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1912 30 Sep Thornton Chase, the first American Bahá'í, Disciple of `Abdu'l-Bahá, passed away in California before 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í and His retinue arrive. He was buried at Inglewood. He had been named Thábit (Steadfast) by the Master. [BBD71; BFA2:XVII]
  • See SoW Vol 3 No 12 16 October, 1912 p1-7 for a tribute to him upon his passing.
  • For a brief biography see Bahá'í Chronicles.
  • See as well Bahá’í Encyclopedia.
  • See "Disciples of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá" . [BW3p84–85; BW4p118–119]
  • See the article Chase, Thornton: The First Bahá'í from the Western Hemisphere by Richard Francis.
  • For a biography see Thornton Chase: First American Bahá'í by Robert H Stockman, Bahá'í Publishing Trust, Wilmette, 2002.
  • During the early years of the Faith in North America the Bahá'ís were unclear about the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. There were those who thought Him an ordinary man who had applied the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh flawlessly through His effort. Others believed Him to be the return of Christ. See ABF244-246 for his letter to Wellesly Tudor-Pole on the station of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
  • And a draft of a portion of the Stockman book, Love's Odyssey: The Life of Thornton Chase.
  • Upon hearing of his passing 'Abdu'l-Bahá is reported to have said, "This revered personage was the first Bahá'í in America. He served the Cause faithfully and his services will ever be remembered throughout ages and cycles." [SoW Vol 4 No 11 p.189]
  • Photos of the grave of Thornton Chase in Inglewood Park Cemetery.
  • Directions to his grave.
  • His publications:
    • A number of pamphlets, See Bibliography of English-Language Works on the Bábí and Bahá’í Faiths, 1844–1985 by William Collins, George Ronald, Oxford, 1990 page 66-67.
    • In Galilee and In Spirit and In Truth, first published in 1908. This was a record of his pilgrimage. [BEL7.634]
    • The Bahai Revelation, first published in 1909. This book was an introduction to the Faith intended for a Christian audience. [BEL7.629]
  • See the trailer for a film entitled Steadfast-The Thornton Chase Story by Mithaq Kazimi and produced by Sam Baldoni.
  • Los Angeles; California; United States Abdul-Baha, Travels of; Abdul-Baha, Second Western tour; Thornton Chase; Disciples of Abdul-Baha; Births and deaths; In Memoriam; Cemeteries and graves
    1912 18 Oct `Abdu'l-Bahá left San Francisco for Los Angeles, arriving the same day. [239D:169; AB309] Los Angeles; San Francisco; United States Abdul-Baha, Travels of; Abdul-Baha, Second Western tour
    1912. 20 Oct Shu'áu'lláh, who had been living in Pasadena at the time, had persuaded a newspaper editor to write two misleading articles in which he tried to show that because of his biological relationship he was bound to inherit the station of the Prophets. At a public meeting a reporter pressed 'Abdu'l-Bahá about him and His reply was to quote Christ when asked about His relationship with His brothers. [MD339-340, 490n325]
  • In the evening He gave an address on unity to a large crowd assembled in an auditorium. [MD341]
  • Los Angeles Abdul-Baha, Travels of; Abdul-Baha, Second Western tour; Covenant-breakers; Shuaullah
    1912 21 Oct `Abdu'l-Bahá left Los Angeles for San Francisco. [AB310] Los Angeles; San Francisco; United States Abdul-Baha, Travels of; Abdul-Baha, Second Western tour
    1932 27 Feb Race Amity gatherings became an effective way promote the principle of racial equality. At one such gathering held in Los Angeles, the circle of racial amity activities was widened to include not only white and coloured but also Native Americans, as well as Chinese and Japanese. At the banquet dinner, Chief Standing Bear, who attended in full regalia with a number of his tribesmen, offered a prayer and spoke of peace as a covenant among all races. A Native American tribal dance followed as part of the programme. [Louis Gregory, ‘Racial Amity in America: An Historical Review’, in BW7p652-666.] Los Angeles; California; United States Race (general); Race Amity; Race unity; Conferences, Race Amity; Native Americans; Chinese diaspora; Japanese diaspora
