many Lebanese American women worked in war-related industries during World War II, which hastened their assimilation into American culture. By the end of World War II, it was not uncommon for Lebanese American women to work outside the home or family business. Lebanese Americans worked hard to assimilate rapidly into mainstream American society. Many Anglicized their names, joined Western churches, and focused their energies on becoming financially successful.