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World War I Remittances

Did your relatives send or receive money via the US Consulate during World War I? A key goal for many early immigrants (and even immigrants today) is to earn enough money in their new land to ease financial burdens for loved ones back home. This money sent back to the homeland is called a remittance and they were the largest source of income for Mount Lebanon in the early 1900s. 

When the First World War broke out in 1914, government instability and blockades began to strain the ease of sending money back and forth from the United States to Mount Lebanon. These transactions were handled by the U.S. Consulate in Beirut, but ultimately, the consulate closed when the U.S. entered the war in 1917 on the opposing side of the Ottoman Empire of which Mount Lebanon was a part. 

Meanwhile, the people of Mount Lebanon and its surrounds were ravaged by war and a devastating famine from 1915 to 1918 during which as many as one third the population, many women and children, starved to death. Tragically, it was nearly impossible for immigrants in America to discover whether their spouses, parents, children, or other loved ones were alive or dead. The records of the consulate often record the desperate attempts of immigrants to learn about their family’s condition, or the attempts of struggling Lebanese to contact their relatives in the United States for aide.

The Database

The database below lists the names of people who sent and received money through the U.S. Consulate from 1915 to 1916 and where they lived. Reference notes in the database guide researchers to additional documentation from the Beirut Consulate Post Records Collection in the KCLDS Archive. The records were also used for an interactive mapping project that allows researchers to discover their relatives via their village in Mount Lebanon and other provinces.

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