The Italian American Experience in New Haven: Images and Oral Histories

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A compelling social history of a vibrant immigrant community, told through interviews and photographs.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As he lovingly did in his book on Boston's North End in Portrait of an Italian American Neighborhood, Riccio narrates the history of New Haven through the stories and photos of the Italian-Americans who lived in and helped build the city. Be it the Annex, Wooster Square or Legion Avenue, Italians had lived and worked there since the first wave of immigration in the late 19th century. Riccio divides the story into chapters that encapsulate moments in history: "The Journey to America: Life on the Ships," "A New Life in New Haven," "The Depression in New Haven," "Highways and Urban Renewal: New Haven Changed Forever." The oral test to get citizenship in the U.S. was a terrifying ordeal, as many of these stories attest, and in one, a gentleman sweating profusely, is asked by the judge, "What flies above the court house?" The judge expects the answer to be "the American flag," but the nervous gentleman aptly replies, "pigeons." Even among Italians, there was a division between northerners and southerners (a large portion of whom hailed from Campania), with the minority of northerners looking down on the majority who came from the mezzogiorno. These are not always your stereotypical portraits of big happy Italian families, but instead, stories of the struggles Italian-Americans endured-and in several ways their stories are the stories of so many of those who immigrated to this country. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780791467749
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2009
  • Series: SUNY series in Italian/American Culture
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 472
  • Sales rank: 943,145
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony V. Riccio is Stacks Manager at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. He is the author of Portrait of an Italian-American Neighborhood: The North End of Boston.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Mary Ann McDonald

1. Life in Italy

2. The Journey to America: Life on the Ships

3. A New Life in New Haven

4. Becoming American Citizens

5. Going to School in New Haven

6. The Spanish Flu Pandemic Strikes New Haven

7. Justice Denied: The Execution of Sacco and Vanzetti

8. Letters to Loved Ones

9. Fables and Proverbs

10. Farming Life in New Haven

11. Working Life Experiences

12. New Haven’s Garment Workers: Life in the Sweatshops

13. Workers Organize: The Labor Movement in New Haven

14. Northerners and Southerners

15. Going Back to Italy

16. The Depression in New Haven

17. Witches, Healers and Herbs

18. Italian Feasts

19. Italian Societies

20. Sports Stories

21. Artists and Singers

22. Meat Markets, Pastry Shops, Bakeries and Pizzerias

23. Holiday Celebrations

24. Vanishing Dialects

25. Life by the Sea

26. New Haven’s Italian Americans in World War II

27. The Franklin Street Fire

28. Life in the Annex

29. Life in the Wooster Square Neighborhood

30. Life in the Hill

31. Life in the Forbes Avenue Neighborhood

32. Life in Fair Haven

33. Life in the Legion Avenue Neighborhood

34. Highways and Urban Renewal: New Haven Forever Changed


Afterword by Philip Langdon

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2008

    A Slice of Italian Culture in New Haven

    An very interesting 'slice' of the Italian American Community in New Haven, from some individuals & families' points of view. Many families were not included that were influential, but it was written by people who discussed some of their memories. It might have been nice if some of the names were proofed. 'ie' Mayor Celentano, the name was not spelled correctly in some areas of the book. As someone who lived there as a young child, I have some additional recollections, clarifications & observations that were not found in the book, but I understand that it could not be written from all points of view. It was none the less enjoyable & informative.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    Brilliantly written

    The Italian American Experience In New Haven: Images And Oral Histories by Anthony Riccio (Stacks Manager at the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University) draws upon personal interviews as well as family and archival photographs to present a richly complex and fully realized history of the life and experiences of Italian immigrants who settled in New Haven, Connecticut in the 19th and 20th centuries. Not only is the daily pulse of life in the Italian-American community revealed in the life stories of ordinary men and women, the reader will discover how this immigrant community was affected by such landmark events as the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and World War II. Also revealed are the hardships of Italian immigrant women who labored under terrible (and often hazardous) conditions in New Haven's shirt factories. The integrations of historic photographs with the reported interviews transform The Italian American Experience In New Haven from just another ethnic American history into a compelling social history showcasing a vibrant, vigorous, colorful community. The result is a brilliantly written and highly recommended work that is as entertaining as it is informative.

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