Assyrian Oral Histories collection
Scope and Contents
The Assyrian Oral History collection chronicles the stories of members of an Assyrian enclave in Turlock, California. The majority of stories were recorded in the early 1980s with interviewees recounting family histories extending back to the early part of the 20th century. According to Dr. Arianne Ishaya, preliminary research on this project began in the 1970s while she was working on her Ph.D. dissertation at UCLA. From 1981-1982, Dr. Ishaya conducted 108 interviews with members of the enclave on their family histories.
Dr. Ishaya has identified several characteristics of the enclave from her research: The initial colony came from Canada to Turlock in 1910. During the 1920s, several refugees from Iran arrived following the WWI Assyrian genocide. Assyrian Americans from the East Coast and Midwest arrived from the 1940s on. In the 1970s, refugees escaped the purging of their villages in Northern Iraq, the historic homeland of Assyrians, while refugees fleeing the Islamic revolution in Iran arrived during the 1980s.
These varied histories document stories of brutal treatment and suffering as homeless refugees, to stories of hope and finding a new life in the USA. Today the community continues to grow and thrive.
- Ishaya, Arianne, Dr. (Interviewer, Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
42 Cassettes (Tapes consist of 52 family histories, 6 interviews with Assyrian-American political leaders, 6 interviews with non-Assyrian university professors, city political leaders, or businesspeople, for a total of 64 interviews on 42 tapes and one flash drive. Also included are text transcriptions of the interviews.)
1 USB flash drive
16 Digital Files
Language of Materials
- Language of description
- Script of description