Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Destination America
US ImmigrationPersonal StoriesResourcesThe Program
Why do they come?When did they come?Take the quiz
When did they come?
1851-1860 Potato Famine

1861-1870 Land of Opportunity

1871-1880 Religious Freedom

1881-1890 The Age of Steam

1891-1900 Southern Italians

1900-1910 Russian Pogroms

European Emigration to the U.S. 1891 - 1900

Map depicting European emigration to the U.S. 1891-1900

Italian emigration was fueled by dire poverty. Life in Southern Italy, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia, offered landless peasants little more than hardship, exploitation, and violence. Even the soil was poor, yielding little, while malnutrition and disease were widespread.

Background
By 1870, there were about 25,000 Italian immigrants in America, many of them Northern Italian refugees from the wars that accompanied the Risorgimento—the struggle for Italian unification and independence from foreign rule. Between around 1880 and 1924, more than four million Italians immigrated to the United States, half of them between 1900 and 1910 alone—the majority fleeing grinding rural poverty in Southern Italy and Sicily. Today, Americans of Italian ancestry are the nation's fifth-largest ethnic group. Italian-American workers

Italian-American workers shore up a subway tunnel under New York's East River.


Source: Destination America by Charles A. Wills


Sources: Busch-AP, German guide-Minnesota Historical Society-CORBIS, fumigation-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Russian pogrom-Bettmann-CORBIS, Ship-Bettman/CORBIS, Book & Series: Destination America

©2005 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. | PBS Privacy Policy | Created September 2005