Italian Immigrants in Progressive Era Boston

Created by: Grace May
Time Period: 19th Century, 20th Century, Progressive Era
Topic: Community and Reform, Culture

Italian immigrants immigrated to America in hopes of achieving more opportunities than were given to them in their native land. Some moved to Boston when they came to America and they were mostly populated in what is known as the North End. In the book by William M. De Marco, Ethnics and Enclaves: Boston’s Italian North End, gives a case study approach to Boston North End’s culture from the perspective of North End residents. This source gives more background and perspective to the lives of Boston Italian immigrants and will better paint the picture of their culture in the late nineteenth and twentieth century.

The book, The Imagined Immigrant: Images of Italian Emigration to the United States between 1890 and 1924, by Ilaria Serra offers the context of Italian immigrants becoming Italian-Americans from the point of view of the Italian immigrants/Americans themselves and also from non-Italian immigrants/Americans point of view. This book is important to my research paper because it provides more context and analysis of Italians immigrants/Americans and Americans during a crucial time in Italian emigration.

This background of Italian immigrants/Americans gives a foundation to understanding the social beliefs and prejudices surrounding this group of ethnic minorities in the late nineteenth and twentieth century. It will help understand why the discrimination against Italian Americans was a big issue in America that affected Boston, especially in the Sacco-Vanzetti Case from 1920 to 1927.

Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian American believed to be anarchists. They were convicted in 1920 of committing murder in South Braintree which is a few miles from Boston and were executed in 1927. This case is an example of the climax of Italian discrimination during the twentieth century. The Legacy of Sacco and Vanzetti by Louis Joughin and Edmund M. Morgan provides the background of the case and the legacy in which this case has left on American and Italian American history. The primary source that helps understand the mind of these two men is given in The Letters of the Sacco and Vanzetti.

With the background and analysis of Italian immigrants/Americans and the Sacco Vanzetti Case, next is trying to understand the muckrakers’ and press’ involvement in the understanding of Italian immigrants/Americans and the case and what impact it had on America during this time. The press had a major impact on the case by giving news and opinions about what did or did not happened and the social, political, and economic factors of Italian immigrants/Americans.

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