Understanding the role of Italian-American newspapers in Italian genealogy group research is a crucial aspect of successfully researching ancestors in Italy. This guide explains how to find clues about your ancestor’s place of origin in local food and city neighborhoods, as well as in naming patterns and marriage customs. To start exploring your Italian roots, you can begin as you would with all family history research.
This section’ll find Italian-American newspapers published over the last hundred years. These publications may contain information about your ancestors, and they’re often available on microfilm or in the original form at libraries and archives.
Throughout the turn of the twentieth century and up to World War II, immigrant dailies, weeklies, and monthlies printed in Italian helped new immigrants acclimate to their American environment while remaining connected to their cultural heritage through language and news from Italy. These Italian-American periodicals provided a platform for expressing Italian invention and creativity in the United States and championed family values and cherished traditions.
After World War II, Italian American periodicals began to focus on more general news in English and also focused heavily on genealogy-related topics. These periodicals are a relatively new category to this guide, and more information will be added as it becomes available.
A few of these publications have moved online and are accessible via subscription databases. They have provided an invaluable source of Italian names and related information for American genealogists. Record collections and historical and genealogical resources are available to assist you in locating your Italian ancestors.
During the last decades of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth, periodicals published for the Italian American community have started focusing on genealogy and family history. Although fewer in number than the first two subject categories in this research guide, these periodicals provide valuable information that supports what can be learned from civil records and censuses about an individual’s place of origin.
The church records of baptism, marriage, and death can also be a valuable source of information for genealogists. The earliest church records date back several hundred years in some areas. As a bonus, Roman Catholic church records often include not only the name of the individual but also their parents and grandparents.
Other Italian-American periodicals, including scholarly and trade journals, almanacs, bulletins, newsletters, and other publications, helped the community define its cultural identity. For example, a sizeable Italian genealogy group of Italian-American periodicals in the earlier part of the twentieth century exhibited a strong antifascist stance, publishing scathing commentaries against the fascist regime in defiance and in solidarity with other libertarian and leftist groups in Italy (anarchists, syndicalists, partigiani) who helped drive the Fascists from power.
A few of these periodicals, especially those published before World War II, have focused on immigration to the United States by individuals from Italy and the resulting Italian American communities that have evolved in America. Other periodicals have discussed other aspects of the culture, including food, music, and other arts.
During the periods of immigration and assimilation into American society, Italian Americans founded numerous periodicals to forge standard political and cultural views during their arduous journey. These publications were essential tools for helping them acclimate to their new life in America and provided the means for maintaining a strong connection with Italy.
Many Italian American periodicals were published in English and Italian as the immigrants integrated into American society. However, most of these publications moved to the English language only. A significant number of the Italian American papers during the 1920s and 1930s were overtly antifascist, publishing scathing commentaries in defiance of the fascist regime in Italy.
The Library of Congress’s collection of historical Italian American newspapers is a treasure trove for genealogists, historians, and scholars. Located in the general collections and reading rooms, these collections are rich in information about the immigrant experience, especially that of the Italian-American community.
In addition to the meetings of the IRG, members often participate in outside events such as a cemetery crawl, tours, genealogy events, and Italian festivals. They also can access a lending library of books on genealogy and other related topics and benefit from the guidance of critical mentors in their research.
Unlike other ethnic groups, which are often mobile and intermarry among other families, Italians typically remain in their ancestral homes for centuries. This relative immobility makes Italian genealogy a fascinating pursuit, especially for those just starting.
For beginners, a guide is a valuable primer. It discusses identifying an ancestor’s town of origin using clues from immigration, naturalization, and census records. The book also covers naming patterns and marriage customs, both of which can provide important leads to the hometown of an Italian ancestor. Several online resources are available for Italian research. They range from free sites to those requiring a university or public library subscription or log in.