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C U R R I C U L U M    M A T E R I A L S

Louis J. Broccolo


Main Ideas
Italians have been in Chicago since the 1850s. However, the ancestors of most Chicago Italians came after 1880, and like many other immigrant groups, they found opportunities in the industries and railroads of the nation's fastest-growing major city. In spite of being consistently outnumbered by other ethnic and racial groups, the ethnic identity of Chicago's Italians has survived "beyond the melting pot" as they have struggled to earn respect.

Connection with the Curriculum
This material could be used in general U.S. history courses, Illinois and Chicago history courses, courses on immigration, and courses on prejudice and discrimination or the interaction between different racial and ethnic groups.

Teaching Level
Grades 8-12

Materials for Each Student

A copy of the narrative portion of the article

Activities 1 - 7

Objectives for Each Student

Explore the history of Italian immigrants and their descendants in Chicago

Understand the general history of immigration to this country (and to realize that much of our country's history is a history of immigration)

Identify the contributions that Chicago's Italians have made to our social, cultural, political, and economic history

Understand how technological developments (Industrial Revolution, railroad building, etc.) influenced immigration patterns

Understand how the history and contributions of Chicago's Italians fits into the larger pattern of American history

Compare and contrast the student's family history and experience with


The Immigration Experience

that of his or her ethnic group as a whole, as it applies to the Chicago area, and then into the larger pattern of American history

Analyze how the experiences, goals, problems, triumphs, etc. of Chicago's Italians are alike and different from those of other racial and ethnic groups, not only in the past but today

The article and activities should be used with materials on other ethnic and racial groups so that students can understand the things that all the different groups have in common that is probably more important than any differences. It will also help to better motivate for the majority of students, since most of them in any particular class are probably not of Italian ancestry.

The activities range from easy to more difficult, and can be adapted by the teacher to fit different ability levels.

Opening the Lesson
Students should read the article (or the teacher could highlight certain key parts and summarize it with them).

The first and second handouts have the students using factual material from the article to locate the origins of Chicago's Italians and where they are located in the Chicago area.

Show the movie "The Immigrant Experience: The Long, Long Journey" (Learning Coproration Of America, $59.00. Contact Social Studies School Service,10200 Jefferson Blvd., P. 0. Box 802, Culver City, CA 90232-0802, Phone: 1-800-421-4226). It is a wonderful thirty-minute movie about a Polish immigrant family in the early-twentieth century, and it can be used to show how the immigrant experience was very similar among many groups. Parts of "The Godfather - Part II" can be used, but edit carefully. The scenes showing Vito Corleone coming to Ellis Island as a boy and those showing the feste in New York's Little Italy are particularly good. Be sure to show only those parts.

After the film the students can complete and then discuss Activities 3 and 4 with general questions on immigration and specific ones concerning the movie. They will need to have read some sources on immigration, possibly from their textbooks.

Activity 5 asks for more specific information from the article, while Activity 6 also asks the students to draw some conclusions; this should lead to some interesting discussions.

Activity 7 is the culminating activity where the students as historians get to put what they have learned to use and pull it all together as they complete a family history.

Developing the Lesson

Allow students either class time or homework time to complete activities.

Some activities should lead to discussions showing how the past relates to the present.

The maps could be duplicated for an overhead projector. Students will need an outside source (book, atlas, etc.) to complete the maps.

The teacher may wish to modify the family history project, since some students will be unable to locate much family history. One way is to have those students do a modified paper on their ethnic group and use the current generation of their family in the paper.

Concluding the Lesson

Have the students write one or two paragraphs describing what they learned from all of this, particularly the family history project.

Depending on time limitations, students could make brief oral presentations to the class.

Extending the Lesson

Students could make displays using photographs, documents, etc. to show some of their family history. Explain to them how to protect any original and/or valuable "things" they might use.

Visit Hull House on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus, the Chicago Historical Society, or one or more of the numerous ethnic museums in the Chicago area.

Assessing the Lesson

Discuss with the students how history is made, no matter how big the topic or issue, by individual people just like themselves. They should have a better understanding of that after seeing how their own families and ethnic groups contributed to the history of Chicago and Illinois, and in turn to the history of the United States. To paraphrase one the characters in the recent film, "Amistad", "We are what we were."


Activity 1 - Origins of Chicago's Italians

The article mentions a number of cities and/or regions in Italy as the origins of many of Chicago's Italians. Locate and label the cities listed. Color the region as directed.

City Region
  Basilicata - Blue
  Calabria - Green
Naples/Salerno Campania - Orange
Modena Emilia-Romangna - Purple
Genoa Liguria - Yellow
  Marches - Pink
  Piedmont - Brown
Palermo Sicily - Gray
Lucca Tuscany - Red

Colorable Map of Italy


Activity 2 - Location of Italians in Chicago Area

Lady Praying

The article lists a number of areas in Chicago and the suburbs where Italians settled or live now. Label the area or suburb (using the numbers) and then shade it in lightly with a pen or pencil.

