The Italian Americans

About The Series

Episode 1: La Famiglia Roots (1880 – 1910)

Boats in a harbor

A brief history of the Italian Risorgimento provides the context for the great flight from the mezzogiorno region, as well as the roots of the first generation's distinctive psychology. Through the travels of Italian migrant workers, we understand the transnational nature of these "Birds of Passage." By the late 19th century, Italians begin to put down roots. "Little Italy's" spring up in urban areas throughout the U.S. But the first generation holding onto their language and culture are branded as "outsiders" and mistrusted by non-Italians.

In New Orleans, this mistrust explodes into violence, where eleven Italian Americans are murdered by an armed mob. While in San Francisco, a second generation Italian American saves his community from disaster while creating one of the greatest financial institutions in America. Italian immigrants and their children start to become Italian Americans.