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About this collection

The Faris and Yamna Naff Arab American Collection is the result of research conducted by Dr. Alixa Naff on the early Arab immigrant experience in the United States from about 1880 through World War II. The study began with oral history interviews in 1962 and became a major project in 1980 with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It documents the assimilation of Arabic speaking immigrants in the United States, and formed the basis for Dr. Naff's book, Becoming American: The Early Arab Immigrant Experience. The full collection is housed at the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution. 

Link to the Faris and Yamna Naff Arab American Collection Finding Aid at the National Museum of American History.

Dr. Alixa Naff with her collection at the Smithsonian

 

Digitization through Collaboration

In an effort to increase access to and ensure long-term preservation of these seminal materials on Arab American history, the Arab American National Museum has collaborated with the Archives Center to digitize the original oral histories completed in 1962. 

 

How to Use This Collection

This online collection consists of 74 digital audio files and 24 PDF files of interview notes. To preserve the original order of the collection, the audio files are direct copies of the original reel-to-reel tapes. Many files contain more than one interview, and many interviews are spread across multiple tapes. Some, but not all, interviews have accompanying notes, which should not be considered direct transcripts. To aid researchers, metadata accompanying each file will include a description of the original tape contents, and will be tagged with each interviewee's name, if known. These tags can be used to find other files with the same interviewee. Click HERE to view a full list of participants with links to related audio recordings and notes.

As the interviews focused on first and second generation Arab Americans, both English and Arabic are spoken. Many interviews are entirely in Arabic. Languages spoken will be noted for each interview in the accompanying metadata. 

Access copies of all digitized audio are available at both the Arab American National Museum and the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History.

Limited documentation was available for the processing of the collection, and the AANM cannot guarantee the accuracy of the accompanying metadata. It is the responsibility of the researcher to verify names and dates if needed. Corrections, questions and additional information about the collection can be directed to Curator of Collections Elyssa Bisoski at ebisoski@accesscommunity.org.

Rights to the collection are owned by the National Museum of American History. Users with questions and requests regarding usage should contact the Archives Center at archivescenter@si.edu.

 

This initiative was made possible by generous contributions from the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation, Russell J. Ebeid and individual donors dedicated to the preservation of Arab American history.

 

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