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.
By 1870, there were about 25,000 Italian immigrants in America, many of
them Northern Italian refugees from the wars that accompanied the Risorgimentothe 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 alonethe 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 shore up a subway
tunnel under New York's East River.
Source: Destination America by Charles A. Wills