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ITALIAN AMER ICANS - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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After Italian unification, in 1861, economic conditions worsened considerably for many in southern Italy and Sicily. Heavy taxes and other economic measures imposed on the South made the situation virtually impossible for many tenant farmers, and small business and land owners. Multitudes chose to emigrate rather than try to eke out a meager living. Often, the father and older sons would go first, leaving the mother and the rest of the family behind until the male members could afford their passage.

From 1880 to 1920, an estimated 4 million Italian immigrants arrived in the United States, the majority from 1900 to 1914. Once in America, the immigrants faced great difficulties. Usually with no knowledge of the English language and with little education, many of the immigrants were compelled to accept the poorest paying and most undesirable jobs, and were frequently exploited by the middlemen who acted as intermediaries between them and the prospective employers


The Italian male immigrants in the Little Italies were most often employed in manual labor, heavily involved in public works, such as the construction of roads, sewers, subways and bridges being carried out at the time in the northeastern cities. The woman most frequently worked as seamstresses in the garment industry or in their homes.

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The destinations of many of the Italian immigrants were not only the large cities of the East Coast, but also more remote regions of the country, such as Florida and California. They were drawn there by opportunities in agriculture, mining, railroad construction, lumbering and other activities underway at the time. Many of the immigrants had contracted to work in these areas of the country as a condition for payment of their passage. In many cases, especially in the south, the immigrants were subject to economic exploitation, hostility and sometimes even violence

Many sought housing in the older sections of the large northeastern cities in which they settled, which became known as "Little Italies", often in overcrowded substandard tenements.


The vast majority of the Italian Americans are Catholics, at least nominally. Four hundred Italian Jesuit priests left Italy for the American West between 1848-1919.

Most Italian Americans have assumed a mainstream American identity. Erik Amfitheatrof observed in 1973 that, "The children of the Italian immigrants no longer feel Italian. They are American. In shedding a sense of apartness from American life, they have also relinquished their once-powerful emotional associations with a remote Italian world”

The movement of immigration of Italians to USA has made a lot of changes in American's culture, including the creation of foods like pepperoni pizza, the introduction of pizza itself in the USA, the fact of celebrating Italian celebrations in American cities, etc.