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 -- December 17, 1892
    [The Shoe-Shine Racket]

    We condemn the inhuman practice, indulged in by certain of our compatriots, of sending boys of 10 or 12 years of age, out on the streets to shine shoes. It has the tendency of creating delinquents, since these boys, in fear of the brutal beatings received when their earnings are below a certain amount will join with others in picking the pockets of pedestrians to assure themselves of the required sum.

    The usual procedure is to give the boy a box containing brush and polish. His master has probably any number of boys out on the main streets of the city at the same time. He is always a brutal, ignorant, uneducated beast who beats his boys without mercy whenever their earnings do not satisfy him. The boy's only renumeration is a scanty meal, a dirty cot and the rags on his back. The meal, he goes without, when he returns empty-handed.

    We condemn the inhuman practice, indulged in by certain of our compatriots, of sending boys of 10 or 12 years of age, out on the streets to shine shoes. It ...

    Italian
    I H, II E 2
  • L'italia -- September 30, 1894
    "Political Workers' Society"

    Vittorio E. Maggi and Vincenzo Lamantia, after a long struggle, have finally organized a "Political Workers' Society" (Societa Political Operaia.

    Members of this Club, generally known as "Sons of Labor", come from the Provinces of Aquila and Di Campobasso.

    This Society is organized for the moral and material welfare of Workers.

    It has been incorporated through the State Laws of Illinois, in order to assure the members of the rights given them.

    The purpose of this Club is:

    1. To organize the Italian Workers into a Fraternal Union.

    2. To obtain work for the unemployed.

    3. To assure a standardized wage.

    2

    4. To inform members, during the election of candidates, which will benefit them most.

    5. To have interpreters for the benefit of those who cannot read or write.

    6. To assure adequate compensation in the event of an accident while on the job.

    7. To help its members acquire their citizenship-papers.

    We urge every Italian Laborer to join this Union.

    Where there is union, there is Strength.

    Vittorio E. Maggi and Vincenzo Lamantia, after a long struggle, have finally organized a "Political Workers' Society" (Societa Political Operaia. Members of this Club, generally known as "Sons of Labor", ...

    Italian
    III B 2, II D 8, III A, I H, I J
  • L'italia -- January 02, 1895
    (No headline)

    Ten Years. (An Editorial).

    Ten Years! Much is the work we have accomplished, many the victories won, many the defeats experienced. Ten Years! An epoch of change in ideas and customs; but for this paper an epoch at the end of which it finds itself in the fore-front fighting the fight of the oppressed without a thought to any reward.

    During these ten years, we have had to change our tactics to meet the change in those of our opponents, but we still adhere to our program of liberty and justice with which we began our fight, a program which we shall continue to follow as a star that guides the lone traveler on his way.

    We have been the recipients of threats, but we have laughed them down, to persecutions we shrugged our shoulders, and temptations when they came too close, were made to feel the flame of our wrath, and fled like birds of the night at the appearance of dawn.

    2

    To do battle in a good cause, we were never too tired or unprepared. When the issue involved the integrity of the colony, when impostors and charlatans tried to impose their will to the detriment of the many, we have fought serenely on the field of battle knowing that we were fighting for the best interests of the independent and honest majority.

    We have gone into the field against the "bosses", political and industrial, to protect the interests of the Italian worker. We have unveiled the shameful corruption existing on the West Side, carried by a clique with utter disregard for law and order. We have not allowed old and tried friendships to deviate us from the path of what we considered our duty, and there is now one of the Italian colony's most corrupt members on trial, criminally accused of having attempted to railroad a poor cripple to jail.

    Although we could go on indefinitely speaking on the merits of this newspaper, the special features, our foreign and up to the minute correspondence, we need only point to our large and growing circulation as our best advertisement. And so we wish you all a Happy New Year.

    Ten Years. (An Editorial). Ten Years! Much is the work we have accomplished, many the victories won, many the defeats experienced. Ten Years! An epoch of change in ideas and ...