    1943. 16 Aug The passing of Sydney Sprague (b. Oshkosh WI in 1875) in Los Angeles. He was buried in Inglewood Cemetery. His grave is beside that of Tom Collins, husband of Amelia Collins, and lies just across the road from the grave of Thornton Chase, "First Bahá'í of America." [BW9p633-635]
  • During a pilgrimage in late 1904 'Abdu'l-Bahá suggested he visit the Bahá'ís of the East. He toured India and Burma from December 1904 until the summer of 1905 becoming the first Western Bahá'í of go to the far Orient fulfilling Bahá'u'lláh's prophecy the "The East and West shall embrace as lovers". [YBIB6] iiiii
  • See YBIB55-60 For the story of Kai Khosroe, the Zoroastrian Bahá'í from Bombay who gave his life while nursing Sprague in Lahore when he was deathly ill with typhoid fever.
  • In 1908 he became a resident of Tehran, first teaching in the Bahá'í school and, when he returned the following year, he became principal.
  • He married a niece of 'Abdul'-Bahá and became a brother-in-law of Ameen Fareed. When Fareed was expelled from the Faith in 1914 Sprague and his wife as well as his father-in-law followed. Fareed's father was Mírzá Asadu'lláh-i-Isfahání, the emissary who had taken the remains of the Báb from Iran to the Holy Land. Sprague applied to be reinstated in 1931 (or 1937) and was finally accepted in 1941, two years before his passing. [BW9p633-635]
    • He married Farahangiz Khanum on the 20th of July, 1910, a day selected by 'Abdu'l-Bahá so that Stanwood Cobb could attend. The Bahá'í wedding was performed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the legal ceremony was conducted by a mullá four days later. [BN Vol 1 No 12 October 1910 p 7]
  • He made a teaching trip to South America and died soon after his return to the United States. [AB409]
  • He was the author of The Story of the Bahai Movement published in London in 1907 and A Year with the Bahá'ís of India and Burma in May of 1908. [YBIBxi] iiiii
  • Los Angeles; United States; India; Myanmar (Burma); Lahore; Pakistan Sydney Sprague; Covenant-breakers; Ameen Fareed (Amin Farid); Mirza Asadullah-i-Isfahani; Kai Khosroe; Teaching, South America; In Memoriam
    1946 11 Aug The passing of Orcella Rexford (b. Louise Cutts-Powell, 12 Jun 1887 in Tracey, Minnesota) in Los Angeles. She was buried near the grave of Thornton Chase in the Inglewood Park Cemetery. [BW11p495-498; Find a grave]
  • Orcella first heard of the Bahá'í Faith from Mrs. Myrta Sandoz of Cleveland, Ohio, and was later confirmed by Dr. Edward Getsinger in Boston, Mass. She became a believer in 1918-1919. [BW11p495]
  • For a brief biography see Bahá'í Chronicles.
  • For a more extensive biography see Bahaipedia.
  • See her article, Alaska, Our New Frontier. [BW9p918-922]
  • Los Angeles; United States Orcella Rexford; Births and deaths; In Memoriam; Cemeteries and graves; Thornton Chase
    1983 (In the year) The Diary of Juliet Thompson with a forward by Marzieh Gail was published by Kalimat Press. The diary was of one of the earliest Bahá'ís of New York, covering her many hours with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1909, 1911, and 1912. It was a vivid personal account of spiritual love and the tests of her faith. [BEL7.2553] Los Angeles; United States Diary of Juliet Thompson; Juliet Thompson; Marzieh Gail
    1983 5 – 7 Aug The first Los Angeles Bahá’í History Conference was held at the University of California at Los Angeles. [BW19:369–70] Los Angeles; United States Bahai history; Conferences, Bahai; Conferences, Other; Conferences; First conferences
    1999 (in the year) Mona Foundation was founded in 1999. The Foundation supports grassroots educational initiatives that provide education to all children, increase opportunities for women and girls, and emphasize service to the community. The goal is to alleviate global poverty and support community led transformation such that no child ever goes to bed hungry, is lost to preventable diseases, or is deprived of the gift of education for lack of resources. The core belief is that the keys to alleviating poverty are universal education, gender equality, and community building.
  • The headquarters is located in Washington, DC with chapters in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland and San Diego. There is a sister organization in Vancouver, Canada. [Website]
  • See Borgen Magazine for the Mona Foundation 20 years on.

