isil acehan

Işıl Acehan is an historian from Turkey. Her scholarly interests range widely from American missionaries in the Ottoman Empire to that of the Middle Eastern immigrant and diaspora communities in the United States and Canada. She holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. degree in history from Bilkent University, Turkey. She completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of professors Edward P. Kohn of Bilkent University and Reed Ueda of Tufts University. Her dissertation, “Made in Massachusetts: Converting Hides and Skins into Leather, and Turkish Immigrants into Industrial Laborers, 1860s-1930s,” examines American missionary work in Eastern Anatolia, and Ottoman (Kurds, Turks, and Armenians) migration from that region to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This work was the result of grant-funded research at a number of international archives and libraries over the years which allowed her to build a comprehensive understanding of American Evangelism in the Ottoman Empire and Middle Eastern immigrant and diaspora communities in the United States.

She has received a number of scholarships, research grants and residential fellowships including a Fulbright scholarship, Smithsonian Institution residential fellowship, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities fellowship, Freie Universität Berlin (JFK Institute) residential fellowship, and the Turkish Cultural Foundation research grant.  She was a Fulbright visiting fellow at Harvard University, Center for Middle Eastern Studies in the academic year 2006-2007. During her stay in the United States, she attended classes at Harvard and conducted doctoral dissertation research at the Harvard University libraries, particularly at Harvard’s Houghton Library which houses a large archival collection of American Board of Commissioners for foreign Missions. In 2008, she received a Scholar in Residence grant from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities to conduct additional doctoral research. In 2009-2010 academic year, she was a Turkish Cultural Foundation fellow and did research at Stanford University in the Hoover Institution Archives and the Ottoman Archives in Istanbul. She also received a Smithsonian Institution, Baird Society Residential Scholarship to conduct research in the Smithsonian Institution using the National Museum of American History and the Library of Congress collections and resources. She has taught U.S. History and Late Ottoman/Turkish History classes at both undergraduate and graduate levels at Turkish universities.

As a post-doc fellow at FSCIRE, she is conducting further research on American missionary work in the Ottoman Empire. During her residence, she is intending to revise and publish her dissertation as a book and write publishable articles on her research.



Book Chapters:

 “Ottoman Coffee Houses in the United States: The Development of a Transnational Community,” The Transnational Turn in American Studies: Turkey and the United States. Tanfer Emin Tunc and Bahar Gursel, eds., Peter Lang Publishers, 2012.

 “Conflict and Cooperation between Diverse Ottoman Ethnic Groups in Peabody, Massachusetts,” Turkish Migration to the United States: From the Ottoman Times to the Present. Kemal H. Karpat and A. Deniz Balgamış, eds., University of Wisconsin Press, 2008.


“Sojourners with an Image Problem: Transnational Turks in New England,” Bilig (SSCI journal), Ahmet Yesevi University Press, accepted for publication.

“The humanitarian efforts of the Turkish Red Crescent Societies in the United States”. Perceptions, Spring, 2015.

“Turkish Migration to the U.S.,” Yeni Türkiye, 2013, Vol. 54, 2946-2953.

“‘Ottoman Street’ in America: Turkish Leather Workers in Peabody, Massachusetts,” International Review of Social History (SSCI journal). Cambridge University Press, December, 2009.

“Conflict and Cooperation Between Diverse Ottoman Ethnic Groups in the United States: Peabody, Massachusetts,” International Journal of Turkish Studies (International Refereed Journal), University of Wisconsin Press, Fall 2006.


Amerika’ya Göç Eden İlk Türklerin Kültür ve Kimlik Sorunu,” [The Problem of Identity and Culture among Early Turkish Immigrants in the United States] Kebikeç (Refereed Journal), Ankara, 2005.

“Eski Dünya’dan Yeni Dünya’ya: Anadolu’dan ABD’ye İlk Müslüman Türk Göçü Üzerine,” [From an Old World to the New World: Early Muslim Turkish Migration to the United States] Dogu-Batı (Refereed Journal), Ankara, May 2005.

Book Reviews:

“The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration Since 1965,” Journal of Identity and Migration Studies, Spring 2009.

“Anadolu’dan Yeni Dünya’ya: Amerika’ya Göç Eden İlk Türklerin Yaşam Öyküleri,” Toplumsal Tarih, March 2005.

“From Anatolia to the New World: Tales of the First Turkish Immigrants in America,” Journal of American Studies of Turkey, Fall 2005.