The University Record, April 15, 1997

Flint library gets grant for Arab-American materials

By Amy Trottier

The Earhart Foundation has awarded the Frances Willson Thompson Library at U-M Flint a $5,000 grant to establish an archive of documentary materials from the Arab-American community in Mi chigan. The library will be seeking materials that document the experience of immigrants from Arab-speaking regions of the world. Those materials will include private and public correspondence, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, pamphlets, newsletters, l eaflets, and association archives. These documents, either the originals or copies, will be deposited in the Genesee Historical Collections Center of the library.

"The purpose of the archives is to preserve for future generations the multi-faceted contributions, enriching experiences, and living memories of the Arab-American community in Michigan and to make them accessible to scholars, students, and t he public," says Joseph Rahme, assistant professor of history.

"The three campuses of the University of Michigan are located in the midst of the largest population of Arabic-speaking and Arab-descended peoples outside the Middle East," notes Library Director Robert Houbeck.

The materials will be cataloged and made available to scholars and students studying the Arab-American community. The library plans to create a Web page describing the project and the contents of the archives that will be linked to the library's home page. Records for materials in the collection will be accessible to scholars worldwide through the library's online MIRLYN catalog.

The grant is the result of the work of a committee of Flint faculty and students, and the members of the local Arab-American community. Members of the community committee include Hani Bawardi, Jack Hamady, Hadi Cadre, Anthony Mansour, Rahme, Ghas san Saab, and Sylvia Sophiea. The committee is chaired by Houbeck. U-M-Flint archivist Paul Gifford will process and catalog the collection. Funds from the grant also will support transcriptions of videotaped interviews with local residents. The oral histories are being collected by Bawardi as the basis for his master's thesis.