The IHRC is pleased to announce that the Francis Maria Foundation for Justice and Peace in Warner, NH, established an Arab American graduate fellowship fund at the IHRC. In October 2002, the IHRC received from the foundation a collection of ca.100 linear feet of archival and published materials produced and accumulated by Maria (1913-2001), one of the nation's leading spokespersons for Middle Eastern affairs in the mid-to-late 20th century and a prominent activist in Arab American community life.
The Frank Maria collection includes extensive files of correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, and more reflecting his wide-ranging career and involvement in national and international organizations. Also included are many Arab American newspapers and serials from throughout the United States as well as printed material from sources worldwide touching on subjects pertaining to the Arab world.
The Maria collection transforms the IHRC's Arab American holdings into one of the nation's most extensive repositories on this community and the international issues surrounding it. These materials join the already research-rich papers of scholar Philip K. Hitti, community activist and journalist James Ansara, publisher Mary Mokarzel, and others.
Due to the unique value of this documentation, used by researchers from around the world, its care and development require the ongoing commitment of knowledgeable staff. The Francis Maria Graduate Fellowship fund will annually support a graduate student who has research interests in the history and culture of Arabs in the United States or the Arab diaspora. (Fellowship eligiblity and application: http://ihrc.umn.edu/educators/FrancisMariaFellowship.php)
Follow the U Foundation link to make an online gift through the University of Minnesota Foundation's secure site. Type in the designation "Immigration History Research Center: Francis Maris Graduate Fellowship (Fund 6610)" in order to have your gift directed to this particular fund.
About Francis Maria...
Frank Maria was born in 1913 in Lowell, MA, the son of Syrian immigrants. His early professional career was devoted to teaching and educational administration. Following military service in the Marines, he became an industrial executive specializing in labor relations and personnel management. This experience in human relations figured significantly in his role as a national consultant in business, educational, and government circles and in his work on Middle East issues, including political activities.
From the 1940s through the 1990s, Maria participated in volunteer humanitarian, educational, justice, and peace activities involving the Middle East. Representing the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, he served for many years on the board of the National Council of Churches and as a delegate to the World Council of Churches. In 1960 he was a member of the US Delegation to the Eleventh General Session of UNESCO in Paris, France. In 1985, he was instrumental in bringing about the first ecumenical summit level discussion among US Christian leaders and leaders of the Jewish and Islamic international communities, and in 1988 he was invited to Geneva as a consultant for the UN General Special Assembly on the subject of Palestine.
Maria was deeply involved in several Arab American organizations on a national as well as regional (New England) level. Among these, the early Syrian and Lebanese Federation evolved into the American Arabic Association, and through the years various others followed: the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, the National Association of Arab Americans, and others. Throughout his life, he was actively involved in social justice issues. As a leader in Arab American community life, Maria was frequently called on to serve as a speaker and media commentator on Middle East issues from an Arab American perspective during the often tumultuous decades of the latter half of the 20th century.
[Photo of Francis Maria by Ken Williams, 1985]