    The following are the results of the foundation’s work with partner organizations in 2020.

    • 2,286,575 students enrolled (in-class and online)
    • 3,145 teachers trained
    • 23,494 parents trained
    • 568 known service projects
    • 833 schools served
    • 3,246 known communities served (by schools or service projects)
    • 864,705 individuals impacted by the Mona Foundation outreach programs
  • Los Angeles; Seattle; Portland; San Diego; Vancouver Mona Foundation; Social and Economic Development Organizations
    2008 13 – 14 Dec Regional Conferences were held in Stamford, United States, Dallas, United States and Los Angeles, United States. [BWNS677] Stamford; United States; Dallas; Los Angeles Regional Conferences; BWNS
    2012 24 Feb The inaugural screening of Iranian Taboo by Dutch-Iranian filmmaker Reza Allamehzadeh in Los Angeles. [Iranian Taboo, BWNS890] Los Angeles; United States Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Other; Persecution; Documentaries; Iranian Taboo; Reza Allamehzadeh; BWNS
    2015 27 Feb The premiere of the film To Light a Candle by Iranian-Canadian filmmaker and journalist, Maziar Mahari. The gala in Los Angeles was part of a campaign called "Education is Not a Crime", started in 2014, to highlight the plight of Bahá'í students in Iran and their recourse to the denial of education, the Bahá'í Institute of Higher Education. The film was also screened in some 300 locations around the world. [BWNS1041, BWNS1025]
  • See also Not a Crime.
  • Los Angeles; United States Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Education; Persecution; Documentaries; Education is not a Crime; BWNS; Bahai Institute for Higher Education (BIHE)
    2017 5 May The film Changing the World, One Wall at a Time was premiered in Harlem on the 5th of May and in Los Angeles on the 5th of June. The film evolved from shorter videos that were posted from the "Education is not a Crime" campaign and was made by Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Maziar Baharie. [BWNS1173]
  • The film Changing the World, One Wall at a Time.
  • Harlem; New York; Los Angeles; California; United States Persecution, Iran; Persecution, Education; Persecution; Documentaries; Education is not a Crime; BWNS
    2018 9 May The premiere of the film The Gate: Dawn of the Bahá’í Faith in Los Angeles. The first ever documentary about the origins of the Bahá’í Faith. On May 23rd, Bahá’í communities in multiple locations showed the film as part of their Holy Day observance. The film was directed by Bob Hercules, written by Ed Price, and the producers were Steve Sarowitz, Ed Price and Adam Mondschein. [Film Website]
  • Later, about October, 2019, the film would be used to produce The Gate, Dusk of the Baha'i Faith as propaganda against the Faith.
  • Los Angeles; United States Bab, Life of; Babi history; Documentaries; Film; The Gate: Dawn of the Bahai Faith (film); Bob Hercules; Persecution, Iran
    2020. 18 Sep The passing of Talat Bassari (b. 1923 Babol, Iran) in Los Angeles. She was an Iranian Bahá'í poet, feminist, academic, and writer with a doctorate in Persian language and literature. She was the first woman to be appointed as vice-chancellor of a university in Iran when she worked at the Jondishapur University in Ahvaz (1956–1979). In the aftermath of the Islamic revolution in Iran and because of her Bahá'í faith, she was dismissed from her university position and eventually migrated to the United States.

    In addition to her critiques on Persian literature she published a biography of Zandokht Shiraizi, a pioneer in the feminist movement in Iran. She resided in New Jersey where she worked on the editorial board of the New Jersey-based magazine, Persian Heritage. Bassari also assisted in books on the life of Táhirih and contributed with Persian to English translations in academia. [Wikipedia]

    Los Angeles; United States; Iran In Memoriam; Talat Bassari; Literature; Women; Tahirih

    from the main catalogue

    1. Are the Characteristics of Exiles Different from Immigrants?: The Case of Iranians in Los Angeles, by Georges Sabagh and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, in Institute for Social Science Research Working Papers, 2:5 (1986). Five passing references to "Bahai" — but in a statistical context only — about whether the large influx of Iranians into LA in the late 1970s added a sizeable and distinctive minority to the population of this metropolitan area. [about]
    2. Los Angeles, Living in, by Universal House of Justice (1996). Baha'is have not been advised to avoid living in Los Angeles, but should still recall the importance of pioneering and not congregating in insular communities. [about]
     
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