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Eastern European Immigrants Around the Late 1800s to Early 1900s


Adolfo and Rosaria Bladizzi of Sicily, Italy, traveled to the United States with their two kids on October 20, 1923. The United States was struggling to keep new immigrants and passed the Immigration Act of 1924 to regulate admission permits by nationality, which significantly restricted the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country. Baldizzi and their two American-born kids, Josephine and Johnny, resided at 97 Orchard Street. The major purpose for Bladizzi’s relocation to America was to provide a better lifestyle for his children. He did whatever it took to achieve the American Dream, irrespective if it involved years of parental estrangement or violating federal of the authorities. He took significant risks in the hope that relocation would contribute to stronger opportunities for his household.

Country’s situation during migration

The first situation that promoted migration from Italy to other nations was the male-to-female ratio. That ratio was four to one with males leading the way. Though the numbers eventually equaled out, they rarely achieved an equal fifty-fifty. Single Italian men traveled to the United States to participate in railroad installation, dam building, canal digging, storm sewer development, and road paving, or “pick and shovel” occupations. The average Italian worker was a man in his optimum working lifetime. Most had spouses and children in Italy, towards whom they intended to return after they had gathered enough of their American salary to buy a property or establish a company. The mean duration of stay in America for an Italian was seven years (Europa, 2019). Some Italians began to travel long distances. They worked in America during in the hectic summertime and came home during in the winter season, when building was halted.

Italy situation during migration was poor due to lack of job and overpopulation. After 1865, the vast majority of Italian immigrants were low-wage southern farm laborers. They landed to Ellis Island uneducated and untrained, with an averaging of $9.79 in personal savings in 1901. Considering their farming roots, the majority of Italians moved in vast industrial towns. They found employment as city workers, paves, and ditch and trench excavators here, which were the harshest and most hazardous tasks. Southern Italians were labeled as America’s “worst immigrants” by immigration authorities, a sentiment reflected in the everyday press. The national media frequently associated Italians with terms such as “stupid,” “uneducated,” and “clannish” (Europa, 2019). Another frequently noted Italian feature was “violence.”

Experiences in America

Italians, more than any other ethnicity, arrived in New York well aware that they were unwelcome. Italians earned less than other nationalities or were refused positions completely in the workforce. Landlords having a no-Italians policy refused to rent to them. The reality that few people understood English provided little security from racial insults, which were a cause of severe shame for the displaced Italian. The migrant quickly learned that phrases like dago and ginny were commonplace in American discourse, and not just in the marketplaces and school playgrounds (Frager, 2019). The quota rules essentially made anti-Italian racism official American public policy.

Peasant households in Italy have succeeded to withstand another type of adverse environment. S outhern Italian agricultural labourers, faced authoritarian landlords, unreasonably exorbitant taxes, and food shortages on a regular basis. Even in better moments, when the peasant had more than enough to eat, famine was always a threat. Nothing else was promised to the peasant, and nothing was more important than the unbreakable link of family. The family patriarch was an unrivaled authority figure who wanted perfect loyalty from his wife and children, his farm laborers. The demands of the family took precedence over those of the individuals, and family devotion was unshakable. As Italians acclimated to a different way of living in America, the ancient traditions of family unity were pushed to the limits. Children left their families’ presence for the first time and were required to visit school. Apart from their family, they were introduced to a different world with people and thoughts. Italian ladies, no longer subject to the continual scrutiny of their parents, were now empowered, if not fully, to form their own acquaintances and, ultimately, to find their own marriages (Frager, 2019). As Italian women left their households to labor in American factories to built different lives from their families, gaining a level of freedom they had never known in Italy.

Living Conditions

Despite these developments, the old values persisted in the daily practice of the dinner, which served as a concrete display of family cohesion, commitment, and affection. The main meal was a “family communion.” Southern europeans, and southern Italian in particular, came to America with a strong regard for the value of food. They were fully aware of the human work necessary to coax it from the land, as well as how the ground would occasionally deny them. In America, despite being away from the land, the Italian nonetheless struggled for his food, laboring for low salaries in the country’s most difficult jobs (Pizzato, 2019). The family supper was an opportunity to share the rewards of that effort, and participation was required for the Italian. On weekends, Italian children frequently stayed home for lunch, despite the fact that they could eat for free in the school canteen.

The huge majority of migrants strains resource in the locations where they have landed. For example, metropolitan areas got crowded as newcomers sought work and other economic benefits. The bustling cities drew these immigrants, some of whom lacked the financial means to purchase suitable property. Cities such as New York struggled to retain jobs, accommodation, and other key infrastructure owing to high consumption and overcrowding(Pizzato, 2019). Immigrant like the Baldizzis had a difficult time adjusting to life in New York. Adolfo lost his carpenter job and had to rely on little manual labor few days a week to make ends meet.

The household struggled to raise a child in terrible circumstances. The Baldizzis’ existence in New York was difficult, according to the Tenement Museum: “in the flat, the household had a cold water water sink, but no restroom and no bathroom.” Their kid, Josephine, was working hard at an immigrant-only school and recounted their household predicament.

Cultural Diversity

The first cultural clash for Italian immigrants was residential building: they were accustomed to investing the majority of their time outdoors. Things were very unique in New York. They had to share a bedroom, spend the entire day in the same apartment, and sleep properly in the same space. For most Italian, it was an incomprehensible spectacle. They were, nonetheless, determined to alter their circumstances. Second, the cultural and theological differences represented a significant cultural change. Italians faced discrimination because of their language and stereotyped emotions. They were separated from other european immigrants and those from Africa in institutions. To maintain its position, they had to acquire new cultures such as English and French. Their Catholic faith was not preserved: they were damaged and burned by whites(Cawley et al., 2019). Some were forced to undergo the ordeal, while others have been returned to Italy.


For both skilled and non- skilled Italian migrants, New York and other thriving cities offered a safe shelter. The municipality desperately needed employees, and the Ministry of Public Works benefited significantly from the migration. The majority of individuals immigrated in the late nineteenth century and the first two generations of the twentieth century. The sleeping circumstances, social routine, culture, and treatments all caused culture shock for newcomers (discrimination). As proven by the Baldizzis household, the incidents did not prevent them from learning and obtaining higher employment. They persisted and eventually benefited from official work and self-employment until the United States implemented the National Origins Act in 1924. Italians contributed significantly to the development of the cities to which they came, earning them national prominence in modern-day America.


Cawley, A., Lima, H., Kruglikova, O., & Birkner, T. (2019). The “New” newspapers. The Handbook of European Communication History, 43-59.

Frager, R. (2019). 5. Communities and conflicts: East European Jewish immigrants in Ontario and Quebec from the late 1800s through the 1930s. Canada’s Jews, 52-74.

Pizzato, M. (2019). Modern realisms and anti-realisms (Late 1800s to early 1900s). Mapping Global Theatre Histories, 181-200.


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