    Italian
    II B 2 d 1, II E 1, II E 2, I F 6, I H
  • L'italia -- September 15, 1895
    Italian Socialists

    A new Italian Socialist Club has been organized in this city. The purpose of this club is to teach the Italian workers new ideas on the bettering of working conditions. Lawyer Onofrio Serritella, vice-president of the club, writes that this new club will serve in time to fight for real freedom. Most the Italians in this city are participating. Vincenzo Naselli is the secretary of this new club.

    We wish this new club much success.

    A new Italian Socialist Club has been organized in this city. The purpose of this club is to teach the Italian workers new ideas on the bettering of working conditions. ...

    Italian
    I E, III B 2, II A 1, I H
  • L'italia -- January 06, 1900
    A Benefit Concert

    Tomorrow, at 2 P.M., in the hall at 122 W. Lake Street, Professor Modestino Mastro, Albert and Ettore Gualano will give a benefit-concert to help our poor compatriot, A. Cianci. A conference will also be held on social betterment. The benefit committee consists of V. Di Pirro, S. Falone, F. Berardi, D. De Cristoforo, S. Muffeletto, A. Liberatore, and G. Quartullo.

    With ardour and earnestness, President V. Di Pirro is inviting the colony to attend. Tickets are $.25. We are sure that the colony will not fail to attend in response to this charity-call. I am sure you will all spend a splendid afternoon listening to the fine music.

    Tomorrow, at 2 P.M., in the hall at 122 W. Lake Street, Professor Modestino Mastro, Albert and Ettore Gualano will give a benefit-concert to help our poor compatriot, A. Cianci. ...

    Italian
    II A 3 b, II B 2 g, II D 10, I H
  • La Parola dei Socialisti -- March 20, 1908
    Employment Agencies

    In some stylish restaurant in Chicago, New York, or elsewhere, with large diamonds on his fingers and in his cravat, a self-satisfied Italian may often be seen. He is the same Italian whom you saw a year ago shining shoes for passers-by or washing signs or selling trinkets on crowded street-corners. "Well! Where has"X"made his money? He looked like a beggar a year ago!" "Don't you know? He has sent some thousands of men into the country!" Briefly, "to send men into the country" means in America to make money, -- to make money with little risk and less labor.

    It is an easy business. One opens a small office like a shop in some part of the city frequented by Italians; the windows are trimmed with dignified legends in Italian and English, preferably crowned by flags or coats-of-arms; posters are stuck up requesting 1000 shovelers, 300 carpenters, 200 hod-carriers, etc. Then, at the counter, one awaits the prey at leisure. He has previously corresponded with some company that is building a railroad line, a bridge, a tunnel, or an aqueduct and wants laborers shipped to some distant solitary place, to be supervised by slave-driving bosses, far from the surveillance of the law.

    2

    There is no dearth of victims to exploit. Italians want to work, want to save, want to send money to Italy so that their dear ones may join them in America. The agencies promise steady work in the country, where it costs little to live, and where there is less of opportunity to spend money. Our poor countrymen usually congregate at the agencies in groups of five, six, ten, twenty, or fifty, forming the so-called "ghenga". They feel the need of mutual advice, assistance, and protection. The owner of the agency and his clerk welcome them in the friendliest, most fatherly manner, He makes them believe that he has rejected two or three, hundred Slavs or Greeks in order to reserve the good jobs for Italians. And what fine jobs! Two dollars a day, nine hours of light, easy work, the purest air, distilled water, free board, Italian boss, low cost of living, - an Eldorado! They must decide quickly, for few vacancies are left, and they must be filled by this evening or to-morrow morning.

    The cost will be small, $8 to $12 for the trip plus the customary fee of $5, known as "bossatura". The applicants confer in a corner of the agency. The have been unemployed for so long a time, it seems such an opportunity!

    3

    To raise the money, some suggest selling watches or overcoats or taking a collection. Their spokesman announces to the agent that all are ready to leave. From now on the agent becomes the gang's most humble servant. For their convenience he has the baggage of the newly-enrolled laborers brought to the agency. He explains to them the route of the journey; he buys their railroad tickets, accompanies them personally to the station and to their cars, and sometimes even goes with them or sends some one else, to the location. His earnings have not been meager. A gang of 12 men, who pay as "bossatura" $5 each, yields $60; $2 discount on each railroad ticket makes $24 more; $2 paid for each worker by the hiring company makes another $24; -- a total of $108!

