Ottoman street in America: Turkish leatherworkers in Peabody, Massachusetts
This article examines the role of Turkish leatherworkers in New Englands labor movement in the early twentieth century. It begins with the exodus of a large Ottoman population from eastern Anatolian provinces to eastern Massachusetts, and their employment in New Englands leather factories. Throughout the article, the rise of the leather business in eastern Massachusetts cities (including Peabody and Salem), the Turkish immigrants concentration on Peabodys Walnut Street (which came to be called Ottoman Street), the importance of kin and friends in providing practical information vital for adjusting to the new environment, and the coffee house as a response to industrial conditions are discussed at length. The author argues that, although many of the Turkish leatherworkers originated from rural backgrounds and had no experience in unionizing and striking, their quick adjustment to the industrial city and their growing awareness of labor rights was a result of lectures given within the Turkish community, changing circumstances in the old country and in the United States, such as the Balkan Wars and World War I, and their unchallenged place in the tanneries of Peabody, MA. © 2009 Copyright Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis.