History of Italian Immigration



One of the largest waves of immigration was in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Jews, Italians, and many other ethnicities flooded New York’s harbors looking for a new chance, a new opportunity. Italians were among the largest group to come at this time. To be precise, there were two separate waves of Italian immigrations: those from Northern Italy and those from Southern Italy. The Northern Italians were of higher class, better educated, and more economically mobile. The Southern Italians however, were of a lower class, and many were illiterate and unskilled. To make things more difficult they were heading into a very competitive environment. The beginning was definitely not easy for the Italians.


Until the 1920’s, the mindset was to return to Italy as fast as quickly as possible. However, eventually immigration became a more permanent status. Like many others before them, the Italians formed communities separate from those around them. They attempted to stay closer to their families and to those who came from the same villages and towns as they came from, thereby forming communities within communities. This point emphasizes the significance of family to Italian-Americans.






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