    The "Via Crucis"begins on the location. This is a swamp many miles away from any habitation. The "free" board is prepared and served in a wooden shed or in an old railroad car owned by the boss or by the company. If they want the job, the men must eat and sleep there, paying what is demanded. The meals are prepared of stuff which hogs would scorn to eat. The beds consist of a handful of damp and stinking straw. The "purest air" usually means the deadly miasma of swamp-land, where 4mosquitoes absorb what little blood has been left by the bosses and the employment agents. The "light, easy work" consists of ten or eleven hours of shoveling under a broiling sun or tunneling the bowels of a mountain. The "Italian boss" turns out to be a Turkish, Russian, or Irish slave-driver who does not understand the men and is not understood by them, who begrudges them even the time that it takes to blow a nose, and who easily reaches the point of kicking and sometimes even of shooting.

    After a few days of torture the men begin to consider means of escape, or sometimes they agree upon some form of mutiny. But since the agent has prepaid the transportation charges, and the company must withhold that money from their wages, the men are in debt; they must pay, and therefore they must continue to work, willy-nilly. Besides, all habitations are far away, and the police will always stand by the bosses, without admitting any protest or defense on the part of the men, who run the risk of being jailed if they stop working.

    Here are some real and hypothetical cases. A laborer is hired to leave New York or Chicago for a job location in the North; instead, he is shipped south. Last year eight Italians hired in Chicago, 5ostensibly for a job in the State of Washington, were sent on a sail-boat, under pretext of haste, to fish off the banks of Newfoundland, in polar temperature, with roasted fish as their only food. Exhausted with labor and privations, they were unable for a month and a half to regain their liberty.

    Last summer a gang of twenty-four men was shipped by a well-known New York agency, ostensibly to work on a new railroad project in Texas. The agent who accompanied them set them to work at hoeing on a desolate plain where there were no roads or habitations and disappeared in the following night. Theses unfortunates wandered for weeks and finally, nearly dead of hunger and privations, were transported to New Orleans through the agency of the Italian consul. The railroad project was a false invention of the agent's devised for the sake of his commission and the discount on the railroad fare!

    Four months ago six Italians were shipped to Oregon by a Chicago agency for a job which, according to the contract, should have earned $1.75 for a nine-hour day. Instead, these men received $7 a week for working ten hours a day. After vainly 6protesting they quit the job but were arrested on the charge of threatening violence, and $500 bail was set for each.

    You will always find an employment agent waiting for the arrival of a steamer or a train which carries immigrants. These newcomers are his favorite dish, for they are so naively amenable to deceit and exploitation!

    In some stylish restaurant in Chicago, New York, or elsewhere, with large diamonds on his fingers and in his cravat, a self-satisfied Italian may often be seen. He is the ...

    Italian
    II D 8, I D 2 c, II A 2, III A, III G, III H, I H, I C
  • L'italia -- December 04, 1909
    Fined for Hiring Minors

    Judge Goring fined James Allegretti $25.00 and costs for employing girls under the working age. They worked in the Bowes-Allegretti Candy Co., 46 S. Water St.

    Judge Goring fined James Allegretti $25.00 and costs for employing girls under the working age. They worked in the Bowes-Allegretti Candy Co., 46 S. Water St.

    Italian
    II E 2, I H
  • La Parola dei Socialisti -- October 22, 1910
    Anti-Lynch Meeting

    On October 16 a meeting was held in Bowen Hall, Hull House, to protest against the lynching of the Italians Angelo Albano and Castenzio Ficarotta in Tampa, Florida.

    The executive committee had engaged as speakers Attorney Di Stefano, Professor Leone, Giuseppe Bertelli and Miss Jane Addams.

    Speakers whose opinions differed were purposely selected in order not to impress on the meeting the stamp of any particular party.

