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(including those of ancestral descent)
|Regions with significant populations|
|New York · New Jersey · North Carolina · Wisconsin · Ohio · Illinois · Indiana · Florida · Maryland|
Early Turkish immigrants to the United States were predominantly from Turkey's rural community. They settled in large, industrial cities and found employment as unskilled laborers. The majority came to economically support their families in Turkey where economy suffered severely from the last World War. After the 1950s, a well-skilled and highly educated group immigrated to the United States, the majority being medical doctors, engineers, and scientists. Today, Turkish Americans are visible in virtually every community and walk of life.
Pre World War I: Ottoman Immigration
Significant data shows an astounding number of sixteenth-century Mediterranean Sea clashes between the Ottoman fleets and the Portuguese. Many Turkish and Moorish seamen ended up as Portuguese galley slaves bound for the Canary Islands and the New World. The presence of Turks in the Americas dates to the 17th century. Ottoman mariners and prisoners of war forced to slave labor on numerous Spanish galleons, have also allegedly escaped when some of these ships were werecked near American shores and settled among Indians. Some Melungeon researchers claim Melungeons descend from these Ottomans. However, there is little authoritative evidence for this link claim. The myth of Sir Francis Drake leaving a large number of Turks on Roanoke Island in 1586 has been thoroughly debunked. It is also known that during the American Civil War, Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid, in support of the North had sent a symbolic camel caravan of material and goods and many of the Turks who came with this shipment settled down in the Michigan area.
From the 1820s until 1920 over 1.2 million people from the Ottoman Empire immigrated to North America. Approximately 15% of these immigrants (roughly 200,000) were Muslims, including about 50,000 ethnic Turks. Many ethnic Turks from Harput, Elâzığ, Akçadağ, Antep and Macedonia embarked for the Americas from Beirut, Mersin, Izmir, Trabzon and Salonica but declared themselves as Syrians or even Armenians in order to avoid discrimination and gain easy access at the port of entry.
The largest number of ethnic Turks appear to have entered the United States prior to World War I, roughly between 1900 and 1914 when American immigration policies were quite liberal. The Ottoman entry into World War I put an end to the Ottoman emigration to the United States. However, a fairly large number of ethnic Turks from the Balkan provinces of Albania, Kosovo, Western Thrace, and Bulgaria emigrated and settled in the United States. They were listed as Albanians, Bulgarians and Serbians according to their country of origin, even though many of them were ethnically Turkish and identified themselves as such. Moreover, many immigrant families who were ethnically Albanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Macedonian or Serbian included children of Turkish origin whose parents had been cleansed after Macedonia was partitioned between Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece following the Balkan War of 1912-13. These Turkish children had been sheltered, baptised and adopted, and then used as field laborers. When the adopting families had to emigrate to America, they listed these children as family members, but most of these Turkish children still remembered their origin.
However, upon knowledge of the allied occupation of Istanbul and Greek occupation of Izmir, fights broke out between Turks and Greeks in factories and streets and about half of the Turkish community in the United States returned to Turkey to participate in the Turkish War for Independence.
A second exodus of Turks occurred during the Great Depression. Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk sent Turkish ships to America, offering free passage home to any Turk who would leave, so many Turks took up the offer and returned to Turkey. Another wave of migration came right after World War II when the United States passed the Alien Registration Act. After this date, especially more elite Turks, academics and professionals, migrated to the United States for better educational and economic opportunities. Along with the brain drain immigrants, many working class Turks also settled in the United States. A brief history of the Turkish presence in the United States can be found at AmerikadakiTurk.
Most Turks who first came to the United States were rural, illiterate and poor but showed a remarkable degree of ethnic solidarity and sought to preserve their traditions. Most Ottoman migrants to North America belonged to low income groups and their main gaol was to work for a number of years in any job, without becoming a part of the country, and to save enough money to buy land and houses upon returning to their homeland. The rate of returnees among Ottoman Turks was very high; with more than half of the Muslims returning back to their native lands.