Blue Island -1
Chicago Heights - 2
Elmwood Park - 4
Evergreen Park - 5
(Hull House) Far Northwest Side - 6
Melrose Park - 8
Merchandise Mart Area - 9
Near North Side -10
Near Northwest Side -11
Near West Side -12
Roseland/Pullman -13
South End of Loop -14
Twenty-fourth and Oakley -15

Match the Italian church to the area or suburb (using the numbers).

Assumption ___
Holy Guardian Angel ___
Our Lady of Mount Carmel ___
Our Lady of Pompeii ___
St. Anthony of Padua ___
St. Philip Benizi ___
Santa Maria Addolorata ___
Santa Maria Incoronata __

Chicago and Surrounding Suburbs


Activity 3 - Immigration

Old Man thinking

  1. List some of the ethnic groups who came to the United States as part of the "old immigration" (those before 1880).

  2. List some of the ethnic groups who came to the United States as part of the "new immigration" (those after 1880).

  3. List some of the ethnic groups who are coming to the United States now or in the past twenty-thirty years.

  4. What similarities and differences do you see in the experiences of these diverse groups?

  5. Why did people come to the United States in the past?

  6. Why are people coming to the United States today?

  7. What conclusions can you draw from your answers to the two previous questions?


Activity 4
"The Immigrant Experience;
The Long, Long Journey"

View the movie "The Immigrant Experience: The Long, Long Journey" with the class.

  1. What sacrifices did the family make to come to America?

  2. What sacrifices did the family make in order to survive in America? List the family as individuals and state what particular sacrifice each member of the family made.

  3. A. You know your family's history. What sacrifices did members of your family make in the past?

    B. What sacrifices does your family or someone you know make in order to survive today?

  4. A. List some similarities your family (past or present) has with the family in the movie.

    B. List some similarities the family in the movie has with immigrants coming to the United States today.



Activity 5 - Chicago's Italian Personalities

Italian names

Match the person on the left with the description on the right.

A. Frank Annunzio

B. Italo Balbo

C. Joseph Bernardin

D. Nicholas Bua

E. Mother Cabrini

F. Al Capone

G. Harry Caray

H. Jerome Cosentinc

I. Dino D'Angelo

J. Dominick DeMatteo

K. Enrico Fermi

L. Virginio Ferrari

M. Armando Pierini

N. Robert Remini

O. Salvatore Rotella

P. Florence Scala

Q. Ron Turano

__ 1. Creator of a real estate empire; philanthropist

__ 2. Veronese sculptor

__ 3. Cardinal, Archbishop of Chicago

__ 4. Catholic saint; founder of hospital on West Side

__ 5. Leader of fruitless battle to save neighborhood from the new U. of I. Campus

__ 6. "The Leading Italian American Congressman"

__ 7. Nuclear scientist

__ 8. Italian flyer who visited Chicago's World's Fair in 1933

__ 9. Founder of Sacred Heart Seminary and Villa Scalabrini

__ 10. Infamous Chicago gangster

__ 11. Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago

__ 12. Former federal judge

__ 13. Owner of bread company

__ 14. Turned small grocery store into giant supermarket chain

__ 15. First Italian American to be elected to a statewide office

__ 16. Noted professor; writer of numerous books on Andrew Jackson

__ 17. Sportscaster

Key: See page 48.


Activity 6 - Chicago Italians at Work

  1. Make a list of the many occupations mentioned in this article in which Italians in Chicago were engaged.

    A. What occupations predominate?

    B. What occupations are not in evidence?

    C. What conclusions can you draw from A and B?

  2. Ask your teacher or the public library (through inter-library loan if the library does not have it) to get you a copy of Giovanni C. Schiavo, The Italians in Chicago: A Study in Americanization (Chicago: Italian American Publishing Company, 1928). Arno Press issued a reprint in 1975. Besides the many interesting things about Chicago's Italians in the book, there is a list of the leading Italian businesses in Chicago. Read over the list.

    A. What kinds of businesses dominate the list?

    B. Does that seem to substantiate what was in the article?

    C. Look at the pictures of the prominent Italian Americans and their brief biographies. What professions are emphasized?

    D. (a) What do you think the overall purpose of Schiavo's book was meant to be?

    (b) What part or parts of the article does the purpose of Schiavo's book tend to support?

Another book of interest here is Lisi Cipriani, Selected Directory of the Italians in Chicago (Chicago, 1929). Although it is harder to get (the Newberry Library has a copy), it is a fascinating short market guide listing 4,500 firms, stores, and professional men.

KEY to Activity 5, page 47:
11; L2; C3; E4; P5; A6; K7; B8; M9; F10;
011; D12; Q13; J14; H15; N16; G17.

Working in the Italian Villiages


Activity 7 - Family and Ethnic History Project

Birth, Marriage, Death

Now it is your chance to be the historian. Hopefully, this project will make the study of immigration more exciting and meaningful. As you gain a greater understanding of your own family's history and how that history has shaped and influenced you, you will also develop a greater appreciation for history in general. The project will also give you the opportunity to use a wide variety of sources, both primary and secondary. You will actually be the historian.

