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Southern European Immigrants. Click on a Country Name. France. Italy. P o r t g a l. Spain. Greece. Finish map, then click. Portugal - Area of Settlement. Continue to Reasons For Emigrating. France – Areas of Settlement.

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southern european immigrants

Southern European Immigrants

Click on a Country Name












Finish map, then click

portugal area of settlement
Portugal - Area of Settlement

Continue to




france areas of settlement
France – Areas of Settlement

The French are largely assimilated and scattered across the nation


To Reasons

For Emigrating

greece areas of settlement
Greece – Areas of Settlement

Continue to




  • The Spanish did not immigrate to the United States during the time period, instead immigrating to their former colonies in Latin and South America


areas of settlement for italians
Areas of Settlement For Italians
  • Many Italians settled in tight-knit communities within cities, forming a “Little Italy” section in such cities as New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Detroit.
  • The few Italians that settled beyond the mid-Atlantic states settled in New Orleans (where they worked on farms), the West (where they worked in mines or on farms), and California (where the richer Northern Italians formed vineyards and orchards.
  • Over 2 million Italian immigrants arrived in the U.S. between 1900-1910, the heaviest period of immigration seen.
    • Italians replaced the Irish as the largest immigrant population, and the movement was deemed the “New Immigration”.

Continue to




reasons for leaving italy
Reasons for Leaving Italy
  • In 1871, Italy united into one nation, but the South did not reap any economic benefit; conditions actually got worse for them, with taxes increasing in their stagnant economy.
  • The immigrants were mostly poor Southern Italians, but skilled workers (masons) could also no longer find jobs in the underproductive, underemployed economy.
    • Basic Reason: Poverty
      • Details: unemployment, underemployment, high mortality rate, little or no medical schooling, poor housing, semi-starvation, rigid class structure (no chance for improvement, and exploitation.

Continue to


italian expectations upon arrival
Italian Expectations Upon Arrival
  • Mostly only men immigrated at first, expecting only to stay for enough time to send enough money home so that their family could improve their situation.
    • After they sent for their families, stories spread about the riches and opportunities available in the U.S., and the mythical “streets paved with gold” gave hope to many peasants.

Back to Map

expectations upon arrival in u s
Expectations Upon Arrival In U.S.
  • Immigrants expected economic prosperity or at least relief from the hardships they were fleeing
  • Immigrants also expected freedom and an end to persecution they might be fleeing

Continue to Trades

And Skills –

Portugal and Greece

Continue to Trades

And Skills –


trades skills
Trades & Skills
  • Greece
    • Competent industrial laborers
      • worked in factories and mills
    • also worked in mines and on railroads
    • Many Greeks opened restaurants
  • Portugal
    • Many Portuguese worked in agriculture, such as on Hawaiian sugar plantations
    • Became fisherman
    • Worked as industrial laborers

Back to Map

trades crafts cont
Trades & Crafts (cont.)
  • France
    • Making wine, cheese, and bread
    • Overly dramatic movies
    • Being disgustingly romantic

Back to Map

france reasons for emigrating
France – Reasons for Emigrating
  • Mainly due to political events and economic depressions
  • Poor French citizens came to the U.S. seeking economic opportunity
  • Very little immigration, especially during the World Wars

Continue to


greece reasons for emigrating
Greece – Reasons for Emigrating
  • Poor economic conditions in Greece led to large amounts of immigrants from the 1890s to 1924
  • Persecution by the Ottoman Empire from 1901 to 1920
  • Greek Civil War (1946-1949)

Continue to


portugal reasons for emigrating
Portugal – Reasons for Emigrating
  • economic hardship

Continue to Expectations

italian trades and crafts in the u s
Italian Trades and Crafts in the U.S.

When First Immigrated:

  • Became common laborers in construction in New York.
          • Replaced the Irish and Jews in this profession.
  • Worked in stockyards and railroads in Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City and rural areas.
  • Textile and garment trades in New Jersey and New England.
    • Replaced the Jews in this profession.
  • Miners and steel workers in Pennsylvania and Nevada.
  • Northern Italians entered the U.S. as lawyers, doctors and other professionalisms.
    • Northern Italy was more industrialized than the south of Italy.
  • Southern Italians were the worst paid ethnic group other than the African-Americans.
    • In 1912, mainly because of their unskilled occupations.
      • Southern Italians were very agricultural and often uneducated.
  • Became officials of various Labor Unions as well as forming their own.
    • Luigi Antonini of the American Labor Union of New York.
  • Many became entrepreneurs.
    • Owned candy and grocery stores, and Italian restaurants.
    • Worked their way up to the financial and corporate industries as well as politics.
  • End of World War II brought about economic flexibility for Italians as discrimination was minimized.
    • Because of large population of Italian Americans serving in the war.
  • Merchants in importing Italian goods.
    • Imported items like olive oil, macaroni, ravioli, and cheese.

Advanced to More Skilled Professions through generations:

Italian immigrant entrepreneur in 1930.

