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Assyrian Oral Histories collection

 Collection — Box: 1 of 1
Identifier: ASSYR-OH-001-CaTurCSU

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.


  • 1979-1987


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

45 Digital Files

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Repository Details

Part of the California State University Stanislaus Special Collections and University Archives Repository

University Library
One University Circle
Turlock CA 95382 United States