Arab immigrants from the Eastern Mediterranean—mainly those from what is now Syria and Lebanon—began settling in the Boston area in the 1880s. Overwhelmingly Christian, these Arab newcomers left an ailing silk industry and a declining agricultural sector as well as a growing burden of taxation and conscription under the Ottoman Empire. Many of them came from the mountainous areas of northern Lebanon (then called Mount Lebanon) around Bsharri and Zahle as well as from Damascus.
Initially, male sojourners made up the bulk of the migrant population, with many returning to their homeland after a few years. By the early twentieth century, however, women and children had joined the migrant stream, and many Syrian families settled permanently in Massachusetts. Younger women and widows, in fact, were sometimes the first to migrate in their families and helped bring other relatives over. At the time, Boston had the second largest Syrian community in the United States after New York.
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2017 SPJ Award
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