TRACING the FAMILY 'S  Tracing the Family's Footsteps !! FOOTSTEPS
...........TO A NEW LIFE !

Italians in AMERICA - Part 3


Between 1850 and 1930 millions of Italians left Italy to go to the USA.  By the year 1871 alone, 400 000 Italians had emigrated.  They were part of the mass emigration, attracted by the promise of successful lives and futures in America, the land of many promises. Italy was divided into North and South, North being better because of its farm land.  Many areas suffered from earthquakes, floods, and other natural disasters. The people experienced poverty, some persecution and others fled because of war. Initially, most emigrants hailed from Northern Italy. As time passed, the south became the place of origin for most emigrants. With this shift also came an increase in those leaving the nation. The reasons for the mass emigration of the Italians were many, and there were differences in the reasons that made people emigrate from the south and north of Italy. However, it is known that the standard of living became worse in the whole of Italy between 1870 and 1900, especially on the countryside. Diseases and starvation were the main causes of migration. Food had become the biggest cost for an Italian family. Many peasant families spent about 75 % of their money on food. Despite the high cost, this food oftentimes failed to even contain enough nutrition to sustain a person. In the North, the population suffered from pellagra, a disease which often resulted in insanity and death, whereas in the south, fatal malaria plagued the nation's residents. At first, malaria only struck in the coastal areas, but this changed as deforestation, erosion and flooding enabled the malaria to spread. The conditions which people endured in these areas were unbelievable as 2 million Italians died each year.


To make matters worse, the agricultural system of Italy was not modernized, and there was little hope of improving the situation. Even so, some regions enjoyed extended railroads, which allowed peasants living in the areas around the railroads to concentrate on a single crop and allowed them to export it, as well. However, the railroads were not powerful enough to noticeably reduce the number of people that emigrated to the U.S. Another important factor in the emigration of the Italians, was the agricultural crisis that Italy suffered in the 1880s. During this time, Italian agriculture was hurt by the increasing amount of products from America that invaded Italian markets. The price of wheat and other products fell, and unemployment increased as landowners and peasants no longer could profitably trade. Many northern Italians, who probably suffered most from the crisis, didn't see any other alternative than to emigrate. In the 1890s many southern Italians also started to emigrate due to economic troubles. Also leading to the great numbers of Italian emigrants was a lack of democracy (few Italians had the right to vote) and a low literacy rate. Italian emigration was assisted greatly through improved transportation by steamships and cheap railroads. As the journey became easier, few people hesitated to leave the country where they had been born.


Italians immigrants passed through Ellis Island and there they saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time.   Many were not educated,  could not speak the language, worked hard jobs and lived in cramped neighborhoods.  Others,  who were better educated fared better.  Not all the immigrants intended to stay, one-third came with  the intention of  earning enough money to  bring back to Italy to start a good life.  The majority stayed and sent money back to their families to come to America.  Many  started their own businesses,  gained success as athletes, artists, conductors and scientists.  They successfully joined other immigrants from foreign lands in making America what it is today.

Blohm, E. Craig, December 1992,
Cobblestone Magazine Enrico 
Fermiís New World, Cobblestone v.13, p.30-33.
Zuber, L. Shari, December 1992,
Cobblestone Magazine Buon 
Giorno America!, Cobblestone v. 13, p.4-8.
Italian Americans Success Stories, Cobblestone v.13, p.25.
Hong, E. Karen, December 1992, 
Cobblestone Magazine
The Bank For Just Plain Folks, Cobblestone v. 13 22-27.

 DePaola Coat of Arms

On Ships They Came 

 They Came to America  Immigrants Living in America  Italians in America   

Dad in World War II


Up ] DePaola COA ] ItalianNames-English Meanings ] Genealogy Awards ]

Date of  last revision: 10/18/16 04:25:27 PM.