One factor compelling ethnic Turks to return home was the lack of suitable Muslim women for them to marry in the United States. The great majority of Turkish immigrants at the time were men; only a few brought their wives and families. Moreover, those Turks who did marry non-Muslim women were assimilated into American culture and thus the number of Turks who survived culturally as Turks in America was very low. Those who maintained a degree of their ethnic identity did so either because they had formed their own small communities, or were gathered around a makeshift mosque, or had enough of an education and strength of personality and willpower to preserve their identity as Turks. Most Turks looked upon America as a culturally alien land where they had been driven by sheer necessity and where they wanted to stay as little time as possible. Consequently they refused to strike permanent roots, build mosques, and establish their own communities as Muslims. At the stat of the First World War the Turks ethnic identity was just beginning to differentiate itself from their basic Islamic identity and they, therefore, found it difficult to understand how one could be a Turk and a Muslim and live in a predominantly Christian country.
Post World War I: Early Turkish Immigration
Post World War II: Late Turkish Immigration
Thousands of Turkish doctors, engineers, and other technicians came to America for training, and a number of them stayed on, becoming immigrants. The estimates of this brain drain from Turkey for the years 1948-80 range between ten and twenty-five thousand people. Although a large number of professionals returned to Turkey, a significant number took advantage of the quota system, which gave priority to professionals whose skills were needed in the United States. The same was true for a large number of capable students who took advanced degrees (M.As, PhDs) in various branches of learning and were offered attractive positions in U.S academia, industry and business management. The number of Turkish students in the United States varied between 800-2,000 per year and about 10-15% of Turkish students obtaining postgraduate degrees stayed permanently in the United States and received the green card; five years later they could receive U.S. citizenship. Eventually Turkey also accepted dual citizenship and many Turks who had become U.S. citizens and cut off their ties to Turkey then renewed their interest in their old society. The difference between these port-World War II immigrants and their Ottoman predecessors is evident in key areas, such as the definition of identity, level of education and income, and social position. The new wave of immigrants not only identified themselves from the beginning as Turks but also defended and promoted the cultural and political aspects of their Turkishness in an open and direct fashion, either individually or as organized groups. Their education and income placed these early professionals turned immigrants at a social level far above both the destitute, largely uneducated and ignored Ottoman immigrants and the average American.
Turkish immigration to the United States underwent another qualitative transformation beginning in the mid-1970s as the result of various unrelated factors, such as the rising interest in business, the lack of employment opportunities in Turkey, the proliferation of well-trained professionals, and political-ideological conflicts. During this period the number of legal and illegal immigrants from Turkey to the United States began to increase steadily. So too did the number of ethnic Turks born in the USSR and Balkan countries, who took advantage of the protection offered by the United States to people escaping from behind the Iron Curtain. However, the overwhelming majority of Turks who came to America after 1970 still had been born and educated in Turkey and shared the common political culture of the Turkish republic, its values and its identity.
The Turkish immigrants arriving after the mid-1970s consisted mostly of professionals, including engineers, economists, and teachers, whose numbers tended to increase while the number of incoming doctors was decreasing by a series of new qualifications requested by American medical authorities. The new Turkish immigrants also included many small businessmen, artisans and skilled workers, as well as unskilled laborers who found employment in a variety of occupations such as construction and building maintenance. A number of these latter immigrants, following the American interest in ethnic cuisines, began to opened restaurants serving Turkish food.
Since the 1970s, the number of Turkish immigrants has risen to more than 2,000 per year. Members of this most recent immigrant group vary widely. Many opened small businesses in the United States and created Turkish American organizations, thus developing Turkish enclaves, particularly in New York City. Still others came for educational purposes.
According to the 2000 US census, there are 117,575 Americans (and to 2005 American Community Survey there are 164,945) of full or partial Turkish descent. From the beginning of Turkish immigration to the United States, many Turks have settled in or around large urban centers. The greatest number have settled in Paterson, New York City (mostly in Brooklyn), Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and Rochester. Other concentrations of Turkish Americans may be found along the East Coast in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland and Virginia; and some have ventured into California (esp. Los Angeles), Minnesota, Indiana, Texas, Florida and Alabama.
Little Arabia is a neighborhood in Paterson, New Jersey which is sometimes called Little İstanbul because of its large number of Turks. Paterson has always been home to immigrants looking to make a start in the new world. Today, the faces are largely of immigrants from the Islamic World. South Paterson is bordered by Madison Avenue to the north, Crooks Avenue to the south, Hazel Street to the west, and East Railway Avenue to the east.
