The Chicago Foreign Language Press Survey was published in 1942 by the Chicago Public Library Omnibus Project of the Works Progress Administration of Illinois. The purpose of the project was to translate and classify selected news articles that appeared in the foreign language press from 1855 to 1938. The project consists of 120,000 typewritten pages translated from newspapers of 22 different foreign language communities of Chicago.

Read more about this historic project.

Filter by Date

  • Illinois Staats-Zeitung -- August 22, 1873
    The Lazzarones from Chicago

    The poor boys and girls who have suddenly been transplanted from their sunny homeland "far down South" into our rough climate, and have to secure through begging and singing a sum sufficient to save them from punishment on their return home, have become recently an object of public attention.

    A reporter from the Staats Zeitung went yesterday to interview the Italian Consul, Mr. Cella, an educated and friendly gentleman. Here is what Mr. Cella had to say: "In my opinion most of the reports concerning the Italian musician street children are exaggerated. My compatriots and I feel deeply the degradation of the life of these children. It is true that these children must bring home a certain sum every evening to escape 2punishment; it is also true that this roaming about causes the moral ruin of these children; but it is not true that there are here from 400 to 500 children, who depend on their "padrone" and belong to him. The total number of Italian inhabitants here does not exceed 4,000. The number of children musicians, according to my estimate, runs from 125 to 150, and most of them are under the supervision, not of a padrone, but of their parents.

    "To my mind," concluded Mr. Cella, "the only way to stop this practice is to have a city ordinance passed forbidding begging by playing music." Mr. Cella's plan seems very sensible to us. But we do not consider it a mitigating circumstance even if the "slaveholders" are not strangers but the parents of the children. We hope that the Italians will put an end to taking advantage of these children.

    C. Hoffmann

    The poor boys and girls who have suddenly been transplanted from their sunny homeland "far down South" into our rough climate, and have to secure through begging and singing a ...

    Italian
    I B 3 c, I B 3 b, I H
  • L'italia -- August 04, 1894
    Italian Boys under Arrest

    Our friend, Chas. G. Brune writes to us from Savanna, Ill.:

    "Friday morning, Frank Kerney, town marshall and a good friend of the Italians in this town, called me to the town lock-up to see two Italians, brothers, who had been picked up on the streets without a shirt to their backs.

    In answer to my question they told me they were from Chicago, that they lived with their parents at 702 Indiana St. and their names were Pasquale and Raffaele Caraccia, ten and six years of age respectively. Their parents had given them an organ and sent them out to play and beg from town to town. Everything had gone fairly well until they arrived in Dubuque, Iowa, where they were set upon by a gang of older boys who smashed the organ and stripped their shirts off their backs and in that condition they were driven out of town.

    2

    Because of their appearance, they could not convince trainmen of their desperate need, and so they had taken to walking back to Chicago.

    I bought them some much needed clothing and the town marshall paid their way to Chicago and by new I hope that they are safely at home with their family."

    When will Italian parents stop making such a disgraceful show of themselves for the American's amusement and condemnation?

    Our friend, Chas. G. Brune writes to us from Savanna, Ill.: "Friday morning, Frank Kerney, town marshall and a good friend of the Italians in this town, called me to ...

    Italian
    I B 3 b, I B 3 c
  • L'italia -- January 19, 1901
    An Irresponsible Father

    Because Luigia Messina and her three children, according to her story, had not brought home enough money to satisfy her husband, who, in eleven years of idleness had lived off the earnings of his wife and children, he threw them out of their home. The Hanson Street Police, at which station Mrs. Messina found shelter, are looking for the husband, and hope that the mother and daughter will testify as to his unfatherly acts.

    Because Luigia Messina and her three children, according to her story, had not brought home enough money to satisfy her husband, who, in eleven years of idleness had lived off ...

    Italian
    I B 3 c, I B 3 b
  • L'italia -- May 21, 1904
    A Dirty Family

    In the Juvenile Court, Natale Izzo and his wife were ordered by Judge Duvne to keep off the streets with their organ for thirty days, and to give their home and persons a thorough cleansing. According to the Hull House Social Worker, who haled the couple before the Judge, the Home is in a deplorably filthy-condition, and the four children are left to run wild, while the parents walk the streets earning a living with a hand-organ.

    The accused had no word to say in defense of their behaviour, but the sixteen-year old daughter, Mary, who follow the parents in their travels about the city, declared that although it was not altogether pleasant to pick up money tossed down by kind listeners, still she did not bewail her lot.

    The presence of Annie Carlo, known as the 'Queen of Little Italy', who spoke to the Judge in their defense, failed to sway him in his decision.

    The Judge also decreed that the children, for thirty days, be cared for by relatives or in a public institution.

    In the Juvenile Court, Natale Izzo and his wife were ordered by Judge Duvne to keep off the streets with their organ for thirty days, and to give their home ...

    Italian
    I B 3 c, I B 3 b, II D 6
  • L'italia -- December 10, 1904
    Italian Parents Fined

    Several Italian parents were fined by Judge Hurley for allowing their children to be absent from school.

    School Inspector, F. S. Capparelli, has been carrying on a campaign against this practice. He discovered that parents were sending their children out on the streets with organ-grinders for whom they begged coins from kindly disposed pedestrians.

    Several Italian parents were fined by Judge Hurley for allowing their children to be absent from school. School Inspector, F. S. Capparelli, has been carrying on a campaign against this ...

    Italian
    I B 3 b, I A 1 a, I B 3 c
  • La Tribuna Italiana -- August 12, 1905
    Three Italian Families Were Starving While $800 Hung on the Robe of the Blessed Virgin at the Solemn Festival of Melrose Park

    Last Monday, The Record-Herald, one of the most influential newspapers of Chicago, told of two Italian families that were in dire circumstances. A policeman found Vito Vittoria of 2122 Armour Avenue, his wife and children, the eldest 5 years, without food in the house. The father has consumption and the mother, a laundress, is incapable of supporting the family. The baby will soon die of hunger. Francisco Gotto of 2123 Clark Street, is sick and his wife is bedridden. This family is also without any food.

    2

    The Chicago Daily News last Monday, told of an Italian, Filomena Masoa, of 397 La Salle Street, and four children who were found starving to death. The poor woman was forced to ask for assistance at an American charitable institution, which undertook to care for one of her children. Her husband left for the country in search of work sometime ago, and left his wife $5.00 with which she fed herself and children.

    While these Italians were starving, others were pinning money on the Robe of the Blessed Virgin, to the amount of $800, because of their terrible fear of hell, and disputing among themselves for the honor of carrying the saint upon their shoulders in the procession.

    Last Monday, The Record-Herald, one of the most influential newspapers of Chicago, told of two Italian families that were in dire circumstances. A policeman found Vito Vittoria of 2122 Armour ...

    Italian
    I B 3 c, II D 10, I B 4, III C
  • La Parola dei Socialisti -- April 12, 1913
    An Open Letter to the Italian Consul in Chicago

    Mr. Consul,

    I am sure that my letters must give you much pleasure, and so now I shall keep the promise which I made in my last letter; I am going to write about the Arabs in Chicago.

    There, Mr. Consul! I hope that you will judge impartially what I shall modestly indite. And so, Mr. Consul, a few years ago there was a small colony of Arabs at the northeast corner of Polk and Canal streets in this city. I must admit that they were much better civilized than the Italians both hygienically and morally, for in my walks through that neighborhood, on weekdays and Sundays, I could not help noticing the neat and clean appearance of the men and the women. The elegance of their dress and their clean houses attracted the admiration of all passersby. Do I make myself clear, Mr. Consul? Very well! Two blocks away from the Arabs lived then andlive now our highly civilized Italian compatriots, of that race which is now trying to bestow its civilization on Lybia and Tripoli, and I think that it 2would be very interesting to compare the two races and to determine which has the greater need of being civilized.

    The following facts are a matter of common knowledge. When it comes to dirt and filth the Italian is unsurpassed, and I am well acquainted with a number of families that are, to say the least, disgusting. I shall describe one family which was known to me personally because it was from my native province of Calabria, the Africa of Italy. My friend, the master of the house, an honest and sober worker, had a four-room flat which sheltered him, his wife, two daughters, and five boarders. Other occupants were six rabbits which left their feces all over the house. Under the bed in the living-room were piled old shoes and rags which the wife and daughters had picked up in the streets and alleys, and which were to be used for fuel in the coming winter.

    3

    The description of this family would fit thousands of others.

    And so, Mr. Consul, can you who have been to Africa, say that you have seen anything to compare with this? I am sure that you have not. Everyone knows that these conditions are found only among us. Further than that, the less said about our blood feuds, the better. In regard to religious superstition one needs to live in the Italian quarter in order to see the nauseating spectacle of the indecent peasantry which with its lousy saints and madonnas is the laughing-stock of Americans.

    And who is to blame for these conditions? The Italian Government and the House of Savoy, which in fifty years have done nothing but create misery and misfortune. Furthermore, do you know that in this country there is no one who bothers himself about these unfortunate countrymen of ours?

    4

    I suppose that you would be glad to have me stop writing these letters. Very well, in my next letter I shall tell you how to stop them.

    Meanwhile I salute you. Believe me your friend and love.

    Giuseppe Orrico.

    Mr. Consul, I am sure that my letters must give you much pleasure, and so now I shall keep the promise which I made in my last letter; I am ...

    Italian
    I M, I B 3 c, II E 2, I B 4, III H, I C
  • Vita Nuova -- [Unknown date]
    Choosing a Profession

    To the ever increasing number of Italian-Americans, who are venturing out into the world, the question of choosing a profession which shall be both remunerative and consistent with their likes and dislikes is a very difficult one. The problem is made more acute because of an inadequate comprehension of just what the word "profession" embraces, and just what other fields are open in addition to the over-crowded field of law and medicine. Time has brought no abatement in the number of young men seeking to become doctors or lawyers, while other and oftentimes more attractive, if not more lucrative professions, are sadly in need of new talent.

    Perhaps the principal reason for the glamour surrounding the professions of law and medecine is the legendary respect inculcated in the hearts of our immigrants for those professions in Italy. In the small communities of the old country, where most of our immigrants come from, the lawyers and the doctors represented the highest leadership and commanded the greatest respect. The business man, on the other hand, was considered a lower order in the social scale, until recently young men in Italy, who could afford an education, invariably entered these professions.

    2

    The immigrant seeks to do for his child in America what for lack of means he could not do for himself in Italy; make him a lawyer or a doctor in keeping with tradition.

    Much of this that might be called sentimental attachment for the two professions, the only professions in the minds of many, is still noticeable and many mothers and fathers doggedly insist that their boy shall be a "dottore" or an "avvocato". The result has been an influx into those fields that has created some rather unfortunate conditions. Thousands of them earn little more, if as much as the average man with a good trade, and many more earn appreciably less than the go-getting business man. Many have impelled themselves only half trained into the practice of law or medicine and, along with the others of other nationalities, have induced a lowering of the standards all along the line. A reaction has been in the stiffening of requirements and qualifications and the tightening of bar and medical board examinations. Some of the applicants inadequately prepared and over-anxious to break through, fail and attribute their failure to prejudice against them on account of race. There may be some grounds to this charge, but it can not be made generally applicable.

    3

    Later phases of psychology, dealing especially with vocational guidance, promise to help a great deal in pointing out to the ambitious young man the right road; but science must first have a tilt with superstition if the historical glamour of medicine and law, as it affects the Italian, is to be destroyed. Of course, we need new talent coming into these professions, but it must be regulated in proportion to its value. The multiplicity of American life, its variegated industrial and business activities, offer many interesting and remunerative lines of endeavor to young men.

    There is need of more Italians in the field of journalism, social service, engineering, and the various commercial fields. These fields have been elevated to the dignity of a profession and, after all, the greatest profession in America is neither law nor medicine, but business.

    The great majority of American young men is going into business. Our Italian youth should follow their example.

    To the ever increasing number of Italian-Americans, who are venturing out into the world, the question of choosing a profession which shall be both remunerative and consistent with their likes ...

    Italian
    II A 1, I B 3 c, I D 1 a, I B 3 b, V A 2, I C
  • La Fiamma -- [Unknown date]
    The Cry

    For the past six months I have been busy making a study of "Us", who call ourselves Italians. In that time I have been able to gather certain information which precisely defines "We, the Italians in America". This information was acquired from authoritative sources, and is sufficient to give a thorough but uncomplimentary picture of us and for that reason I am not going to show it entirely. But in order that the reader may follow me on this journey with the Italians in America, it is necessary that we consider the foregoing words a prelude to a stormy voyage.

    The first question that presented itself to my mind in studying this problem of the Italians in America was - why and wherefore Italians in America? Going back over the path made by the Italian immigrants, I found myself in southern Italy. The path leading out of northern Italy was made by such a small percentage of those emigrating, that I decided to concentrate on the south. Therefore, this discussion is based largely on those who were born under the beautiful southern sky of my mother country.

    The social, economic and geographic conditions of America were, in many cases, 2unknown to the majority of my Italian brothers. Therefore, I had to reject the idea that they had been desirous of going to an unknown land. I also discovered that those who had gone to America, had not gone for the purpose of assuming any social responsibility; they had merely emigrated their bodies and changed their place of employment, but their souls had remained in Italy. Following more closely the tracks of these immigrants, I found occasional traces that appeared American. With this suspicion in mind and with the desire of knowing the character of this America that had walked alongside so many Italians, I followed its direction and soon found myself in America.

    Still keeping in view the shadow of my suspect, I left the track of the Italian immigrant, knowing that I could easily pick it up again, and followed that which, undoubtedly, was made by the foot of an American.

    The foot-prints had finally led me to my destination. I found myself in front of a sumptuous palace. The richly liveried footman stopped me at the door. "My master, the mine-owner, is not at home", he replied in answer to my question. I asked him where I could find him. "Probably at the Millionaires' Club. But I doubt whether you can speak to him. Since his trip to Italy with the owners of 3the railroads and steamship lines, he has found such a close friendship with them, that he will have very little, if any, time to talk to you." Having gotten all the information for which I was searching, I decided to journey among the Italians in America.

    Since the time of readers is limited and since this periodical is circulated mostly in the Middle West, I shall ask the reader to please accompany me on a tour among the Italians of Chicago. On this tour you shall witness scenes that can be duplicated in New York and other large cosmopolitan centers of America.

    There are 200,000 Italians in Chicago, divided into four groups. Of that number, seventy-three per cent are laborers. That includes all those who, according to the laws of Illinois, are of working age. Twenty-two per cent are illiterates. Nine per cent are physically handicapped and seven per cent have criminal records. These figures, although not exact, are very close to the truth and the difference, if any, is very small. Going a bit further, we find that three organizations have issued statistics on the amount of money necessary to a family of more than five for a year. This sum, which covers every possible expenditure, is necessary 4to live, not comfortably, but decently. Of the three figures arrived at, that of the National Industrial Conference is the lowest with $1,697.95.

    The average pay of the laborer is $.50 per hour. With a twenty per cent loss of time for one reason or another throughout the year, the laborer earns about $1,050. Therefore, seventy-three per cent earn $500 less than the sum necessary for a decent livelihood. Consequently, the result is as follows:

    Obliged to live in houses too small for the number of persons in a family, the small house means -

    (1) Insufficient ventilation.

    (2) Difficulty in keeping it clean.

    (3) Danger of immorality.

    Obliged to eat food which, in many cases, is deficient in nutritive value especially for children, this fact is largely responsible for the fourteen per cent physically deficient individuals. (By physically deficient, we also mean those who fall below the scientific requirements for height and weight.)

    5

    Obliged to abandon school as soon as the law allows them to seek employment, is another reason for their poverty. Summing up these facts, we are still faced with a solution of the problem. The problem is that because of a lack of education, the seventy-three per cent of laborers will be increased. Because of an insufficient amount of good food and ignorance of hygiene, physical deficiency will increase. Because of a lack of courage and the augmenting of poverty, (not a lack of courage to face hard work) there will be an increase in the seven per cent of criminal delinquents.

    Many have been called upon to give a solution to this enormous and dangerous problem. The Government of the United States has answered the call; but to date, without any success. The proprietors of the Trans-Atlantic lines, the railroads, and the mines, answered the call; but without enthusiasm for the solution of this problem. They, who answered with all their hearts and souls, and with open purses, were the Christians of America. But, unfortunately, even this did not bring about the desired results; because the majority of Italians are not Christian and if they believe otherwise, they believe falsely. Practically they do not show it.

    6

    My dear Italians, I must halt at this point, because to continue this journey would be fatiguing. I ask your kind indulgence if I have taken you to see landscapes that did not please you, and if in order to conduct you to the place which I had chosen, I was forced to lead you through by-ways that were dark and dirty. I rest with the hope that in some future journey, we shall find better paths and more beautiful landscapes. And, while I am on the subject, allow me to say one thing more.

    I would that you reflected yourselves in the mirror of modern civilization. You would undoubtedly see many traditions that are not now in use. You would see yourselves slaves of a religion that never has and never will make you Christians. You will see yourselves placed under the same conditions as your ancestors, who were abused in their ignorance. Do not try to follow something new with an old system. Do not try to be ashamed of yourselves. Do not allow the cry of Jeremiah to be heard again, after Jesus came to dry his tears; but instead, go in search of Jesus that he may dry your tears. Do not immerse yourselves in your traditions, which, for the most part, carry a taint of ridicule and ignorance. I have seen you many times in your processions carrying the saints and never in the ranks have I seen those on whom the good future of the nation depends entirely. I have 7seen politicians who hoped through religion to better their political standing, and I have seen merchants who, to me, resembled those whom Jesus drove out of the temple of Jerusalem.

    I have seen you in long files that resembled the files of prisoners I saw during the war, and I thought that you were actually prisoners of that liberty which America has given to those who have come to enjoy it. And I wept, because, like you, I am Italian, because as an immigrant I carry in my kit many of the troubles that are also yours. I wept because I have your best interests at heart.

    For the past six months I have been busy making a study of "Us", who call ourselves Italians. In that time I have been able to gather certain information which ...

    Italian
    I C, II B 2 d 2, I A 1 a, I B 3 c, II A 2, II E 2, I B 4, III C, III G, V A 1, I E, I M, IV
  • Mens Italica -- [Unknown date]
    Worthy Italian-American Neighbors

    There is reason, and it is high time for those who know our Italian fellow-citizens and appreciate their good qualities, to speak out in their behalf. By living among them, and working with them at Chicago Commons for more than thirty years, I have had the opportunity to learn the best and worst traits of their character and conduct.

    This personal acquaintance places me under obligation to my Italian neighbors and fellow-citizens, as well as to my home city, to tell what I know of them and say what I think of them, now that a very small minority is causing the great majority of them to be cruelly misunderstood and unjustly judged.

    2

    Everywhere in Italy, and here in America, Italians are a family folk. Their kinship is real, vital, affectionate and lifelong. Parents love their children, not always wisely, but passionately. They work hard and long, many of them to give the younger generations better advantages in America than they of the first generation of immigrants had on either side of the sea. And their children expect, and are expected, to provide for their parents. The Italian immigrant's first earnings are usually shared with the old folks at home.

    The married immigrant saves enough by economizing on his living expenses here, to support his wife and children in Italy, until he can pay for their voyage to America so that they can join him in starting home life here. Then, as one and another family circle begins to earn, a son and daughter add their wages to the family fund. Often the mother receives the unopened pay envelopes of father and children for household expenses and returns only 3a fraction of the week's wage for the personal expenses of each. A short-sighted Americanism complains of "the loss" of the money sent abroad, failing to appreciate that America has gained by this industrious thrift habit, and by the family love and loyalty thus cultivated and expressed.

