Khayrallah Center to Digitize Rihani Papers

The Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at North Carolina State University, the Ameen Rihani Organization in Washington D.C., and the Ameen Rihani Museum in Freike, Lebanon, are pleased to announce a partnership to digitize the complete collection of the Ameen Rihani papers.

The Ameen Rihani Museum Archives started in 1897, and continue to grow. This rare collection includes the various papers, notebooks, manuscripts, correspondence, and published articles of Ameen Rihani. Additionally, it houses articles written about him, together with related historic documents. The collection—which totals over 25,000 page—is written in more than 36 language. In addition to the approximately 5,000 pages handwritten by Rihani himself, the collection contains more than 2,000 pages handwritten by statesmen, authors, and scholars from around the world.

The collaboration between the Khayrallah Center, the Ameen Rihani Organization, and the Rihani Museum is a landmark digitization project. It is the first time that the whole corpus of a major Arab intellectual will be preserved and made accessible online. The digitization of the Rihani Museum archives will protect the invaluable and fragile original collection. In doing so, it will ensure that Rihani’s work and legacy will be well-maintained for generations to come. Moreover, this collaborative project will transcend geographical limitations and make Rihani’s rich works available to scholars across the globe, who will be able to freely access them through the Khayrallah Center Digital Archive.

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Ameen Rihani

Ameen Rihani (1876-1940) is one of the earliest Lebanese American intellectuals who dedicated his life to linking and negotiating between Arab and American cultures. He wrote extensively leaving a corpus of 29 Arabic volumes and 26 English works (click here for a list). In the process he helped re-invent Arabic as a modern language, and molded English to express his Arab heritage. Influenced by Walt Whitman, he introduced free verse in Arabic literature, and was a major figure in the mahjar (Arab diaspora) literary movement developed by Arab emigrants (including Gibran Khalil Gibran) in North America, and an early theorist of Arab nationalism.

Rihani was politically active in the US and the Middle East, championing Arab causes here and abroad. Rihani, spoke out against Zionism and said the only "possible and practical solution [in Palestine] would involve a decision that the Jewish National Home was now complete, and henceforth to be developed from within and not from without.” Jewish immigration and land buying would be stopped at once, and a national representative government would take the place of the [British] Mandate.

Among his many speeches on this topic, one was recorded on June 5, 1937 at Town Hall in New York City and broadcast on  WNYC radio. The Khayrallah Center, in collaboration with the Rihani Museum in Freike (Lebanon), has digitized and remastered the audio from this event.

The speech was preceded by a series of brief introductory speeches by other figures. Rihani’s speech, as well as the prelude, are available to listen to on this page.