Italian immigrant workers at a stockyard in Illinois

politics and living conditions upon arrival
Politics and Living Conditions Upon Arrival
  • Most Southern Europeans settled in ethnic neighborhoods in the cities.
    • 70% of immigrants from the region spoke English after being in the U.S. for 10 years.
      • Children wanted to be “American” while their parents wanted to keep their heritage.
    • Settled in ethnic enclaves to escape ethnic prejudice and discrimination.
      • Were considered to be “dark-skinned”.
    • Many men came to the U.S. by themselves leaving their wives and families behind.
      • 34% of Italian men did this while 90% of Greeks did.
  • Living conditions and salaries were lower than other ethnicities.
    • Averaged 5.5 people per two room apartment.
    • Average Southern Europeans earned $11.30 per week in 1912.
      • Southern Italians earned on average $9.64 per week at the same time.
      • National average at the time was $14.37 per week for native white Americans.
  • Were often a part of political rings like most other immigrants in the early 20th century.
    • Came to the U.S. to express their own political views.
southern european customs and contributions to american society
Southern European Customs and Contributions to American Society
  • All Southern European groups.
    • Christmas Eve- made it a more significant holiday.
      • Tradition of not eating meat on Christmas Eve.
      • Was a bigger holiday than Christmas Day in most Southern

European countries.

    • Contributed to the armed forces in World War II.
      • Allowed to advance their cultures in American society.
  • French, Portuguese and Spanish Immigrants.
    • Several words a part of the American’s vocabulary.
      • Ex: h’orderves, patio, barbeque, canyon, mezzanine, lacrosse.
    • More Catholic people in society.
      • Foundation of the Portuguese Methodist Church.
  • Greek Immigrants.
    • The Greek Orthodox Church.
  • Italian Immigrants.
    • Set up Italian communities where Italian was spoken like “Little Italy” in New York.
      • Family life and Catholicism was strengthened.
    • Foods like pizza and pasta as well as wine were introduced.
    • Contributions in art were also significant.
      • Designed several buildings including the Capitol by Constantino Brumidi.
    • Columbus Day- named a national holiday by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.
    • Italian mobsters and the Mafia.

Capitol Building designed by Italian fresco artist Constantino Brumidi

Symbol of the Orthodox Church

famous southern europeans who immigrated
Famous Southern Europeans Who Immigrated.
  • Marco Giovanni Fontana (Italy)-founder of Del Monte Foods.
  • Arturo Giovannitti (Italy)-famous poet and labor union leader.
  • Anthony T. Rossi (Italy)-founder of Tropicana products in Florida.
  • Arianna Huffington (Greece)-author and columnist.
  • Teresa Heinz Kerry (Portugal)-wife of U.S. presidential candidate John Kerry.
  • Meyer Guggenheim (Switzerland)-was a wealthy business man.

Continue to Bibliography


A Personal Account of Immigration of John Titone.

Origin: Sicily, Italy

Reasons for Leaving: His brother and sister who lived in New York persuaded his mother to move to the U.S. Additionally, economic conditions in Southern Italy were very bad in the 1920’s when he left.

Family Members Who Came: Mother and two sisters made the trip, his father joined them later.

Mode of Transportationto U.S.: Took a train to the port of Palermo, Italy and a boat from there to New York.

Where He Settled: First time he was deported for failing the health test at Ellis Island. When he returned for a second time he settled in the neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

Occupation in U.S.: Worked as a printer in Manhattan, switching companies frequently.

U.S. Experience: Gave him numerous opportunities in work and lifestyle that he wouldn’t have had in Italy.

  • Abbott, Grace. The Immigrant and the Community. New York : The Century Co., 1917.
  • Borrelli, Ada. Personal interview. 11 Feb 2006.
  • "Distribution of Italian Immigrants in the United States." Facts On File, Inc. American History Online. <>.
  • Hoopler, Thomas. The Italian American Family Album. London: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Interview of John Titone by Willa Appel, February 6, 1986
  • "Italian: A Century in the Spotlight." Immigration. 7 June 2004. Library of Congress. 5 Nov 2006


  • Noyes, Dorothy. "Family and Community." Italian-American Traditions. The Balch Institute for

Ethnic Studies. 5 Nov 2006


  • Papanikolas, Helen. An Amulet of Greek Earth. Cincinnati: Ohio University Press, 2002.
  • Powell, John. “French immigration.” Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Facts on File, Inc., 2005. Facts On File, Inc. American History Online. <>.
  • Powell, John. “Portuguese immigration.” Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Facts on File, Inc., 2005. Facts On File, Inc. American History Online. <>.
  • Powell, John. “Greek immigration.” Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Facts on File, Inc., 2005. Facts On File, Inc. American History Online. <>.
  • Powell, John. “Spanish immigration.” Encyclopedia of North American Immigration. Facts on File, Inc., 2005. Facts On File, Inc. American History Online. <>.


bibliography cont d
Bibliography (cont’d)
  • Rapczynski, Joan. "The Italian Immigrant Experience in America (1870-1920)." 1999. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. 5 Nov 2006 <>.
  • Veronesi, Gene P.. "Italian American." Cleveland Memory. 12 Mar 2003. The Cleveland Memory Project. 5 Nov 2006 <>.
  • Veronesi, Gene. "Italian Immigration and Settlement." Italians in America: The Formative Years (1600-1880). 12 Mar 2003. Cleveland State University. 2 Nov 2006 <>.
  • Wittke, Carl. We Who Built America. The Press of Case Reserve University. Baltimore. 1967.