The Turkish American community is becoming more close-knit as their social life is revolved around coffee houses and benevolent societies. In Peabody, Massachusetts, coffee houses on Walnut Street became a congregating place for the Turks living in the area. It was here the community members exchange news about their villages while sipping Turkish coffee and noshing on sweet pastry. The Boston metropolitan area has been an area of choice for late 20th century Turkish immigration.
The top US communities with the highest percentage of people claiming Turkish ancestry in 2000 are:
|Community||Place type||% Turkish|
|Edgewater Park, NJ||township||1.9|
|Goldens Bridge, NY||populated place||1.6|
|Point Lookout, NY||populated place||1.4|
|Bellerose Terrace, NY||populated place||1.3|
|Cliffside Park, NJ||borough||1.3|
|Franksville, WI||populated place||1.3|
|Bay Harbor Islands, FL||town||1.2|
|Herricks, NY||populated place||1.2|
|Highland Beach, FL||town||1.2|
|Friendship Village, MD||populated place||1.2|
|New Egypt, NJ||populated place||1.1|
|Trumbull County, Ohio||township||1.1|
Individual and group contributions
Turkish Americans have made numerous contributions to American society, particularly in the fields of education, medicine, arts and science.
Tunç Yalman, artistic director of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, and Osmar Karakas, who was awarded the 1991 National Press Award for the best news photograph, have contributed significantly to the arts.
Perhaps the most successful Turkish name associated with music outside of Turkey and in the United States is Atlantic Records' founder, Ahmet Ertegün. His promotion of some of the most famous R&B and soul artists in North America and contribution to the American music industry has earned him a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together with his brother Nesuhi Ertegün. Arif Mardin is another major popular music producer and arranger in America. Ertegun's clients included the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, the Bee Gees, Carly Simon, Roberta Flack, and Bette Midler. After briefly meeting Ahmet Ertegün at the Newport Jazz Festival, he joined Atlantic Records and served as their Vice President until his death.
Turkish American organizations have primarily tried to promote the Turkish culture as well as Turkey’s position in international affairs and have generally supported the positions taken by the Turkish regime. They have been lobbying for Turkey's entry into the European Union and other Western European forums for cooperation. They have also defended Turkish involvement in Cyprus. In addition, they have refuted efforts of Armenian Americans to expose atrocities from the 1920s as well as their attempts to have atrocities officially condemned. Turkish Americans have also expressed concerns about the Greek lobby in the United States undermining the typically good Turkish-American relations.
Mehmet Oz (Turkish: Mehmet Cengiz Öz) (born June 11, 1960) is a Turkish-American cardiothoracic surgeon and author. He has made frequent appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as appearances on Larry King, CNN, and other networks.
Feza Gursey (1921–1993) was the J. Willard Gibbs Professor Emeritus of Physics at Yale University. He contributed major studies on the group structure of elementary particles and the symmetries of interactions. Professor Gursoy helped bridge the gap between physicists and mathematicians at Yale. He was the winner of the prestigious Oppenheimer Prize and Wigner Medal.
Muzafer Sherif (born July 29, 1906, in Odemis, Izmir, Turkey – died October 16, 1988, in Fairbanks, Alaska) was one of the founders of social psychology. He helped develop social judgment theory and realistic conflict theory.
Turkish Radio and TV Broadcasts in the U.S.A.
- Ebru TV - broadcasts educational programs about sciences, art, and culture as well as news and sports events. Can be watched online: 
- The Young Turks- Is the first ever Internet TV news show, which is hosted by Turkish American Cenk Uygur. The video of the show is streamed daily on their website, and available for podcast.
- Turkish American Hour - Turkish American Hour - English program produced by TATV (Turkish-American TV).Home based in Fairfax Public Access, VA and re-broadcasted in Maryland and DC. 
- Turk Amerikan Televizyonu - Turkish program produced by TATV (Turkish-American TV).Home based in Fairfax Public Access, VA and re-broadcasted in Maryland and DC. 
- Turkish Hour TV Show - Entirety of the USA. Monday through Sunday.
- Voice of Anatolia TV - WNYE Channel 25, Sundays at 3:30 PM to 4PM (Can be received off the air in the NYC metropolitan area, also everyday from 7:30 to 8 PM on cable Channel 57 in some NYC boroughs.)
