Archival Collections

Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane

Collection code: CAL2011/2
Collection title: Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane Archives Collection

Biographical note

The Sursock family, a big aristocratic and notable Beirut family, marked Lebanon in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Alfred Sursock, an eminent member of the family, lived twenty five years in Paris. He played an important political role at the time of the Ottoman Empire. He was the Consul General of the Empire in Paris for about fifteen years. Back in Lebanon, he played a leading role after the armistice of 1916 in the talks that determined the face of the Middle East defined by the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. In the meantime, during the famine at the end of the World War, he was ruining himself by distributing wheat to the population, especially to the many workers in charge of the construction of the racecourse, and to their families whose lives he had saved.

He died in 1924 without being able to complete his tasks, among which were the Résidence des Pins, the National Museum, the Aero-club designed to train young pilots, in addition to a certain number of canvases not shown to the public, but recognized as the work of a talented painter.

Lady Yvonne Cochrane Sursock was the only daughter of Alfred-Bey Sursock, a Lebanese aristocrat, and Donna Maria Theresa Serra di Cassano, daughter of Francesco Serra, 7th Duke of Cassano. In 1946 Lady Sursock married Sir Desmond Cochrane, Ireland's first ambassador in the Middle East.

Lady Cochrane Sursock was chairperson of the committee and general manager of the Nicolas Sursock Museum in Beirut from 1960 to 1966. She founded the Association for the Protection of Natural Sites and Ancient Homes in Lebanon (APSAD), and was its president from 1960 to 2002.

Her work now focuses on projects that aim to reduce Lebanese emigration and support people in their villages of origin by creating jobs for them in the areas of agriculture, textiles, and crafts.

Lady Cochrane is also involved in the protection of the natural environment in Lebanon and in the preservation of the country's unique architectural and cultural heritage.
She is the owner of the Sursock Palace, in addition to a large group of properties in Lebanon and other countries.

Collection description

The collection of Lady Cochrane Sursock collection includes:
  • Commercial records dating back to the second half of the 19th century
  • Handwritten papers relating to family matters
  • Personal notes for each member of the family, and correspondence
  • Family photos
  • Medals, passports, identity cards, and Ottoman passing permits
  • And a multitude of financial, legal, management, movable assets and real estate documents, geographical maps, and acts of property



Material importance

The Sursock family, a large aristocratic family of Beirut, marked Lebanon in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This archive makes it possible to retrace the life of a notable family of Beirut in all its activities, including a rich collection of political and financial archives.

Consultation method

Upon request from the Archives section of the PCLS.


Lady Yvonne Sursock Cochrane.

Languages used

Language 1: Ottoman
Language 2: Arabic
Language 3: French
Language 4: English
Language 5: Italian

Dates range

1840 - 1997.
Phoenix Center for Lebanese Studies
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