    Dr. Albano Zito, a syndicalist, had been invited to speak, but he excused himself on grounds of professional duties.

    Before the program had begunacertain syndicalist declared that in spite of Hell and high water he would be the second speaker. The chairman, Mr. Orrico, rejoined genially and briefly.

    2

    Professor Leone, Attorney Di Stefano, and Mr. Bertelli stigmatized the cowardly lynchings.

    The next speaker should have been Miss Addams, who is very much admired in the Italian colony, but the syndicalist insisted on speaking ahead of Miss Addams, who then decided to withdraw from the meeting.

    The syndicalist said little about the lynchings but much about syndicalism and very much against the Socialist party and unionism.

    In short, he dragged into the meeting the disagreeable feature of partisan animosity, which should have been absolutely avoided.

    Comrade Bertelli retorted by condemning the speaker's talk and behavior, refuting one by one his insults to the Socialist party.

    3

    Perhaps the man's behavior was excusable, for he had arrived in America only a few weeks before and was in no position to pass judgment on his new environment.

    On October 16 a meeting was held in Bowen Hall, Hull House, to protest against the lynching of the Italians Angelo Albano and Castenzio Ficarotta in Tampa, Florida. The executive ...

    Italian
    II E 2, II B 2 g, II D 6, I C, I E, I H, IV
  • La Parola dei Socialisti -- January 18, 1913
    Exclusion of the Illiterates (Editorial)

    The legislative bodies of this country are in the process of completing an action of lese-humanity. It is the duty of those who hold their liberty in high respect to raise their voices in protest before it is too late. The House has passed the Burnett-Dillingham law, which stipulates that an immigrant must be able to read and write in order to be admitted to this country. It now goes to the Senate, after which it needs only the President's signature. The agitation promoted by the foreign element as well as by the more enlightened American groups promises to develop to a point which may deter this nation from besmirching itself with ineradicable shame. One can understand the desire to exclude persons with criminal records or incurable diseases, but to bar immigrants because of illiteracy for which they are not to blame, while they may possess all the other qualities required to make good citizens, is unpardonable.

    It is evident, that the aim is to exclude quantity rather than quality. This country has room for a billion people, and if to-day there is an excess 2of labor, it is not the fault of labor, but of the baroque system of capitalism, which every so often slows up production because of a slow market, despite the fact that the majority of the people have nothing but the barest necessities.

    And what is the Italian Government doing about it thru its representatives in this country? If the American Government were to forbid the importation of macaroni and wine, perhaps they would be moved to protest or to set up tariff walls on American products. But it affects only the workers, whose flight from Italy and low wages to countries where the wage-standards are much higher is looked upon with disfavor by the Italian Government and the ruling classes, who see in this exodus the reason for the growing independence of the workers who remain behind.

    That is the reason why the Italian Government is not concerning itself with the Burnett-Dillingham bill and is not interested in defeating it.

    America needs all classes of immigration; it needs literates and illiterates, the strong-minded and the strong-armed. The greatness of this nation is due 3to the unrestricted influx of immigration. The harm done by the illiterate immigrant is more than compensated for by his children, who grow up not only literate, but with the perfect American attitude.

    The American people will not be the first to experience the harm done by such foolish laws. Australia has had a similar law for several years and at the present time is preoccupied with the problem of increasing its population, following the example of France and trying to effect an increase in the birthrate.

    We cherish the hope that the Senate and the President will defeat this unjust law and thus allow anybody, even though illiterate, to be admitted to this country.

    Meanwhile we invite our readers to participate in the movement of protest which has already been initiated by filling in the following petition with name and address and sending it to the President of this Republic:

    4

    To the President of the United States, the Honorable William Howard Taft, Washington, D. C.:

    The undersigned respectfully voices his protest against the so-called Burnett-Dillingham bill, establishing a literary test for the immigrant to this country, since it is not the true test of qualification for the admission of the desirable immigrant.

    Name ....

    Address .....

    State ....

    The legislative bodies of this country are in the process of completing an action of lese-humanity. It is the duty of those who hold their liberty in high respect to ...

    Italian
    III G, I H, I E