1112) Outposts Of An Empire: Early Turkish Migration To Peabody, Massachusetts, by Isil Acehan, Bilkent Uni

May 2005


This thesis examines early (1890s-1920s) Turkish immigration to Peabody, Massachusetts. It is a case study which argues that the most prominent factor driving early Turkish migration to Peabody was economic. Thus the migration movement constituted a “brawn drain” from Anatolia to the “streets paved with gold.” As was the case with some European peoples who immigrated to the United States at the same period, the Turkish immigrants in Peabody, Massachusetts, did not intend to stay in the United States. They only wanted to earn money and return to the homeland as soon as possible. More importantly this thesis argues that the Turkish immigrants were part of a larger Ottoman migration to the United States. The Turks in Peabody were part of a chain of migration that included Armenians, Greeks, and Sephardic Jews. They, together with the Armenians, Jews and Greeks constructed an Ottoman microcosm in Peabody essentially recreating the millets of the Ottoman Empire in which inter-communal support helped the Turks contend with the strange new environment. By the early 1930s most of the Turkish immigrants in Peabody had returned to their homeland. Overall, this thesis provides new insight into the Turkish and Ottoman diaspora that challenges popular conceptions of continual strife between the Turks and members of the other Ottoman millets. Additionally, it shows that this early Turkish immigrant community was, in some ways, strikingly similar to later twentieth century Turkish immigrant communities, such as those in Germany during the 1960s.. .

Key Words: Migration/Immigration, ABCFM, Harput, American Missionaries, Tanzimat, U.S. Censuses, 20th century

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