Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Italians of Nebraska and Iowa

That's right!  There are people with Italian heritage in Nebraska and Iowa.  In the 1930s during the Great Depression, the Federal Writers' Program sponsored a book called the The Italians of Omaha.  Omaha has preserved its Italian neighborhood or "Little Italy" and it has its own Facebook page.   My great grandfather immigrated from Carlentini, Sicily to Omaha in 1906.  His wife and three children including my grandfather immigrated in 1911.  Here is what the book Italians of Omaha had to say about Omaha's Little Italy as it existed in the 1930s:
"The most distinct Italian colony, from an ethnic standpoint, and in which segregation is most intense with the highest ratio of foreign-born, is Omaha's Little Italy.  It lies in the eastern part of the city, south of the downtown business and industrial section.  It is here that the Sicilians are in the majority with an astoundingly heavy representation from the towns of Lentini and Carlentini...if one were to stand on the corner of Sixth and Pierce Streets and question the Italians who passed, the tabulation would show Lentini and Carlentini in the Province of Syracuse as the place of origin of seven out of ten persons."
If you would like to take a virtual tour of Lentini and Carlentini, go to Google maps and search the town names, then look at the street view.  I have spent many hours wandering the streets and looking up addresses from the Italian vital records for my family in this way.

I would like to organize a delegation of Americans with ancestry connected to Omaha, Lentini and Carlentini to visit Sicily in the near future.  We can travel to the island of our ancestors and connect with our heritage together.