    A Family Neighborly Folk

    Italians are neighbors to one another to a greater extent than most--if not all--people of other races. Their rural villagers and city dwellers alike possess that elemental instinct which causes them to cling to the neighborly relationship. The emigrant clings to it more consciously and tenaciously when leaving the fatherland, and shrinks from losing it while seeking to perpetuate it upon his coming to this strange land. In most cases, his only guiding policy is to go where his kinsfolk or neighbors have gone before him. His destination 4is where they happen to live. Whatever port he enters, he enters only to set foot on their threshold. He is hospitably taken into the family circle until he gains his foothold.

    They maintain their fellowship by sharing each other's joys at family festivals, at weddings, at baptisms, and at birthdays. By floral offerings and attendance at funerals, respect for the dead and sympathy for the living never fail to be displayed by every friend of both.

    Italians are naturally devoutly religious. They identify their church with their home and neighborhood. There they are at home. There the babe is brought for baptism, there the maid and her man come to be married, and from there the dead are taken for burial. The neighborhood is the parish. Its priest is as friendly as was the padre in the little hilltop parish where his parishioners grew up. The sanctuary worship and feasts inspire the little nativity shrine in the home circle and in the shop window, as well as the festa celebrated by every benefit order in 5honor of its patron saint.

    Familiar with art and music as expressions of religious feeling and aspiration, the Italian is inspired to create love, and to appreciate song and artistic beauty. Among the masses of the people of no other race among us, least of all among our American-born people, is there any such familiarity with operatic music, or appreciation for sculpture and painting, as there is among Italian wage-workers.

    Conservative and Good Citizens

    The American citizenship of the Italians, like that of other foreign-born citizens, is better or worse according to the good or bad influences to which the immigrant is subjected during the early years of his experience in America. The man through whom he gets his first employment or under whom he works, usually interprets for the newcomer his first impressions of our political standards and practices.

    This "boss" is usually a partisan politician, who leads or drives the immigrant laborer to believe that his job depends upon his vote. Any higher 6ideals of citizenship reach the foreign laborer too late, if at all, and too superficially to prompt his declaration of independence.

    As the padrone gradually loses control of the Americanized foreign-born worker, and seldom controls the worker's children, the political "boss" eventually fails to exercise autocratic control over those who at first depended upon him for their very living. One of our political ward "bosses," long since overthrown, sang his "swan song" in this lament: "There's no telling what those immigrants will do inside the voting booth".

    The great mass of Italian citizens are conservative, and are loyal Americans. But from Sicily, a lawless element has imported survivors of a lawlessness that has existed there longer than elsewhere because of weak and corrupt governments. Self protection at first drove self-respecting men to avenge themselves for injuries inflicted upon them. This demonstrated self-reliance. Failure to do so was looked upon with contempt. This expediency of self-protection against mis-government 7in earlier times evolved into the terrorizing agency of both crime and misrule.

    For Justice to Sicilians

    But the great majority of our good American citizens of Sicilian birth justly protested against being suspected of having any part or lot with these parasites of their race, from whose lawlessness they themselves have suffered most. Yet racial prejudice often causes unjust suspicion of all Sicilians--if not all other Italians--implying that they are accomplices of the very criminals whom they abhor.

    In our united effort to rid our land of this blood revenge and blackmail, we must not forget how long we have tolerated similar forms of American lawlessness. We have not yet dispensed with "strong-arm" ruffians on either side of our industrial conflicts. Antagonists seeking "personal satisfaction" have not long been extinct.

    Lynch law still survives, while Congress hesitates to stamp it out. The 8Ku-Klux are still abroad in the land. Bootlegger, gunmen and other assassins, not a few, bear other than Sicilian names. It will not help us to punish and deport the guilty if we are unjust to the innocent or if we discourage their loyal co-operation and support of American ideals.

    There is reason, and it is high time for those who know our Italian fellow-citizens and appreciate their good qualities, to speak out in their behalf. By living among them, ...

    Italian
    III G, II B 1 a, I B 3 b, I B 3 c, II A 2, II D 6, II D 9, II E 2, I B 4, I F 6, III A, III C, V A 1, I C