- ATV News - SCOLA channel cable TV, Monday-Friday 11 to 12 AM EDT, Saturdays 7 to 8 PM EDT (taped). For more info call Savas Suzal (703) 425-3846 or (703) 764-1443, or fax to (703) 425-3453.
- Turkish Hour - Cultural Cable Channel, Ch. 50 on Cox Cable in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mondays 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays7:00 - 8:00 p.m. Sundays 9:30 - 10:30 p.m. An ITVFC Program.
- Turkish Hour - Channels 7 & 10 on Warner Cable System, Cincinnati, OH. Mondays 8:30 pm (Ch. 7) Thursdays 2:00 pm (Ch. 10) Sundays 11:00 am (Ch. 10) Sponsored by Tri-State Turkish American Association.
- Voice of Turkey - ICAT Channel 15 (Cable) in Rochester, NY Wednesdays & Saturdays 8 pm -10 pm by Ahmet Turgut.
Turkish Newspapers and Periodicals in the U.S.A.
- The Turkish Times- a weekly newspaper of the Assembly of Turkish American Associations which covers Turkish American issues with news articles, editorials, and business information.
- Turk of America- first Turkish American bi-monthly business magazine
- Turkish Daily News- Turkey's English-language newspaper
- Today's Zaman- a daily newspaper which covers Turkish American issues with news articles,editorials, and business information.
Organizations and associations
- Turkish Cultural Center (TCC) The Turkish Cultural Center is located in the heart of New York City. The Center is an institution committed to community involvement. The organization hopes to be a forum of international cultural exchange while promoting Turkish Cultural Heritage. www.turkishculturalcenter.org
- Istanbul Center (IC) The Istanbul Center is located in the Atlanta, GA. The Center is the largest Turkish-American organization in the Southeastern United States. promote a better understanding and closer relations between individuals and communities, building bridges between the Turkish, American and other communities in Atlanta and the Southeastern United States.
- American Turkish Friendship Council (ATFC)- is devoted to increasing understanding of commercial, defense, and cultural issues involving the United States and Turkey.
- Raindrop Turkish House was established in 2000 in Houston, Texas and operates in 6 states: Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Raindrop Foundation aims to introduce Turkish culture into American society and cultivate friendship and promote the understanding of diverse cultures through its unique services to the community, through dialog and corporation.
- American Turkish Society (ATS) was founded in 1949, and has a membership of 400 American and Turkish diplomats, banks, corporations, businessmen, and educators. It promotes economic and commercial relations as well as cultural understanding between the people of the United States and Turkey.
- Assembly of Turkish American Associations was founded in 1979, and has approximately 10,500 members and coordinates activities of regional associations for the purpose of presenting an objective view of Turkey and Turkish Americans and enhancing understanding between these two groups.
- Federation of Turkish-American Associations (FTAA) was founded in 1956 and composed of about 30 local organizations of Turkish Americans, it works to advance educational interests and to maintain and preserve knowledge of Turkey's cultural heritage.
- Turkish American Association (TAA) was founded in 1965, and has approximately 15,000 members and promotes cultural relations between the United States and Turkey.
- Turkish Women's League of America (TWLA)was founded in 1958, and comprises Americans of Turkish origin united to promote equality and justice for women.
- Turkish American Cultural Alliance (TACA) founded in 1968
- Turkish Cultural Center Of Tampa Bay was established in 2006 as a 501c(3) non-profit, non-governmental organization and its activities involve not only the Turkish community but also the larger society in Tampa Bay. As country of Turkey has been a unique bridge and meeting point for European and Asian civilizations throughout history, our organization provides intercultural and interfaith dialogue and cooperation opportunities for all organizations in Tampa Bay.
- Turkish-American Scientists and Scholars Association (TASSA) was formally established on June 5, 2004
- Turkish American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TACCI) is founded in 2002. TACCI is the Turkish-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry dedicated to advance the business, commerce and industry relations between Turkey and the United States.
- Turkish American Cultural Center of Madison (TACC-Madison), unit of Turkish American Cultural Foundation of Wisconsin Inc., is a non-profit organization established in 2008 to promote a better understanding and closer relations between Turkish American Community and other communities in Madison, Wisconsin and United States.
