The History of Arab, North African and Middle Eastern People in Oklahoma

People from the Middle East first settled in Oklahoma in the late 19th century, often coming in search of entrepreneurial opportunities. It was common for them initially to peddle goods, learn English, and build retail and wholesale businesses.
BY DAVID CHRISTOPHER
Staff Writer
Modified: June 25, 2010 at 12:22 pm •  Published: June 25, 2010
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People from the Middle East first settled in Oklahoma in the late 19th century, often coming in search of entrepreneurial opportunities.

It was common for them initially to peddle goods, learn English, and build retail and wholesale businesses.


By 1900, a hundred “Syrians” were included in the area’s census. These early arrivals in turn often sponsored their relatives to join them.

The majority of early Middle Eastern immigrants came to Oklahoma from one small town in southeastern Lebanon called Jediedat Marjeoun.

By the 1920 census, 671 “Syrians” were reported in Oklahoma, spread across 42 counties.

After World War II, the standard of educational achievement rose among Middle Eastern immigrants, some of whom came to study in Oklahoma and stayed after marrying an Oklahoman.

While Middle Eastern immigrants up until World War II had generally been Christian, there have been more Muslim immigrants from the region since that time.

This has led to the establishment of a number of mosques in Oklahoma and two Islamic schools.

Source: The Oklahoma Historical Society’s Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. See the full article here http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/M/MI007.html

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