University of Minnesota

The Philip Hitti Papers at the Immigration History Research Center

It was with fondness that Philip Hitti later remembered his educational beginnings in the Lebanese village of Shimlan, not far from Beirut, on the slopes of Mount Lebanon, the place of his birth in 1886. The first school he attended was the churchyard of the local Maronite Christian church of St. Maron, with the priest, an old Maronite monk, as the sole teacher. In spite of the modest start, Philip Hitti advanced to the nearby American High School and later to the American University in Beirut where he received an A.B. degree in 1908. Having been selected to attend an international student conference in up-state New York in 1913, he visited the United States for the first time. The outbreak of the war made his return home complicated, and he seized the opportunity to continue his studies at Columbia University, graduating with a Ph.D. in 1915. Dr. Hitti taught at Columbia until 1920 when he returned to Beirut to teach at the American University, accompanied by his wife Mary. In 1926, Princeton University offered Philip Hitti a post he would retain for almost 30 years, settling in his wife's country of birth permanently. While at Princeton, he chaired the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures and built the pioneering Near Eastern Program of Studies. After his retirement from Princeton in 1954, he continued to write books on Arab history and teach as visiting professor at other universities. He was a life-long supporter of the peace process in the Near East.

 

Philip Khuri Hitti, 1914.
Philip Hitti, Princeton, 1949.
Street named after P. Hitti in Beirut, Lebanon, photo taken in 1971.
Greek Orthodox Church on the corner of Rue du Dr. Phillippe Hitti. Mary and Philip Hitti in the foreground, 1971.
Philip and Mary Hitti in Beirut, Rue du Dr. Phillippe Hitti, 1971.

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