Most Italian Americans trace their ancestry to the southern regions of Italy although earliest migration came mainly from the northern areas of the Italian peninsula. Italian Americans settled throughout the United States. Many of the immigrants had little sense of an "Italian" identity, finding their identity in their hometown or region. Little Italies were found in New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, and New Orleans. At the height of their immigration, most were unskilled workers who worked on the railroads, in clothing shops, construction projects, shipyards, or on fishing boats. Eventually, they moved into all occupations. Italian Americans have rapidly assimilated into American culture and they speak English.
Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.
North America --Regional and Ethnic Cultures
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Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.
The Italian American file consists of 65 English language documents representing a wide range of ethnographic topics covering both the general Italian American population in the United States and more specific immigrant settlements in urban areas. These settlements form the basis of a number of community studies which comprise a large portion of this file. These studies, which range in time from the mid nineteenth century to the 1990s, include information on the history of the community, immigration patterns, acculturation and assimilation, socio-political organization, social change, concepts of ethnicity, religion, and settlement patterns. For a broad coverage of general Italian American ethnography, the reader is advised to consult: Nelli, 1983, no. 8, Iorizzo and Monbello, 1980, no. 16, Johnson, 1985, no. 3, and Alba, 1985, no. 37. Other studies in the file cover a wide range of ethnographic topics from foods (Magliocco, 1993, no. 71) to street corner society ((Whyte, 1993, no. 55), to fine arts (Mathas, 1988, no. 63; Gardaphe, 1987, no. 68), and many other miscellaneous subjects. Given particular attention in the file is the status and role of women in Italian American society (Orsi, 1985, no. 2, D'Andrea, 1983, no. 12, Egelman, 1987, no. 18, Ware, 1958, no. 27, DeSena, 1987, no. 28, Furio, 1980, no. 30, Capozzoli, 1987, no. 79, Danzi, 1990, no. 84, and Krase, 1991, no. 91).
In general, the wide selection of literature on Italian immigrants in the United States in this file stresses their adjustments to new economic and social circumstances and the life and culture of later generations of Italian Americans.
For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this file, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.
The Italian American culture summary was written by Frank Salamone in December 1998. Frank Salamone also provided many of the bibliographical suggestions used in compiling this file. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in November 1999.
American Committee on Italian Migration (ACIM) -- categories 167, 664
American Italian Historical Association (AIHA) -- category 814
boarding houses -- category 485
building and loan associations -- categories 452, 453
CAMPANILISMO -- the concept of regionalism -- category 186
Casa Italiana Educational Bureau -- category 741 (sometimes 814)
Cleveland Club -- category 665
communion, religious -- category 788
community brokers -- category 554
consuls (of the Italian government) -- category 648
DOMUS (OSTAL) -- the unifying principle that links man and his possessions; the basis of the understanding of the good and the basis of moral judgement; also the family (household), and the physical home itself -- categories 577, 592 (sometimes with 181)
ex-COMBATTENTI -- a federated, nationwide organization of Italian ex-servicemen -- category 729
fascism -- category 668
FESTA -- category 796
Fisherman's Protective Association -- categories 228, 185
humanistic societies -- Italian American society, IL Cenacolo, Leonardo da Vinci Society
Italian American Agricultural Association -- category 741
Italian Federation of California -- category 575
ITALIANITA, concepts of -- category 186
Italian-Swiss Agricultural Association -- categories 473, 245
MAFIA (black hand) -- category 548
MAGO (STREGA) -- mysterious and powerful magicians -- category 791
mutual benefit societies -- category 456
"New Deal" -- category 185
New Orleans lynching incident of 1891 -- categories 177, 579
nursing homes -- category 734
organ grinders -- category 533
PADRONI system -- payoffs to a "boss" in order to obtain employment -- category 466
political party clubs -- category 665
private welfare agencies -- Society for Italian Immigrants, Italian Mutual Benevolent Association, Italian Welfare Agency, Italian Home, Italian Gens -- category 747
"Problem Center", the -- category 575
rag pickers / scavengers -- category 364
RISPETTO -- respect -- category 577
scapulars -- objects given out at the altar to provide protection -- categories 778, 789
SCUOLA D'INDUSTRIE ITALIANE -- category 874
settlement houses (Haarlem House, Hull House, Chicago common) -- category 747
SOCIETA POLITICA OPERAIA ITALO-AMERICANA -- categories 464, 467
Un-American Activities Committee -- category 647
VERGOGNA -- shame -- categories 152, 626