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The Experiences of of Musa Dagh Armenian Immigrants in the United States, 1900-1950
Ararat-Eskijian Museum and National Association for Armenian Studies and Research
The Experiences of of Musa Dagh Armenian Immigrants
in the United States, 1900-1950

A Lecture by
Prof. Vahram L. Shemmassian
Director, Armenian Studies Program,
California State University, Northridge

Armenian emigration from Musa Dagh to the United States began in earnest in the early twentieth century, peaking after the 1908 Young Turk Revolution and the massacres in Cilicia and northern Syria the following year. Additional numbers arrived in the New World from the refugee camp at Port Said, Egypt, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, during 1915-16. Emigration from Musa Dagh proper resumed after World War I in 1919.

Most immigrants settled on the East Coast, especially in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida, with only some going to California. They found employment in the silk mills, food industry, and various other professions. A few opened their own businesses.

The distance between the adopted country and the native soil did not prevent the newcomers from maintaining strong bonds with the latter place. They networked with one another, kept the traditions alive, and continued to communicate in their distinct dialect.

Integration, however, was inevitable. Through schools, clubs, churches, and voluntary associations the immigrants segued into the American scene. Like other Armenian Americans, they joined the U.S. armed forces during World WarII. As for the next generation, many among them married non-Armenians, thereby signaling the start of assimilation.

Dr. Vahram Shemmassian is Associate Professor of Armenian and Director of the Armenian Studies Pro-gram at California State University, Northridge. He holds a Ph.D. from UCLA and is a leading authority on the Armenians of Musa Dagh. He was awarded the "William Saroyan Medal" from the Ministry of Diaspora, Republic of Armenia.


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