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How Italian Labor Shaped Chicago

"Author Peter Pero pays tribute to Italian-American heritage, but the focus is not on Columbus, Mother Cabrini, or Michaelangelo. Instead, he looks to the working men and women of Italian Chicago who have built our city, brick-by-brick. They funded our churches, built Chicago's skyline, and raised generations of children from immigrant succession to ethnic success."

At Little Italy on October 25.


Pero is the author of Chicago Italians At Work. From the publisher:

"For more than a century, Italian immigrants and their descendants contributed their labor and talent to building the city.

"Chicago Italians at Work focuses on a period from 1890 to 1970 when industry was king in this midwestern metropolis.

"Generations of Italians found work in companies such as U.S. Steel, Western Electric, Pullman, Crane, McCormick/Harvester, Hart Schaffner and Marx, and other large industrial corporations.

"Other Italians were self-employed as barbers, shoe workers, tailors, musicians, construction workers, and more. In many of these trades, Italians were predominant.

"A complex network of family enterprises also operated in the Chicago Italian community. Small shopkeepers generated work in food services and retail employment; some of these ma-and-pa operations grew into large, prosperous enterprises that survive today.

"Finally, Italians helped develop trade unions, which created long-term economic gains for all ethnic groups in Chicago. This book chronicles the labor and contributions of an urban ethnic community through historic photographs and text."


From Wikipedia:

"Chicago and its suburbs have a historical population of Italian Americans. As of 2000, about 500,000 in the Chicago area identified themselves as being Italian descent."


Meet Loyola's Director of Italian American Studies Carla Simonini. From Fra Noi, June 2018:

"It took five years, a massive fund-raising campaign that netted $500,000 and a historic commitment by Loyola University of Chicago, but our metropolis finally has an Italian-American studies program to call its own.

"Though the program is based at Loyola, which matched the $500,000 to create a $1 million endowment, organizers say it also belongs to the local Italian-American community, which will be invited to participate through a variety of outreach efforts.

"These efforts will continue the work begun by Dominic Candeloro, Ph.D., and others in the 1970s to chronicle and popularize the story of Chicago's Italian Americans and preserve it for decades to come.

"A search committee scoured the nation for the right candidate to direct the program and has hired Carla Simonini, Ph.D., as the Paul and Ann Rubino Professor in Italian-American Studies at Loyola."


Comments welcome.


Posted on November 4, 2019

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