Since this is part of your study on immigration, you should have background material from your class discussions, readings, etc. However, there are some key questions you need to ask before you begin.

What do I already know about my family history?
What kinds of things do I want to know?
Where can I find that information?
What can I use as source material?

Specifics of this assignment:

Make a chart showing your family genealogy. Include name, birth date, place of birth, when married, date of death, place of death. Go as far back in time as you can.

Complete the questionnaire with one or more relatives.

Complete general reading on your ethnic group in Chicago.

Write a five-page typed paper describing your family's history or some aspect of it. For example, compare and contrast your great-grandfather, grandfather, and father with respect to education, occupation, etc. Compare and contrast your mother's family with your father's family. Why did they come to America? Through out the paper you should compare and contrast your family with your ethnic group in Chicago (or the Chicago area). Does your family fit in with the general trends of your particular ethnic group? Integrate the general history of your ethnic group with your family history. Analyze what is going on; put things in perspective.

This assignment is not a family genealogy. Although a family genealogy can be part of this, it is no? the main focus. Do not dwell on who married whom, for example. Certainly, we do want details, facts. However, we want to learn something of the lifestyle of your family: where they lived; what they did for a living; changes in residences.

Sources to investigate:

Photo albums; family Bibles; letters; birth, baptismal, marriage, and death certificates; passports; immigration and naturalization papers; old bills; check stubs; wills; and court records. .

Oral interviews are another outstanding source, but be careful!

The final paper must include a bibliography of at least five sources. Oral interviews may be used along with other more standard works. Encyclopedias are not to be included. Good luck!

Two excellent books will help aid in your research on ethnic groups: Irving Cutler, Chicago: Metropolis of the Mid-Continent (3rd ed., Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1982) and Melvin G. Holli and Peter d'A Jones, Ethnic Chicago (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984 and later editions.). The bibliographies in these books are wonderful.


Activity 7 - continued

Name___________________________________ Date of Birth ___________________________________

From what country did they come? _______________________________________________________


Town and Region:___________________Urban or rural area?_____________________________________

Population of town?_____________How old were they? ________________________________________

Who did they come with? (Parents, etc.) _____________________________________________________

Who migrated?_____________ What year? _______________________________________

Port of departure from Europe _______________________________________________________________

Port of arrival in U.S._______________________________ Name of Ship _____________________________

Why did they come to America? ______________________________________________________________

What was their attitude? ____________________________________________________________________

What problems, etc., caused them to leave Europe? ______________________________________________

What did they expect to find? _________________________________________________________________

What was their "dream"?_____________________________________________________________________

Did they intend to stay permanently or were they planning to go back?_______________________________

Did they go back?___________________When?________________________________________________

Why did they return the second time?________________________________________________

Why did they come to Chicago (as opposed to staying out East?)______________________________

Did they know anyone here in advance? Who? _______________________________________________

Where in Chicago did they live? ________________________________________________

Did they change residences once they settled in Chicago? __________________________________

To what parish did they belong? ________________________________________________

What was their attitude toward religion and the church? ___________________________________

Did they choose to live with other people from their same village or region? ____________________


What was their occupation in Europe? ________________________________________________

How were they trained for their occupation in both countries? ________________________________

What education did they have in Europe?______________________________________________

in U.S.? ________________________________________________


How did they meet their spouse? ________________________________________________


Was marriage arranged?_________ Did they know spouse before they came to America?_________________

When did spouse arrive?_________ How old when they married?__________________________________


Activity 7 - continued

Information on his/her spouse, family, etc.

Name of Spouse_____________________________Date of Birth ______________________

Town and Region ________________________________________________

Year they or family came to America ________________________________________________

Additional Information ________________________________________________

What was their attitude toward other ethnic groups they encountered in America?



What was their feeling toward their children (second generation) marrying out of their ethnic group? _________


Did they speak English before coming to U.S.? What language was spoken as the principal language inthe home? _______________________________________________________________________

Did both parents speak English?_____________________ If not, why not? _______________________

Could children (second generation) speak the native language?___________________________________

Could the parents write their native language?____________________

Could they write English after learning to speak it? ______________________

Where were the children (second generation) sent to school? _________________________________________

What was the attitude of the parent toward education? ________________________________________________

How did they acquire property (land, residences, etc.)?________________________________________________


Briefly describe their attitude toward their native country.



Were they patriotic toward their native country? ________________________________________________

Did they consider themselves Europeans or Americans?________________________________________________

When did this transition take place?________________________________________________

When did they become citizens? ________________________________________________

Did they usually vote? ________________________________________________

Did they eventually feel that their dreams had come true? ________________________________________________

Did they believe they were truly better off in America compared to Europe? Why?_________________________


How did their attitudes change forty years after they came here? __________________________________________

Add any additional information you feel may be helpful. ________________________________________________



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