- Lehigh Valley Turkish American Association - Association's goals include but not limited to: 1-Increase, improve, and promote public knowledge and understanding of Turkish culture, history and people 2-Foster friendship and communication among the American and Turkish communities 3-Promote the exchange of the arts, culture, music and cuisine of the United States and Turkey - http://www.lvtaa.us
- Istanbul University Alumni Association of USA (IUMEZUSA) is a non-political, non-profit organization founded in April, 2005 to promote better understanding between the American and Turkish peoples through social, educational, and cultural activities.
- Bridges of Hope Project - Provides funding to establish libraries in rural schools in Turkey
- HasNa - Provides conflict resolution through cultural understanding
- Turkish Philanthropic Fund - Helps meet community needs in the US and in Turkey
- Amity Turkish Cultural Center in jacksonville,Fl http://www.atccenter.org/
- Istanbul Turkish Center www.istanbulcenter.org
- Turkish Journal Leading exclusive Turkish-American news and researches.
- TurkishNY.com Leading Turkish-American Web Portal with news, classified ads, yellow pages, online radio, video and photo galleries.
- Turk North America (TurkNA) established in 2002 in NJ to support the Turkish community in the US, and quickly became the most visited Turkish website. It is also the largest Turkish Yahoo group.
Annual Turkish-American Day Parade In NY
- ^ U.S. Census Bureau: American FactFinder. "Selected Population Profile in the United States: Turkish". http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/IPTable?_bm=y&-reg=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201:571;ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201PR:571;ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201T:571;ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201TPR:571&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201PR&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201T&-qr_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_S0201TPR&-ds_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_&-TABLE_NAMEX=&-ci_type=A&-redoLog=true&-geo_id=01000US&-geo_id=NBSP&-format=&-_lang=en. Retrieved 2009-10-04.
- ^ U.S. Census Bureau: American FactFinder. "U.S. Census Tables". http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/DTTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-ds_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G00_&-_lang=en&-redoLog=true&-mt_name=ACS_2008_1YR_G2000_B04003&-format=&-CONTEXT=dt. Retrieved 2009-09-22.
- ^ a b Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. "Immigration and Ethnicity: Turks". http://ech.case.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=TIC. Retrieved 2008-07-09.
- ^ Assembely of Turkish American Associations. "ATAA 2008 DELEGATION TRIP TO TURKEY AND TRNC". http://www.ataa.org/press/prl_072508.html. Retrieved 2009-01-17.
- ^ Amerikadaki Turk. "Amerikadaki Turklerin Tarihi". http://www.amerikadakiturk.com/akademiSK09.html. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- ^ Ferderation of Turkish American Associations. "Baskanin". http://www.tadf.org/President.html. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- ^ Kennedy 1997, 130.
- ^ Winkler 2005, 213.
- ^ Karpat 2004, 614.
- ^ a b c Karpat 2004, 615.
- ^ a b c d Karpat 2004, 617.
- ^ a b Karpat 2004, 618.
- ^ a b c Karpat 2004, 621.
- ^ Karpat 2004, 622.
- ^ a b c d Karpat 2004, 623.
- ^ Turkish Americans
- ^ Stephan Thernstrom, Ann Orlov, Oscar Handlin (1980). Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups. Harvard University Press. pp. 994. ISBN 0674375122, 9780674375123. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=npQ6Hd3G4kgC&pg=PA994&dq=turkish+americans#PPA994,M1.
- ^ Epodunk.. "Turkish Ancestry by city". http://www.epodunk.com/ancestry/Turkish.html. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
- ^ a b c Koslowski 2004, 39.
- ^ Aydın & Erhan 2004, 205-206.
- ^ Harpo Productions and Sony Pictures Television To Launch Dr. Oz, Oprah.com, June 13, 2008.
- Aydın, Mustafa; Erhan, Çağrı (2004), [Expression error: Missing operand for > Turkish-American Relations: Past, Present and Future], Routledge, ISBN 0714652733 .
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- Kaya, Ilhan (October 2004). [Expression error: Missing operand for > "Turkish-American immigration history and identity formations"]. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 24 (2): 295–308. doi:10.1080/1360200042000296672.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Turkish Americans|
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